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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 01:54 PM
Original message
Since I was a child no subject has interested me as much as Hitler and the Nazi Holocaust, on which Ive read dozens of books perhaps hundreds if I count related subjects. Im sure that discussions with my parents, their personal experiences with anti-Semitism, and the fact that some of my distant relatives were Holocaust victims had something to do with my long intense interest in the subject. But beyond that, I have always felt that this is a subject that has crucially important implications for the future of humanity. Never having personally experienced such mind boggling evil, my awareness that it was so widespread in Germany during the 1930s and early 40s and that it engulfed the whole world in catastrophe, killing tens of millions of people, has always struck me as something that demanded explanation.

If I could summarize what Ive learned from all my reading on this subject, it would be two highly related things: The first is that, contrary to what some have claimed, the Nazi Holocaust was not unique. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, numerous genocidal episodes have involved the brutal murders of tens of millions of people, including the Armenian genocide and the genocides in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Mass murders in the USSR under Stalin and Cambodia under Pol Pot were similarly devastating, evil and brutal, though they may have met the definition of genocide. Prior to the 20th Century the near total European colonization of Africa and America resulted in a long drawn out genocide against the native peoples of those continents. And undoubtedly these kinds of things have been going on throughout history, though they are not as well documented as those that occurred in the 20th Century. It has become my firm belief that while these episodes differ in scale from each other and from the Nazi Holocaust, they dont differ substantially in kind.

The second thing I learned is highly related to the first: Since genocide and similar mass murder episodes have not been rare in the past, they will only be rare in the future if the human race develops the means and the will to prevent them from occurring. In that sense, genocide prevention is a lot like what our Founding Fathers said about democracy: It should never be taken for granted, and it can be maintained only with eternal vigilance.


Parallels to present day United States

Despite the above, until recently I never thought consciously that anything remotely similar would happen in my country during my lifetime. But my opinions on that have changed dramatically in the past few years. And consistent with my life-long interest in the subject, Ive written extensively on DU about what I see as historical parallels between Nazi Germany and present day United States:

How Hitlers war on terrorism served as a basis for his rise to power and subsequent genocidal actions; the role of racism in the American peoples passive acquiescence to the atrocities against Muslims perpetrated by our government; why I think its important to recognize the similarities between our current day country and past tyrannical regimes; the operation of brutal prisons and concentration camps by our government (in response to someone who objected to my Nazi comparisons by saying that we dont have concentration camps in our country); that yes it CAN happen here; and much more.

In a similar vein, Naomi Wolf has recently discussed, in The End of America, the ten steps that generally accompany the transition from democracy to tyranny, and the fact that all ten steps have already been taken in our country:

 Invoking of an external threat
 Development of a paramilitary force
 Creation of a secret prison system
 Surveillance of ordinary citizens
 Arbitrary arrest and detention
 Harassing of citizens groups
 Targeting of dissenting individuals
 Intimidation of the press
 Equating dissent as treason
 Subversion of the rule of law


Relevance to present day United States the role of the American people

Im not going to talk any more in this post about George Bush or Dick Cheney. I have previously said that theyre evil, theyre cowards, and theyre tyrants. But thats not my primary emphasis in this post.

The background for the core tragedy of our current situation was concisely and poignantly summarized by Naomi Wolf when she said this:

Our Founders set out to prove that ordinary people could be entrusted with governing themselves in a state where no one could arbitrarily arrest them, lock them up, or torture them.

Well, it was a very noble sentiment, and it worked fairly well for most of the two and a quarter centuries of our nations history. But quite clearly, if thats what our Founders set out to prove, they are now in the process of being proven wrong. For the fact of the matter is that our current government IS arbitrarily arresting, locking up and torturing thousands of people. The fact that the good majority of them are not American citizens (yet) is not very relevant in my opinion.

Naomi Wolf also succinctly summarized the central moral lesson of Nazi Germany and todays United States:

When citizens turn a blind eye to state-sanctioned atrocities committed against others, so long as they believe themselves to be safe, a fascist reality has fertile ground in which to take root.


