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Saturday, December 11, 2004
 
Are the Patriots Headed for Team of the Decade?

It may be a little early, but it's sure looking like they're going to put their stamp on this decade the way that Dallas did in the 1990s, San Francisco did in the 1980s, and Pittsburgh did in the 1970s, that Green Bay did in the 1960s. Of those, the only team that had not yet announced itself in that decade was Pittsburgh; they won their first Super Bowl following the 1974 season, so we can estimate that there's a 1 in four chance that it's somebody who has not established itself as a championship team. Remember, at this point in the 1970s anybody would have picked Miami as the team of the decade, with three Super Bowl appearances and two victories, including the undefeated season of 1972.
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Friday, December 10, 2004
 
Left Face?

Patrick Hynes has an excellent article about the uncivil war for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party today over at Crush Kerry.

In case you missed it, yesterday Crush Kerry pointed to this incredible article regarding an email from Eli Pariser, the head of MoveOn.org, where Pariser claimed that MoveOn "owns" the Democratic Party.

"In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive," the message continued. "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."

Pariser was probably responding to this article by Peter Beinart, where Beinart suggests that in order to be competitive, the Democrats need to publicly disassociate themselves from the left-wing fringe of the party as represented by Michael Moore and MoveOn.

Kerry was a flawed candidate, but he was not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem was the party's liberal base, which would have refused to nominate anyone who proposed redefining the Democratic Party in the way the ADA did in 1947. The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.

Here's the debate the Democrats are waging right now in a nutshell. Will the party do better by moving slightly to the right, to capture more votes in the center? Or will they do better by moving to the left, to energize their base and prevent the loss of votes to the Greens and/or Ralph Nader?

Howard Dean seems to think he can do both.

Let me tell you what my plan for this Party is:

We're going to win in Mississippi
...and Alabama
...and Idaho
...and South Carolina.


Sounds like he's going to the right, but:

I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.
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Update on Blogger Payments

Captain Ed linked to this post by Jon Lauck regarding the payments he received from the Thune campaign. Lauck writes:

On the eve of the release of the report skewering CBS for trying to undermine the President in the final months of the presidential race, I've been getting some very funny emails about this CBS News report attacking the Dakota blogs for not being "objective." Please keep them coming. Anyway, the broad issue is the continuing plausibility of MSM's claims to be "objective" when they are obviously not. Bloggers, on the other hand, have opinions. It's what we do.

This is missing the point entirely. Kerry Haters was not objective, either. The point is not about objectivity, it's about being bought and paid for. George Will is not objective. Molly Ivins is not objective. But they are also not paid shills for their respective political parties. They are free to criticize their own side when they feel it is warranted, and Will, in particular, seems to take delight in so doing.

It's fine that they made some money on their blogs; that's a good sign for the blogosphere. But they should have been candid with their readers. Lauck mentions that the Argus Leader had a front page article on his consulting deal with Thune; if that's the case, why didn't he disclose it to the rest of us?

Update: Hugh Hewitt has a similar take:

That having been said, the two blogs that received support from the Thune campaign ought to have declared that support. It is prudent to anticipate criticism and to disarm it by disclosure.
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Thursday, December 09, 2004
 
Color Me Disgusted--Updated--Welcome Captain's Quarters Readers!

By this story about two blogs which were covering the Daschle/Thune race in South Dakota. As you may be aware, over at Kerry Haters, we adopted John Thune's campaign with a "Thursdays 'R' for Thune" fundraising effort. We raised several thousand dollars thanks to our readers.

In covering the race, I relied a great deal on Daschle v. Thune, a blog authored by South Dakotan Jon Lauck. There was never any doubt in my mind that Lauck was a partisan for Thune. But I had no idea he was a paid shill for the campaign.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.

The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.

Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.


Well, I, for one, am disgusted with Lauck (I never read Van Beek's blog). He owed it to his readers to disclose the fact that he was receiving substantial amounts of money from Thune. And, for the record, our blog received nothing; we did it because we believed in John Thune and despised Tom Daschle.

Captain Ed is angry that CBS is using this story to tar all bloggers. That's fine, but how about a little condemnation of Lauck and Van Beek for handing them the brush?

