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Still trying to make the surge a failure
Posted by: McQ on Friday, January 11, 2008

Of course much of the media and most of the left are doing their level best to make the point that on it's one year anniversary, the surge hasn't worked.

WaPo's Pentagon reporter Thomas Ricks responding to a question about whether the Iraqis think it has worked (asked by Keith Olberman) on MSNBC:
I think Iraqis recognize that large parts of Baghdad are more peaceful than they were, but violence is basically back to 2005 levels. And that was no picnic, 2005. It’s just 2006 was pure hell.
Well, yeah, which means 70% reductions in violence argue strongly that the surge worked in accomplishing precisely what it was supposed to in that regard, huh?

UPDATE: Ralph Peters has a different, and much more contextual view of what has happened:
Meanwhile, "Happy Birthday, Surge!"

One year ago, "the surge" kicked off as a forlorn hope, our last chance to get it right.

The odds were against us. Terrorist violence was out of control. Baghdad was a toxic wreck. Militias ruled, with ethnic cleansing rampant. And Iraq's leaders couldn't even agree about which day of the week it was.

[...]

And then it all went right. Confounding Dems who expected him to preside over a retreat, Petraeus took the fight to the enemy like a rat terrier on meth. Jettisoning all the p.c. dogma, he turned out to be the first true warrior we put in command in Iraq.

Luck turned our way, too - and luck matters in war. Al Qaeda had managed to alienate its erstwhile Sunni Arab allies in record time. Former insurgents decided that the Great Satan America made a better dancing partner than Osama & Co.

Although analysts have missed it completely, the execution of Saddam Hussein helped, too: It took away the rallying figure for Sunni hardliners and made it easier for former insurgents to switch allegiance. The shock of Saddam's hanging jarred Iraq's Sunni Arabs back to reality: Big Daddy with the mustache wasn't coming back.

Meanwhile, the rest of the population was just sick of the violence. The merchant class wanted to get back to business. Tribal sheiks felt betrayed by foreign terrorists. And mashallah! We had veteran commanders on the ground who recognized the shifts underway in Iraqi society and capitalized on them.

Petraeus manifested two stages of military genius: 1) He recognized exactly what had to be done. 2) He didn't imagine he could do it all himself.

Our new man in Baghdad had the wisdom to give subordinate commanders a long leash when they caught a good scent.

Without in any way detracting from Petraeus, the indispensable man, our success this past year rested heavily upon field commanders far from the flagpole having the savvy to realize that the local sheik just needed one last bit of encouragement to jump sides.

Oh, and the left turned out to be dead wrong, as usual. We hadn't created an unlimited supply of terrorists. In fact, the supply turned out to be very finite, to al Qaeda's chagrin. And killing them worked. (One of the great untold stories of 2007 was the number of al Qaeda corpses.)

And our former enemies have been killing them for us.
But the surge has failed and there has been no progress in Iraq, and don't you forget it.

For you not familiar with the term "forlorn hope" used in a military sense, the Brits used to use volunteers to do what were basically suicide missions (like taking the breach in a well defended wall) with the promise of instant promotion to those who survived. Interestingly, there were always volunteers. But I think, if you recall the unanimous confirmation Petraeus got from the Senate, the characterization is exactly correct - most of them gave Petraeus no real chance of success (and one of them later said it would take "a willing suspension of disbelief" to believe him if he said it was working).
 
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I would dare say the Iraqi government accomplished at least as much as the US Congress under the Democrats.

Shouldn’t there be another set of Iraq progress reports coming out in the next few months?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
But the surge has failed and there has been no progress in Iraq, and don;t you forget it.
Thank goodness you are finally getting it, McQ. I have tried so hard to make all of you at QandO understand that Iraq is going to be a failure no matter what happens, and it looks like I am getting through to you. Assuming you were not being sarcastic, of course. I am completely blind to sarcasm, because of the required operation we political science professors have to remove our sense of humor.

After all, 2007 was the most violent year. And at the end of 2008, we anti-war partisans will find some other benchmark to prove Iraq is a failure. After all, there is no shortage of formerly intellectually honest players such as Lancet who are quite prepared to do a study to prove whatever we need them to prove to support our intuitive case that Iraq is a failure. So we will find one, and I will quote it in every other post, even after the methodology has been completely demolished by serious analysts. And if you complain that I am doing that, I will claim you are being emotional.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
Ott:

You understand the Liberal mindset and their political treachery so well.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
I concur with Doctor Scerb. There are a number of practical goal posts that can EASILY be produced and advanced to demonstrate the complete, utter, and abject failure of the Neo-Con Social Engineering Adventure in the Mesopotamian River Basin.
1) Traffic tickets. How many are issued and then how many are paid? This vital metric let’s us know if:
a) Iraqi’s drive like the people of Boston, only out of fear of US/Iraqi atrocities, rather than from strange beer-induced tendency to simply ignore traffic laws; and
b) If Iraq is a nation of laws or scoff-laws; and
c) The degree to which Iraqi’s obey their law and the degree of corruption inherent in the system.
And let me at this point posit, that the number of tickets will be higher under the current regime than the Saddam regime, certainly on the order of 655,000 more tickets, at least, possibly a million more tickets than under the ancien regime.