A brief simplified history of how we got here

Books can be written and they have been on how our country got to the brink of fascist tyranny. Chalmers Johnsons Nemesis The Last Days of the American Republic is an excellent book on this subject. In this post however, I will merely summarize a couple of key events:

The abuses and torture of our prisoners have been frequent and abundantly documented. Regarding those abuses, the U.S. Supreme Court so much as branded George W. Bush a war criminal for violating the Geneva Convention, in their Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, as explained by Vyan. In that decision Justice Stevens, speaking for the majority, explained that the petitioner Hamdan was entitled to the full protection of the Geneva Convention, and that the military commission convened to try him was established in violation of both the UCMJ and Common Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention. Justice Kennedy further elaborated on the Geneva Convention that the USSC determined the Bush administration to have violated:

The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered war crimes, punishable as federal offenses

This was a truly remarkable statement and it is equally remarkable that it received so little commentary by our national news media. Here we have the Supreme Court of the United States branding our president a war criminal as defined by international law. That opinion was not written by a liberal. It was in fact written by one of the five Supreme Court Justices who handed George W. Bush the presidency in 2000 by putting a halt to the counting of votes in Florida.

And what was the response of our Republican Congress to that? Was there any consideration of impeaching the war criminal? Not at all! Instead, Congress went right ahead and passed the Military Commissions Act, which essentially legalizes (as explained in detail in this post by Eliot C. Cohen) many of the war crimes that Bush and Cheney have committed. It gives George Bush the right to arbitrarily arrest and lock up (as Naomi Wolf put it) anyone whom he deems to be an unlawful enemy combatant, and it essentially makes the Geneva Conventions inapplicable to U.S. law, even though we remain a signatory to them. With respect to torture no problem, George Bush issued a signing statement when he signed the law, which essentially says that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security.

So there you go. Congress legalizes acts committed by the president which are deemed war crimes by international law, and there is little outrage from our corporate news media or from the American people. What ever happened to Never Again!?


A little silver lining

This is just an aside, but I must mention it because I consider it very important. Though Congress voted for the Military Commissions Act, all five currently declared Democratic candidates who were in Congress at the time voted against it. And the other three Democratic candidates who were not Congresspersons at the time (Edwards, Gravel, and Richardson) undoubtedly also would have voted against it had they been members of Congress at the time. In stark contrast, all current Republican candidates for president, with the exception of Ron Paul who voted against it, undoubtedly would have voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act, as did the great majority of Republicans in Congress. This represents a huge difference between the two groups of candidates a difference which may very well determine whether or not we recover our democracy after 2008. Like many other DUers, I too have grave concerns about a couple of our current Democratic candidates. But for anyone thinking about not voting for president in 2008, please give a lot of thought to the alternative.


Concluding remarks

There is no question that George Bush and Dick Cheney have repeatedly violated domestic and international law and the U.S. Constitution, and that in so doing they have taken our country a long way down the road to tyranny. Nor is there any question that all of the ten steps to tyranny discussed by Naomi Wolf in The End of America have been largely fulfilled already in our country.

But as I said, I dont wish to emphasize the Bush administration in this post. George Bush and Dick Cheney cant make our country into a brutal dictatorship by acting alone, without some help at least in the form of passive acceptance from the American people. So the more important issue is why there hasnt been more outrage over all this. Is it true that so many millions of Americans have accepted the arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and torture by our government of so many thousands of men simply because they believe themselves to be safe? Have so many millions of Americans bought George Bushs ridiculous line that Were fighting them over there so that we dont have to fight them over here?

It appears that the comparison of George Bush with Adolph Hitler is not the only relevant comparison here. It also appears that too many of the American people have a similar attitude to the Germans of the 1930s.

And why not? Do we really believe that Americans are inherently superior to Germans? I doubt it. Rather, I used to think that it couldnt happen here because of our own history and relevant world history that we had to draw from. We have available to serve as a guide for us the principles for which we fought the American Revolution, which were enshrined in our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. And we have the examples of tyranny and genocide which should serve as a warning for us.

The question now is, have we learned enough from history to avoid world-wide catastrophes such as the Nazi Holocaust and World War II? Or, do too many Americans, like George W. Bush, consider our Constitution to be just a damned scrap of paper, which we can feel free to dispose of in times of fear. Martin Niemoller said something many years ago that was very similar to Naomi Wolfs statement, but in different words:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me -
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

Americans need to understand that statement and internalize it before its too late.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. hitler was retail, stalin wholesale, Mao, wallmart-sized.
Pol Pot falls in there someplace, too. Great article, hot topic, and unfortunately, we are guilty of the destruction of Iraq. millions of refugees, how many dead? When we ask "who knows?" Bush responds, "who cares!" because they are not real people to him. Bubble recently said he had never been to Iraq. How quickly one forgets a turkey, especially a plastic one.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 08:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. I think that the best evidence is that over a million Iraqis have been killed in the war
http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=7...