Update: Captain Ed has more here, including an implicit condemnation of Lauck & Van Beek for not disclosing their remuneration. I withdraw any implied criticism above.
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The Right Take on Steroids

Kitty forwarded me this article on the steroids issue, and it presents what I consider one of the best arguments against steroids that I have yet read.

Imagine that in the future we develop drugs that will enable you to become strong, powerful and lean without touching a barbell, drugs that will make you indefatigable without your having to do endurance training. Coupled with this, let’s say we develop the capacity to hook someone up to a computer and infuse him with all the great skill and experience of the most seasoned prodigy, a la The Matrix. We would then have athletes and artists who would have tapped the upper limits of human potential, individuals who would have achieved the highest levels of mastery without lifting a finger. Now, I put it to you, would you be interested in watching these programmed organic robots ply their trades?

Exactly. Now, as I was reading that, a rebuttal came briefly to mind. Remember all the robot battle shows they used to have on TV a few years ago? I used to really enjoy those robots going after each other. But why? Not because they were robots, but because they were robots designed by human beings. And, like all things designed by human beings, they were imperfect.

When I was a kid, I used to fantasize about a baseball team made up of my favorite superheroes. The Flash could steal bases at will, while Superman could catch any ball hit to the outfield. Bouncing Boy could bounce over any tag, etc. But of course, after the initial novelty wore off, it would be boring as hell.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2004
 
Banging On the Drum

Kevin Drum has some questions for conservative bloggers that I thought I would take a crack at:

#1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

The American military power was not sent to Iraq to promote tolerance and democracy, it was sent to get rid of Saddam's regime. We cannot judge Iraq now. We may not even be able to judge Iraq five years from now. And no, my mind has not changed.

#2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

Lots of people say stupid things. The leaders of the religious left wing are people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who've both been known to make viciously anti-Semitic comments, comments that in Sharpton's case may have incited killings. Did John Kerry distance himself sufficiently from Al Sharpton and his followers? Or did Kerry pay him $86,000 to campaign for him?

#3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

So what's your point here, Kevin? Bush has given 50 million people a chance at freedom and democracy. His dad (and, mostly, Ronald Reagan) helped bring about the freedom of many millions more. How many people did Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton free? No, I don't think we should go around the globe freeing people from tyranny regardless of cost, and you'd be the first ones howling with anger if we tried to topple Cuba, for example.

#4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

Ah, it's all about oooooooiiiiiiiilllllll! Really, what a moron Drum is; no wonder Hugh Hewitt calls him a Peter Principle Blogger. To answer the question, short term and long term stable oil is more important because our economy runs on oil. DUH! And no, I don't need to see the records of Dick Cheney's energy task force to "verify" anything.

#5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

First of all, there is no strong movement in the Christian right opposing any compromise with the Palestinians. They support Israel, yes, and they probably do so for biblical reasons, but that does not mean they oppose Israel making agreements with the Palestinians (although like all of us they may be quite suspicious of what Israel actually manages to achieve with these agreements). I support Israel too, but if they can make a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians all the better.

#6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

Invade, probably not. Bomb the crap out of their facilities? You betcha.

#7. If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

If that's the decision he makes, I'll support it. He's got more information on the subject than I do, he's got lots of well-informed folks giving him their input. BTW, these questions are really amateurishly worded. When Drum says "after the January 30 elections," does he mean three years after, or, as I suspect, immediately after?

#8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

Excuse me? What exactly is taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? Another incredibly poorly worded question. As for what should be done with them, I say boiling in oil is too good for them, however poetically justified it may be.

Note the curious form of several (2,5 & 8) of the questions--ask about an extreme position a Republican has somewhere and then ask what should be done to that Republican. What does he expect, that we should drive those people from the party with pointed sticks? Are there any groups that are currently in the Democratic Party that hold crackpot theories on, oh, the JFK assassination, or 9-11, or Florida 2000 or Ohio 2004? No doubt Kevin is leading the purge as we speak.

Hat Tip: John Hawkins
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Scott Peterson's Mom's Plea

Reading this, I couldn't help thinking of the old joke about the guy who killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy because he was an orphan.