Next let me ask, how many Political Science professorships have been fully funded in Iraq since 2003? Also has Noam Chomsky been invited to speak in Iraq? Has an Edward Said Chair of Orientalist Studies been established in Iraq? How else can the Iraqi people understand the nature of the cruel oppression they currently labour under without the necessary Liberal Arts courses being made available? Who can reveal the awful gap between their current existence as compared to their idyllic kite-flying existence under the UN-approved Saddam Regime? Who if not Western trained political scientists?

I think by these two metrics alone, Iraq can be judged a titanic failure of the worst magnitude. The Bush Cabal’s failure to adequately plan for the post-Saddam regime by ensuring a sufficient number of Liberal Arts professors to be “on the ground” to expound upon US perfidy ranks as the most telling and egregious error that the US has made in this sorry fiasco!

(Editorial Note: Where IS Dr. Erb? Does he not come by, because all the good talking points have already been taken?)
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
You all can drink the kool aid as much as you’d like, but the surge wasn’t just about killing terrorists, it was supposed to be a critical first step that led to our being able to get the heck out of there. And yet, despite all of the surge’s ’success’, that wonderful day is still years and years and years and years away. That’s years and years and years of having American soldiers die babysitting the Iraqis. Even the Iraqis admit they need us, now and for decades to come, to protect them since they’re incapable and/or unwilling to do the heavy lifting themselves.

And while the surge has thankfully led to fewer American soldiers losing their lives than pre-surge, every American death in the months and years to come is an American soldier who wouldn’t have died had Bush the sense to invade, get rid of Hussein and his sons, confirm that absence of WMDs and then leave Iraq to the Iraqis to sort out for themselves.

But no, Bush had a (pipe) dream that liberating Iraq and calling it a democracy was going to inspire the world to renounce terrorism, make the dictators of the world give up their power and leave everybody holding hands, drinking Coke and singing songs. And how’s that coming? Has Iran given up terrorism and pursuing nukes with which to threaten and use against its neighbors? Has Syria decided to leave Lebanon alone? Have the Palestinians decided to make peace with Israel? Have the Pakistanis gotten rid of Al Qaeda and have the Afghans gotten rid of the Taliban? Have the crazy Muslims in Indonesia stopped beheading Christian kids on their way to school? Have the Saudis stopped exporting money and hate around the world? Have the Muslims in France stopped burning cars and shooting at policemen? Have the Muslims in England stopped trying to blow up subways and buses?

And while you all are toasting Bush for his steadfastness in keeping American troops dying in Iraq, he’s done nothing to address the far more serious national security problems this country faces. Our border security is a joke, the terrorists have safe havens around the world. But that’s all right, all that matters is that the Ralph Peters says the surge is a great success.
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
More sour grapes, Steve?
And while you all are toasting Bush for his steadfastness in keeping American troops dying in Iraq, he’s done nothing to address the far more serious national security problems this country faces. Our border security is a joke, the terrorists have safe havens around the world.
And who here has suggested otherwise. The subject was the surge.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Tourniquets work, but they’re temporary and they have to come off at some point.
The surge is a tourniquet. Later this year, it will come off. And only then will it be possible to say whether or not the surge "worked". And even if does "work", we won’t be near the end goal of this whole Iraqi adventure—a stable democratic Iraq able to defend itself internally and externally, and in which all the various communities accept each other as participants. So you supporters of the Bush adventure had best just shut up and hope things work out your way. They might, but a betting man wouldn’t bet on it. The actual evidence points the other way. At the moment, you merely sound like an oncologist celebrating the fact that a new treatment has extended the patient’s life by three months.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
The surge is a tourniquet. Later this year, it will come off. And only then will it be possible to say whether or not the surge "worked".
Of course - that explains why Anbar is reverting to Iraqi control in March, doesn’t it? The tourniquet is coming off.

Hard for those hoping for failure to see past the rhetoric and failed analogies, isn’t it? They’re just so familiar and comforting they’re hard to give up, huh?