So, we have over a million dead, and 4.5 million refugees. That's about one fifth of their total population. But at least the ones that remain have the "freedom" to do what George Bush's minions tell them they can do.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Was it Stalin, one death is a tragedy, a million a statistic?
IRaq is a hell of an american statistic. Or as dear leader says, stastistics.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:39 AM
Response to Reply #12
16. Apparently you're right about that
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/josephstal13...

I honestly don't believe that George Bush or Dick Cheney have a shred of morality or human empathy. There is no amount of deaths that would be too much for them to pay (other peoples' deaths, that is) in order that they get their way. I think that they are both very much like Hitler in that regard.
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The Wizard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:02 AM
Response to Reply #16
21. Hitler didn't have
new Q lar weapons. Hitler was elected. Hitler served in combat.
He was better looking, told funnier jokes, was a better dresser, had more hair, and he could dance the pants off-------And he could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon, two coats........Never mind.
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indepat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:36 AM
Response to Reply #11
20. Just wondering what the apparent lack of a collective Amurikan conscience about these million dead
and 4.5 million refuges say about us as a people, at least in the eyes of others?
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. That we are the New Kinder and Gentler Nazis, which we are.
And maybe, in the end, not that much kinder and gentler.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #20
28. I've thought a lot about that
In defense of the American people, I have to say that I believe that only a small fraction are even aware of it -- or even have the slightest idea of what's going on over there.

I'm not saying that that excuses them, but it does put them in a better light than if they knew and just didn't give a damn. On the other hand, there are those that DO have a pretty good idea and just don't care. And then there are those who just don't WANT to know.

But the people in other nations have a much better understanding of what's happening than most Americans do. I talked with an immigrant from Cameroon recently, who says that until Bush came along Cameroonians had a very good opinion of our country. Now it's hit rock bottom.
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indepat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. My concern is that there are far too many Amurikans who do have a pretty good idea
and just don't care. There seems to be countless millions of Amurikans with the view that a 'puke president should be able to do absolutely any and every thing he wants to with every 'puke Congressperson supporting in lock-step and far too many dems enabling. We should all now be able to see the disastrous results this folly has had on the Federal government's fiscal integrity, the value of the dollar, the economy, the jobs' market, the environment, the rule of law, and respect for international law, international treaties, and our own laws and Constitution.

As an aside, may I commend you for your essays which are always of great topical importance, extremely well-written and supported, and right on target?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. I was going to say that I agreed with everything you said here.
But then after reading your second paragraph it would sound self-serving to say that.

Anyhow, I appreciate the compliment, thank you.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
2. The steps are predictive and I fear we have little time
to fight

Soon we will have to decide

Do I want to face torture

Do I self censor and hope to live and witness

Do I leave the country?
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superkia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. I am afraid most will just choose your second choice.
If that turns out to be the case, I am leaving the country if we are allowed at that point. Now if there is a team in it to win it, I am sticking it to the machine.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. I think that is why I've been so taken with Dodd
I haven't read more than an excerpt of his book on his father's role in the Nuremberg prosecutions, but I've heard him talk. Clearly, Dodd takes these lessons to his core. I only pray whoever gets the nomination does as well.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. Yes, I agree, Dodd would make a mighty fine president
I talk some about his book in this post:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 02:24 PM
Response to Original message
4. It was scary to watch a video of one of our service people in Iraq
Edited on Fri Nov-16-07 02:25 PM by truedelphi
Smiling and gently playing with an Iraqi youngster, and then still very playfully, he picks up the boy and tosses him off the bridge. Only at the last moment do you see the sadism in the young service man's expression.

The kid landed fifteen feet below, half in and half out of some water. He seemed stunned, and like something wasn't right with one of his legs.and his friend was screaming "You hut him!"

Perhaps even more sickening were the comments posted "That is one way to clean up Iraq!"
and other such cheers.

I'm not so sure I want these people back here in the States.