A frail-looking Jackie Peterson tearfully pleaded with jurors Wednesday to spare her son's life, saying that "if you were to take Scott away from us ... we would lose a whole family."
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Can Steroids Help Barry Bonds Hit .362?

Kitty forwarded to me this link to a partial transcript from the Rush Limbaugh show yesterday. Rush, not surprisingly, has concentrated his ire on the grand jury leaks, since he himself has been harmed by grand jury leaks in the past.

There is a common belief that although steroids may be helping Bonds hit all those homers, they cannot help his batting average. I myself have raised this argument in the past. But it seems possible that in fact it can help his batting average. Think about it for a second: Suppose earlier in his career, Bonds was hitting the ball 370 feet for a long out. But with his new power, the ball is going 400 feet, just enough to carry it over the fences. This clearly affects his batting average, because he gets an extra hit, increasing the numerator in the BA equation (hits/at bats).

So let's take a look at how Bonds hits when he's not knocking it out of the park. That's a fairly simple equation: (hits-homers)/(at bats-homers).

Here, year by year, are Bonds' actual batting averages along with his batting average on those occasions when he does not connect for the long ball.

Year Avg No HR
1986 0.223 0.191
1987 0.261 0.226
1988 0.283 0.249
1989 0.248 0.223
1990 0.301 0.253
1991 0.292 0.256
1992 0.311 0.257
1993 0.336 0.274
1994 0.312 0.240
1995 0.294 0.245
1996 0.308 0.246
1997 0.291 0.234
1998 0.303 0.252
1999 0.262 0.184
2000 0.306 0.227
2001 0.328 0.206
2002 0.370 0.289
2003 0.341 0.255
2004 0.362 0.274

As you can see, there can be a dramatic difference between the batting average with homers and that without. In 2001, when Bonds was the unanimous MVP selection due to his 73 homers, he actually had one of his worst seasons ever when not trotting around the bases.

Compare Bonds' 1991 season to 2003. Bonds actually hit better when not homering in 1991 (.256 to .255) compared to 2003. But last year he hit 20 more homers in 120 fewer at bats, so his batting average was almost 50 points higher in 2003.

So it seems clear that if steroids can make it possible for Bonds to hit the ball farther (as everybody seems to acknowledge), it is quite possible that it can also raise his batting average. Indeed, if we look at Bonds' last five years, which coincides with his sudden homer burst, Bonds has only raised his average when not homering by eight points from .240 to .248, but his overall batting average has jumped an incredible 51 points from .288 to .339.

None of this proves that Bonds has been using steroids. But it does significantly undermine one of the arguments against that proposition.
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The Reality-Based Community? Part XI

Is Bush the Anti-Christ? That's the question posed by Seattle Weekly writer Tim Appelo.

Lang is not using "Antichrist" in a tone of bitter sarcasm, as many do. Google "George Bush is the Antichrist," and you'll get a startling list of Web sites that argue the case, but with sardonic intent and whimsical 666-numerological riffs. Unwhimsical pundit Robert Wright, who attended Cavalry Baptist in Bush's Midland, Texas, hometown, uses modern science to puzzle out what may be God's plan in his bold book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. When he notes in Slate magazine that he supported John Kerry because "He's a long way from being the Messiah, but at least he's not the anti-Christ," Wright says not to take this as gospel. "Obviously, I was kidding—Bush isn't literally the Antichrist. But I do think he could conceivably do some pretty cataclysmic damage to the world. . . ." Even Christian Bush-basher Miller urgently distances himself from the Bush-as- Antichrist meme that's sweeping the Web: "The last thing I want is for someone to say, 'Bob Miller thinks Bush is the Antichrist!'"

It's funny that most liberals don't believe in God; but they are starting to believe in the anti-Christ.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2004
 
Blogger Roundup

Superhawk has an interesting post on Pearl Harbor Day (I am ashamed to admit that this year, for some reason, December 7th didn't ring a bell the way June 6th or September 11th always do).

My buddy from abpc, Mmmbacon has a great post on the day he almost killed his brother.

