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How to Take Our Country Back from the Money Men Who Fund the Tea Party

If there is a silver lining to the debt limit crisis — and it’s a big if — it would be that the extremism of Republican agenda has finely become visible to a larger number of Americans. It is time to recognize what it means to face a determined ideological bloc. And what it means to fight back.

While New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently described the Tea Party as an American Hezbollah, Islamic terrorists would not have much clout without their funders in Saudi Arabia and Iran. So, too, the Republican right would be impotent without its behind-the-scenes creators. A small number of incredibly wealthy businessmen — the principle beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts — have created an ideological machine determined to destroy government. Taking our country back, restoring pragmatism over ideology, and making government function requires making the deep pocket money men (and they are mostly men) visible and identifying their cause with the looting of the country.

The debt limit gridlock is simply the latest episode in a war on government that has been thirty years in the making. Many of us dismissed the genial, misguided Ronald Reagan as an aberration. We saw the Gingrich revolution as self-destructive and easily contained. We cheered in 2006 and 2008 as we reached that the conclusion that Bush, with his unnecessary wars and the financial crisis that was the predictable consequence of mindless deregulation, had discredited the Republican brand. Some of us voted for Obama over Hillary because we thought that with Bush and political maestro Karl Rove out of the way, Obama could transcend the partisanship of the Clinton years.

We were wrong. What we failed to recognize is the engine of Republican extremism is not Reagan or the second Bush or Gingrich. Nor is it some authentic voice of the Christian right or the disillusioned working class on the American “street.” The engine of conservative ascendance is the ideologically driven money men who have built a single-minded political machine in the United States. In Winner Take All Politics, political scientists Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker date the conservative rise to 1978, two years before Reagan. They identify conservative success with the ascendance of the Chamber of Commerce, which became a vehicle for right-wing business interests. They report that since the consolidation and channeling of conservative funding, Republicans have won an astounding 85% of closely fought contests.

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and New Deal 2.0 pundit Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist at U Mass, Boston, documents the effective sale of Congress to special interests. The Congressmen who raked consumer advocate and should-be populist hero Elizabeth Warren over the coals were the paid shills of the big banks she was willing to confront. Membership on financial services committees is now the product of the right campaign contributions. While public outrage may have led to the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, it did nothing to contain the alliance of lobbyists and business friendly Republicans (along with more than a few Democrats) working overtime to water it down and block its implementation.

In the meantime, the Republicans have launched a campaign to rig the political system. Their campaign against unions is a campaign against the last remaining source of institutional support for Democrats. At the same time, they are engaged in a wholesale initiative to make it harder to vote. Who is most likely to be affected by these measures? The answer is clear: the poor, the young, the less educated, recent immigrants, in short, those mostly likely to be Democrats and most likely to be the victims of tea party budget cuts.

The Supreme Court is no different. The rule of law is all but dead in America. The same group that funded the Tea Party and the congressional financial services committees has stacked the Court and blocked Obama appointments everywhere else. While commentators focus on issues such as abortion or campaign finance, the Supreme Court reaches its ideological height in its consistently pro-business decisions. Three of the Justices (Scalia, Thomas and Alito) are the most extreme justices since the twenties. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are only slightly behind. Together, the five have produced a series of nakedly partisan 5-4 votes.

So how are we (everyone to the left of Paul Ryan) to respond? In the New York Times this weekend, pollster Stanley Greenberg depressingly observed that the public gets it — and the public response has been neutralized by the right wing ideological campaign. The public gets that Wall Street runs the country. The public gets that no one represents their interests. The public gets that both Bush and Obama serve corporate interests first. And the public responds — incredibly to some of us — by believing that government is the problem. As Tom Frank explained in ‘The Wrecking Crew’, the point of this ideological campaign is to prove to the public that government can’t work and there is no better way than to make sure it doesn’t. So how to respond?

Greenberg argued that Democrats should adopt sensible policies to limit campaign contributions, tax lobbyist expenses, simplify the tax code, add fees to financial transactions and limit CEO compensation and executive bonuses. I wish! To accomplish these objectives, Greenberg needs a party that is not beholden to the same interests. To get there requires taking a few pages from the Republican playbook. Republican success has come from playing on the fears of the American public, making “liberal” a naughty word, and discrediting government especially when it works. According to independent observers, Obama’s stimulus package saved jobs and probably prevented a worldwide depression; yet, most Americans think it was a failure. How do we combat propaganda? The answer requires seeing what we are up against and responding in turn.