I think the damage is irrepairable and it is only going to get worse.

Nadin's comment about leaving the country spells out one personal solution.
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bdamomma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. plus lowering the standards of those who are joining up does not
help either. Plus it is those acts of needless/heinous acts of death that are being imposed on the Iraqi people and a prerequisite of those soldiers coming home with horrendous mental health issues, they are deemed to be totally mentally disabled.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:26 AM
Response to Reply #5
19. And when they are mentally disabled, our government under Bush and Cheney will rarely cover them
They claim that the soldiers had a pre-existing "personality disorder":

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Link to the video, please? Thanks. (n/t)
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. It's one of the respondent's links at this discussion
Edited on Fri Nov-16-07 03:30 PM by truedelphi
http://tinyurl.com/2k95mv

Short discussion that time, so scroll down to those who responded and read responses, should only take seconds. Don't read the comments after the video unless you want to feel ill and very bummed out.

In all fairness to the service person doing this - it could be you or me or Ghandi, if we'd been the ones forced to re-up and re-ep and re-up in that hell hole.

I mean, I'd like to think I'm better than that, but war is about de-humanizing those who are involved. It is an obscenity and there should never be wars.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Thanks - just watched it. I agree 100%. Hope we can prove someday that every American isn't a bully.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
10. This is the kind of stuff that should be shown repeatedly on the news
For those that think it's so great that we're fighting this war, they should konw what it's really like.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #10
27. It should, but I am not holding my breath. n/t
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #4
23. Probably one reason U.S. keeps death penalty
"I'm not so sure I want these people back here in the States."
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Trillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 10:12 PM
Response to Original message
14. No
Keep in mind this is a quick thought, not worked over as well as it could be.

"Is it true that so many millions of Americans have accepted the arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and torture by our government of so many thousands of men simply because they believe themselves to be safe?"


I think that most Americans were beaten down when they were kids by the schools, and have the generalized attitude that they can't do much about what the government does. Most of their time is spent ass kissing one or several employers, who don't pay them enough for them to pay their bills, and if by chance they are lucky and get promotions and raises, they escape to an activity (like real sports, or watching sports) because they either hate their lives of ass kissing, or are in denial about their ass kissing.

There are a few Americans who have risen above this, they were "groomed" in schools where they were tracked and examined and cataloged and indexed, and for them their adult lives seem okay, they have a little disposable income, but they otherwise live in the denial of the corporate world with money representing "energy," and the more energy they can get for themselves, the better. This smaller percentage of people may very well be in denial and falsely believe that they are safe (relatively speaking).

Most Americans don't believe they're safe. That's why FEAR based propaganda on the airwaves works so well. Most of them were raised in an old testament way of fire and brimstone (metaphor for authoritarian domination), even by secular public schools, and as adults they tend to resonate to fear and authority, while being somewhat in denial about that resonance.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-16-07 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I think there's a lot of truth in what you say
I think it's very much the same principle that operated in Germany under Hitler -- though possibly on a lesser scale, I don't know. But there is also still a lot of controversy about what principles operated in Nazi Germany that allowed the Holocaust to take place.

I think it's a combination of:

-- fear of an external threat (in our case Muslims/"Islamofascism"/terrorist), exacerbated by racism
-- fear of our government (I include myself in that category)
-- denial of what's happening
-- ignorance (exacerbated, of course, by our corporate news media keeping us in the dark)
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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:51 AM
Response to Original message
17. K&R Well and truly said, as always, TforC!
I'm afraid that the cure for our denial will be actions that shut down any possibility of resisting -- too late!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:12 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Thank you puebloknot
Yes, I'm afraid it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.
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bagrman Donating Member (889 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
22. The US genecide in Iraq will go on for centurys, Our Nucular war there has guaranteed it.
The DU munitions used there will go on destroying peoples lives for ever.

http://rense.com/Datapages/dudata.htm


Latr
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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
25. K&R. Thank you. I grew up hearing about hiding Jews and living on sugar beets.
The occupied lands suffer the most. Iraq is the new Poland, the new Holland.....
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. It most certainly is -- And it's about time that our national news media starting talking about
this stuff.
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
26. i love this post!
so well done.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. Thank you.
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PufPuf23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:42 PM
Response to Original message
31. Thank you for the work put into this OP
Humbling how our nation has fallen. Sad.
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