Liberal Utopia suggests that the Republicans should not make any deals with the lame duck Democrats in Congress. (Warning, this blog takes awhile to load).

More on Pearl Harbor Day at Kitty Litter and ACE.
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Blair's England: For Better Robberies

Here's a column by Mark Steyn that's not quite as amusing as his usual efforts, but instructive, nevertheless. Steyn takes on the rash of home invasions in the UK. Talking about a burglary where the robbers used the simple expedient of knocking on the door and killing the person who came to answer it, Steyn writes:

Various reassuring types, from police spokesmen to the Economist, described the stabbing of the Moncktons as a "burglary gone wrong". If only more burglaries could go right, they imply, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

But the trouble is that this kind of burglary - the kind most likely to go "wrong" - is now the norm in Britain. In America, it's called a "hot" burglary - a burglary that takes place when the homeowners are present - or a "home invasion", which is a much more accurate term. Just over 10 per cent of US burglaries are "hot" burglaries, and in my part of the world it's statistically insignificant: there is virtually zero chance of a New Hampshire home being broken into while the family are present. But in England and Wales it's more than 50 per cent and climbing. Which is hardly surprising given the police's petty, well-publicised pursuit of those citizens who have the impertinence to resist criminals.
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Monday, December 06, 2004
 
Power Ratings after Week 13

The AFC continues to dominate with nine of the top ten teams. Things are so bad in the NFC that the sixth worst team in the NFL, the Rams, are leading their division.

NE 113.3
Ind 112.3
Phi 112.0
Pit 107.4
SD 106.8
NYJ 106.4
Bal 105.5
KC 104.0
Den 103.6
Buf 103.4
GB 101.7
TB 100.2
Jax 100.1
Cin 100.0
Min 99.7
Atl 99.4
Car 98.4
Cle 98.1
Was 97.9
Ten 97.3
Sea 97.0
Hou 97.0
Chi 96.7
Det 96.4
Oak 96.3
NYG 96.2
StL 95.2
Dal 94.4
Mia 94.2
AZ 93.0
NO 90.2
SF 86.2
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Easy Jibe

Liz Smith reports on Michael Moore's recent depression:

"He was so unhappy over Bush's win, he didn't roll out of bed for three days," reports gossip columnist Liz Smith, after chatting with the left-wing movie man.

And we do mean "roll" out of bed.
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Ben Stein's Funny

Here's a humorous little article by Ben on his experiences with the small nods and winks from Red Staters stuck in Blue States.

This is the way it is here. We meet in smoky places. We give the high sign, we nod knowingly. We are like members of the Maquis in Occupied France. Or early Christians emerging from the catacombs in Caligula's Rome. We are the GOP in Hollywood, and on the West Side of L.A. The culture here is so dominantly left-wing, PC, vegan, hate-America that many of us feel we have to behave as if we were underground.
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Sunday, December 05, 2004
 
Week 13 Thoughts

1. The Jets moved a lot closer to a playoff berth, as they won while their two leading competitors for the two wild card slots (Denver and Baltimore) both lost.

2. Donovan McNabb threw for an Eagles' record 464 yards against the Packers. The odd thing is that the high yardage games usually show up in comeback attempts, but the Eagles never trailed and indeed seemed to be rubbing the Packers' noses in the dirt by the end of the game. Bad blood from last year's playoffs? McNabb making a statement that he should be MVP?

3. Peyton Manning didn't do much to move his case forward, with three TDs balanced by 2 interceptions. McNabb is at 29-5, while Manning has 44-9. McNabb adds something more to his teams in running (he has 185 yards compared to Manning's 17 yards), and his team is 11-1 compared to 9-3 for the Colts.

4. The losses by Denver and Baltimore the last two weeks have brought new life to the Cincinnati Bengals, who suddenly find themselves only a game out of the playoffs. They have a tie-breaker over the Broncos but not the Ravens.

5. While St. Louis is currently in the lead for the final NFC Wild Card, they have a tough schedule ahead, playing at Carolina and Arizona, and home against Philly and the Jets. Actually, Carolina may look like they're playing well lately, with four straight wins, but they've been playing some pretty wimpy teams with San Francisco, Arizona, Tampa Bay and New Orleans doing their respective Washington Generals imitation.