First, we need to put a face on the enemies of the Republic. The true powers behind the throne are the money men. The Koch Brothers, leading right wing funders, are finally becoming visible. They own the largest privately held energy company in the country, with over $100 billion in revenues. It is one the country’sten top contributors to air pollution and a “kingpin of climate science denial.“ The Koch Brothers fund a largely invisible network of think tanks, political front groups and advocacy organizations that have opposed Obama Administration initiatives from health care to the stimulus package. Charles Lewis, of the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, reported that the “sheer dimension” of what the Koch Brothers spend sets them apart. “They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. . . .They are the Standard Oil of our times.” Where do all those tax cuts go? We should emphasize just how much the tax cuts increase the Koch Brothers’ ability to game the political system to insure their unaccountability.

Right up there with the Koch Brothers is Rupert Murdoch. He has finally registered in public consciousness as a result of the scandals in Britain. His minions illegally tapped the phones of the royal family, the opposition Labor Party, missing children and 9/11 victims, all while he supped with the Conservative Prime Minister. What he has done in the U.S. is comparable. He single-handedly funded the creation of Fox News, the primary source of information for 64% of the tea party and the single entity outside of the Bush Administration itself most responsible for the war in Iraq. He subverted the Wall Street Journal from a reputable, conservative, financial publication to an ideological force. Murdoch undermines reputable journalism everywhere he goes and insulates his media empire from effective oversight (or enforcement of the criminal law). His creations are much more effective than Pravda (the Soviet newspaper and propaganda arm) ever was. We must start by making these men and similar funders the face of conservative extremists. Conservative Republican and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Romer is running for the Republican Presidential nomination by disavowing large contributions. He is close to invisible in the polls. We should make visible the obvious — every other Republican candidate is a stalking horse for the financial sector.

Second, we need to discredit the extremists as extremists. The Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch society are appropriately viewed as wingnuts. The Tea Party should be seen in the same league. Imagine if Democrats threatened the country’s credit rating to pursue an unachievable ideological agenda. They would be called traitors; Vice President Joe Biden finally called them “terrorists” but only behind closed doors. The Tea Party has held the country hostage to a manufactured crisis designed to prove their ideological purity. At best, they are partisans who put their ideological commitments ahead of the country’s. More systematically, they serve the interests of those who would destroy government effectiveness. John McCain, now that he has been safely reelected for what is likely to be his last term, has been one of the more effective voices against them. They deserve to be discredited permanently.

Third, the only way to discredit them is to link the money men to the extremist policies. Progressives are proud of their video showing the Republican attack on Medicare as the equivalent of pushing Grandma off the cliff. Their far more effective refrain is the one that links sacrificing Grandma to tax cuts for the wealthy. The refrain could be done through fill in the blanks. The Republicans want to sacrifice Medicare to protect tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republicans want to fire teachers to promote tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republicans want to slash Social Security to promote tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republican held the debt limit increase hostage to their efforts to protect tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republicans, whatever they do, are beholden to the money men the country should love to hate.

Fourth, the Democrats need to claim credit for government’s genuine accomplishments. The public believes that Social Security and Medicare are successes. Somehow, it thinks that the extension of Medicare to more people is socialism. Obama failed to put an effective government (and Democratic) label on the programs that in fact produced the most results — the jobs created by the stimulus for government infrastructure, the federal funds that staved off the need for state layoffs, etc. In Kansas, Republican Governor Brownback and Republican Senator Pat Roberts are claiming credit for a new federally funded Bio-Defense Facility even as they bash federal spending. Either the federal government should be getting credit for the facility or it should be on the chopping block.

Fifth, the Democrats need an overriding agenda. An easy one is the need to rebuild community and equality. Impressive empirical studies suggest that inequality necessarily undermines community health. It results in writing off large numbers as chronically unemployed, mentally ill, likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and effectively unmarriageable. It also makes it easy for those with six figure bonuses to escape accountability. The right wing extremism machine is possible only because the Koch Brothers can amass fortunes worth over $35 billion between them.

I am not optimistic. Naomi Cahn and I wrote a book on the family called ‘Red Families v. Blue Families’. We expected it to appeal to family law scholars and women’s groups. Instead, we received immediate attention from conservative family institutes. We were eventually invited to speak by same-sex marriage advocacy organizations. We never heard much from the feminist left. At first we were mystified. Then we realized that while there is a well funded network of right wing think tanks, the organized left — and much of the center — has starved on the vine for lack of funds. Same-sex marriage passed in New York State because Republican funders, who identify with their gay sons and lesbian daughters, supported the cause. Efforts that require limiting the influence of the billionaires we have empowered and insulated from accountability face an uphill struggle.
URL: http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/08/02/how-to-take-our-country-back-from-the-money-men-who-fund-the-tea-party-53523/


Added: Aug-4-2011 Occurred On: Aug-2-2011
By: ConservoWatch
In:
Politics
Tags: tea party, right-wing, conservatives
Location: United States (load item map)
Views: 10415 | Comments: 111 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • I just love how members of the house, who are standing on principles (for which they were elected), are labeled as "extremists". What should they have done, voted for more spending increases till we run out of money altogether. It's the liberals who need to be "watched".