6. Chad Hutchison kept Jeff George on the bench!
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Not All Seeds Are Created Equal

I took a look at how the respective seeds had done in the playoffs. Since 1988, the 32 top seeds have combined for 17 total appearances in the big game, for a 53% chance of playing for the Lombardi Trophy. No real surprise here--the chalk usually wins. When they stumble, the #2 seeds usually pick up the slack. They have accounted for 10 of the remaining 15 Super Bowl contestants, or 31% of all appearances.

The third and fourth seeds make up the remainder, as no fifth or sixth seed has made it to the big dance since 1988 (I believe the 1985 New England Patriots are the only fifth seed ever to appear in the Super Bowl). Oddly, the fourth seed has done better, with four appearances compare to only one for the third seed.

Actually, though, it's not so odd. Back in the days when there were only three divisions in each conference, it was quite possible for the fourth seed to be better than the third seeds. Starting from 1990, when the NFL went to having six teams in the postseason from each conference, to 2001, when the fourth seed stopped being a wild card team, the fourth seeds in the AFC combined for a 131-61 record, versus a combined 123-69 for the AFC third seeds. The fourth seeds in the NFC combined for a 130-62 record, as compared to 125-66-1 for the NFC third seeds.

But... that situation no longer applies. Now the third seed will have no worse than an equal record to the fourth seed, and so far they have finished well above the fourth seeds. The AFC third seeds the last two years have combined for a 22-9-1 record versus 19-13 for the fourth seeds. The NFC third seeds have gone 23-9 versus 20-12 for the fourth seeds.
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Week 13 Marquee Game

Obviously the big one is the rematch of last year's NFL Divisional Playoff between the Packers and the Eagles. The Packers needed only to hold on fourth and 26 to win that game; instead they gave up a 27-yard pass.

Both teams come in with solid momentum; the Packers have won six straight while the Eagles have notched three consecutive easy wins. The Packers this year have a negative home field advantage (-3 points), which is to say they've played better on the road (4-1) this year than at home (3-3). The Eagles come in with an average HFA of 2.8 points per game.

The spreadsheet sees this as an easy, two-touchdown win for Philly. It's safe to say that most observers are not expecting that; the Packers have been playing well. They have outscored their opponents the last six weeks by 97 points while the Eagles have outscored theirs by 55. On the other hand, the Packers have faced a pretty easy schedule over that run (average opponent rating of 96.4), while the Eagles have had average competition (average opponent rating of 100.0).

The Packers obviously have something to play for, with Minnesota having an easier game at Chicago. The Packers are looking at a fifth seed in the playoffs, which virtually guarantees three road playoff games between you and the Super Bowl. I can think of one team that has won three road playoff games to make it to the dance--any trivia buffs out there care to guess?

The Eagles also have something to play for: Home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The last I looked at the matter, home teams won about 68% of all playoff games and the team with the HFA throughout the playoffs made it to the Super Bowl about 1/2 the time. If the Eagles lose that would drop them into a nominal tie with Atlanta, but it looks like Philly has the tie-breaker in that they beat Detroit and Atlanta lost to the Lions. So obviously Philly has less urgency than the Packers.

The line is only Eagles -6, so overall I'd have to pick the Eagles. But this is one of those games that I'd be spooked from betting because there's too much else out there.
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Brainster in the Media

Howard Kurtz's Media Notes: May 27, 2005

Slate Today's Blogs:

March 16, 2005

May 9, 2005

June 3, 2005

Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

Hugh Hewitt: KerryHaters was on this story a long time ago. How could the elite media not have asked these questions before now?

Ankle-Biting Pundits: Our friends Pat and Kitty at Kerry Haters deserve the blog equivalent of a Pulitzer for their coverage of Kerry's intricate web of lies regarding Vietnam.

The Weekly Standard

Les Kinsolving

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What If the Rest of the Fantastic Four Were Peaceniks?

Lefty Bloggers on Gay Witchhunt (linked by 16 blogs including Instapundit)

Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

Brainster Shows Brinkley Says No Christmas in Cambodia

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Power Ratings Explained



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