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • There are no big money men that fund the tea party....Who is writing your check, Mr. Conservowatch ?

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • In other words.... we liberals have no plan for fixing the economy. Hell, we don't even have the slightest idea how the world works-- but it doesn't matter because we can always resort to name calling.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Read the constitution. That is our founding document. It calls for limited government and preserves God given individual liberty. It defines who Americans are.
    If you are going to run around spouting vile anti-American gibberish and advocate for statist policies, then do that. However, don't malign the integrity of American patriots with your hateful screeds.
    And get a clue. The KKK was created as the terrorist wing of the democrat party. Designed to kill republicans and blacks. Geez.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @trialdog I suggest YOU read it. The constitution says nothing about individual liberties being given by God. In fact, the constitution never once mentions the invisible man.

      As for the rest of your rant, some basic reading comprehension and critical independent thinking might open your eyes to the power behind your heroes......wealthy special interests who do not give a shit about you. Where is your anti-American claims when it comes to them?

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @trialdog So what part of the Conservative Social Agenda (which has infected the tea party) falls in line the Individual Liberty as defined in the Constitution? The Tea Party is nothing more than the Libertarian philosophy combined with the Republican Social Agenda that the Libertarians have rejected.

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    • @gregsto

      God, how the left loves conspiracies.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @trialdog
      'God given individual liberty'?

      About that god-thingy, are you serious?

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @gregsto "The constitution says nothing about individual liberties being given by God."

      Well, I guess you are technically right, the Constitution says, inalienable. I would suggest the gist of the statement, implies a higher power. Which makes sence, most of the Founders were deist.

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  • Tea Party isn't a "party" but a movement that has no clear permanent structure or leadership aside from local chapters. Saying that I always find it funny how the liberals and democrats treat and report the "Tea Party" as a giant evil organization receiving funding and direction by rich, powerful people because that very structure is the only one they know and therefor the only kind of information they can BS about the "Tea Party".

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • All this tax the rich is getting old. Tax them too much and they just leave the country. Everyone should pay some tax on earned income, even the 50% who don't pay any tax. Government spending is out of control and the debt is now 100% of GDP. The Fed just keeps on printing more and more money out of thin air and the dollar just keeps getting weaker and weaker. Buy Gold to protect yourself from this insanity.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @Nagold

      You're comments are a prime example of the tea party mindset. It's about defending the ability of the wealthy to stay wealthy at the expense of their own well-being.

      Where are the rich going to go? They enjoy the lowest tax rate in the civilized world. Their income keeps going up and up and they have bozos lamenting their sad plight of taxation.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @PH-DEE you make yourself out to be an idiot of epic proportions, you don't have a single clue who you are calling out or offending.

      I have family in the military, I own a business I built myself, my father built his own business, my mother adopted children and you want to call them out for being something other then respect, responsible decent citizens of America...?

      Your about to get you pathetic ass handed to you, you have no idea who you are throwing under the bus out of pure ignorance.

      W More..

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @PH-DEE People talk with their feet. Millions have left NY and CA in the last 10 years due to high taxes to points like Texas and Nevada. And, the USA isn't the only game in town. The USA corp tax rate is among the highest.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @singlelife You can't argue with someone who uses nothing but talking points. Take ALL the money the "wealthy" have and it still would not solve the problems. Class warfare is something the libs and media dreamed up to score votes. Nothing more.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @PH-DEE No, no, no...we half to keep the rich as rich as possible because then they will give us all jobs, redistributing their wealth..wait a minute...that is LIBERAL (so called socialist) AND TEA PARTY (fucking stupid).

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  • did not read it. but why don't you libs keep doing what youve been doing. calling these harmless people racists and extremists. seems to really be working LOL

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @myCondolences I stopped reading after your first sentence, but I will assume it didnt have a lot of thought behind it. See how stupid you sound for coming on just to troll?

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    • @stevecore i'm assuming the article blasts the tea party and discusses ways to dismantle it. the tea party is a group of americans who share a few common beliefs, but for some reason 'they need to be destroyed'. therefore, should all political groups be removed or just the ones that you disagree with?

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  • funded by the rich? I'm not seeing any money from it..and neither is anyone else. seems you are going out on a limb, just hope it breaks with you on the smallest end! by the way...how's that coffee party working out for ya??

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • What you saw is just the beginning. You can NEVER stop the tea party,because it is a grass roots org.,not funded or started by anybody,so nobody can stop it.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @555chevy Nobody wants to stop it, we just want to ignore you and your craziness. We get it, you like to act angry at everything. Saw a little child throwing a fit for not getting an ice cream the other day too. You cant have everything.

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    • @555chevy

      Exactly. It's regular people who are fed up with a government run amok. It took a lot to shake people out of their ball games and TV shows, but now that they're roused, they mean business.

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    • @stevecore The little child in the room is obama and the dumb-o-crats. The tea party people must REALLY be getting to those idiots if they have to spend so much time attacking them.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Uh huh and what about SOROS?

    You proggie trolls define HYPOCRITE

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • The worst capitalist can still be a good capitalist.
    But even the greatest socialist can never be a good socialist.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • The looney liberals will never again have as much power as they did 2008-2010. It's going to be awfully hard to hide their agenda again. The white guilt and empty rhetoric isn't holding water anymore. It's time to find a new scam liberals.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Interesting how liberals call Tea Party people, those who want to follow the US Constitution, terrorists, but won't call Islamists trying to kill anybody that won't follow Sharia law the same.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @cat-scratch-fever I have yet to hear a single Tea Party member speak coherently and with understanding regarding the constitution.

      Your Islamic reference, while I am sure it makes for a popular accusation amongst the ladies at the church social, is bullshit, as you well know.

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    • @cat-scratch-fever I consider myself a liberal and have no problem calling Islamic shitheads totalitarian terrorists, just Iike I call ultra conservative christians totalitarian terrorists. The problem is Conservatives want to have it both ways-- label anyone they want a terrorist, but act offended when their totalitarian dogma and tactics is characterized the same way. It's hypocrisy.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @picklethepug You show your extreme ignorance to compare the two.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @cat-scratch-fever and you show extreme ignorance in your religious superiority complex. You and the Taliban really do have a lot more in common than you think.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @picklethepug You are the one that brought the religious argument into it. You know nothing about me and continue to show your ignorance by comparing me to the Taliban. No matter how you spin it, Islamists kill those who don't believe as they do. Nobody else does that.

      Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • So first the Tea Party was "Astroturf" and of no consequence.

    Then they were "racist homophobe evangelicals".

    Now they are funded by shadowy money men bent on yada, yada, yada...

    All I can say is that if they weren't effectively challenging the welfare state and posing a serious threat to its survival, not a word would be mentioned about them.

    Go figure.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @magna750
      if they were challenging the stronghold big business has on the government and collecting its share of welfare while making record profits or the federal reserve printing worthless money there would be no mention of the tea party and the money, coordination, press time and logistics provided would disappear….

      Posted Jul-26-2013 By 

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  • lieberal regressives want to "take the country back" (presumably to the 1930s) at the expense of those in the TEA Party who want to stop the hemorrhaging so our economy can move forward.

    What a disgrace.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • A slow coup d'etat, going on for years without 'The People' noticing it.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Keep dreamin'.......

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Arguing about the differences between republicans and democrats is like arguing about the differences between nazi's and communists. Both are nearly identical, yet are at each others throats for ownership of everyone else. At least the article was somewhat honest when describing democrats as uneducated, poor, imigrants, and/or the very young. In other words no one you want an opinion from let alone ideas on where to go. There must be a third party. A party for educated, non-religous, true red-bl More..

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • round up all democrats and put them into forced labor camps until they repay the child kings debt.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • The insanity continues. The Tea Party is the only relevant political movement now in the US, the only hope for saving the country.

    How long do you lefty imbeciles need to see unemployment over 9% to get that? How much debt is it going to take for you people to pull your heads out of your collectivist asses and understand that we've been living way beyond our means for decades now?

    How many recessions and stock market crashes will it take for you ideologues to realize that we were right to day More..

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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    • @vicsemprini
      "The Tea Party is the only relevant political movement now"

      Do you seriously believe that?…..the tea party was paid for by banking and insurance industries just as all the others. the tea party is the best thing to happen for fascism….

      Posted Jul-26-2013 By 

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  • Wow....do you plagiarize all the time? Can't you convey your own ideas in your own words?

    Hey folks.....google some of the key sentences this post has. Conservowatch likes to cut and paste.

    I started with the sentence, "What we failed to recognize is the engine of Republican extremism is not Reagan or the second Bush or Gingrich."

    oh and also....

    "Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and New Deal 2.0 pundit Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist at U Mass, Boston, documents t More..

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • In the beginning of the article I was pissed that he didn't include all politicians. Then it went on to include them all one way or another. Reps. Dems. tea party etc are all about themselves.
    It will eventually get bad enough that the disarmed public will be like all the other disarmed citizens around the world, throwing rocks while the military mows us down.
    That's the plan.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • The redistribution of wealth agenda of the socialist liberals has failed.

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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  • Comment of user 'ReplicantDeckard' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • cough BULlSHIT cough

    Posted Aug-4-2011 By 

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