As I mentioned in another post, Fred Thompson said it best when he said that claiming there has been no progress in Iraq because only 9 of the 18 benchmarks have been achieved is like claiming all progress in the US takes place in Washington DC. You have to completely ignore the progress in greater Iraq over the past year to make that argument.
The actual evidence points the other way.
Really? Well how about trotting a little out there for all to see.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You have to completely ignore the progress in greater Iraq over the past year to make that argument.
I guess that depends on whether you see the nearing completionof the ethnic clensing in Baghdad and Kirkuk as "progress" or not.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I guess that depends on whether you see the nearing completionof the ethnic clensing in Baghdad and Kirkuk as "progress" or not.
Nothing but shopworn talking points to offer, Retief?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, McQ, if things are going so well, when are our troops coming home? When will we have no troops getting killed there, rather than just not as many as we used to have? Can you even begin to guess at the decade they’ll be coming home?

Using the European occupation analogy (apparently not a failed analogy in your book) some of your fellow koolaid drinking commenters have used, we suffered next to no (if any at all) casualties in Europe from hostile action in the 60s, 70s and 80s. When we will be so lucky in Iraq?

You can put lipstick on the pig all you want, but so long as we can’t see the day - or decade - when our troops are safe from hostile forces and can come home, we ain’t winning.

And do you really believe the terrorist have all been killed or gone away and given up the fight? That the Sunnis and Shiites have buried the hatchet and decided to forever make war no more, that the likes of Al Sadr have decided to focus all of their efforts on achieving power through the ballot box? If you do, tis a shame, and I have a bridge I’d like you to look at. If you don’t, will you admit that what we’re seeing is perhaps not a whole lot more than a momentary (though welcome) respite due to the bad guys holing up and waiting for things to quiet down before they go back to work.... just as (insert another failed analogy) police sweeps in the inner city don’t eliminate crime, the bad guys just wait for it to pass...
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
Well, McQ, if things are going so well, when are our troops coming home?
Well Steve, if they keep turning provinces over to the Iraqis, I’d say pretty soon, wouldn’t you?
Using the European occupation analogy (apparently not a failed analogy in your book) some of your fellow koolaid drinking commenters have used, we suffered next to no (if any at all) casualties in Europe from hostile action in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Ah, so it’s all about casualties and nothing but casualties, Steve? As you might have figured out, those who volunteer for the military understand the risk. As you might not understand, if we get the troop strength down to 10 combat brigades there, that’s sustainable indefinitely. And yeah, that’s like the European model which I assume you supported.
And do you really believe the terrorist have all been killed or gone away and given up the fight?
Has anyone here suggested they have?

You have really gotten into the strawman business, haven’t you? That’s usually what happens when you have nothing else.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, McQ, if things are going so well, when are our troops coming home?
Well Steve, if they keep turning provinces over to the Iraqis, I’d say pretty soon
And you can take that to the bank. In fact, if you had taken that to the bank or, better yet, put it in the stock market back when McQ first said that the troops would be coming home "soon," you’d be a wealthy man . . . Oh, except that because of the Iraq War our national debt is grotesque, we are sinking into a recession, and, therefore, the stock market is tanking. So Bush can’t even keep the rich people happy anymore. Well, at least bin Laden and al Qaeda still support his administration’s policies.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
QandO must be a guilty habit for some. They claim they are not going to do it anymore, and then...
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Well, at least bin Laden and al Qaeda still support his administration’s policies.
And the Democrats still support’s bin Laden and al Qaeda’s policies. So I’m guessing David will cut out the middleman and just vote Republican this year.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Nothing but shopworn talking points to offer, Retief?
WTF? Are Baghdad and Kirkuk are more or less ethnically mixed than they were 4 years ago? Are the concrete walls of the Surge not seperating Sunni from Shia?

BTW is "pretty soon" longer or shorter than fall of ’09 - the time by when having all our troops gone was evidence of Edwards’ insanity?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
So you supporters of the Bush adventure had best just shut up and hope things work out your way
Let that comment sink in for moment. It speaks to the predominant leftist mindset. You see, if we’re successful in Iraq, even though that would be great for America, wonderful for Iraq and great for the world, to the left, it would be a good thing only for those on McQ’s "side". It’s a despicable worldview, but it’s how the the ’noble’ left truly thinks. It’s who they are.
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
And do you really believe the terrorist have all been killed or gone away and given up the fight?
Goal post moving alert! The left has told us again and again and again for years that "we’re creating more terrorists by fighting in Iraq". They screamed that meme over and over and over to everyone who would listen. Now that the underlying character of the war in Iraq has changed in a way which contradicts that claim made so many times by the left, they’re now scrambling like roaches trying to redefine success with strawmen like "do you really believe the terrorists have all been killed or gone away", as if the definition of success would have to be the death of every single terrorist. It’s a deeply dishonest and pathetic argument on their part.
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
because of the Iraq War our national debt is grotesque, we are sinking into a recession, and, therefore, the stock market is tanking
Wow, assuming this is all true (and you are assuming based on which set of experts you believe), this is all directly attributable to the war? A war which costs 2-3% of GDP is causing the stock market to "tank"? I guess if "tanking" means "standard market corrections during perceived economic downturns"... And all this time, I thought the housing and credit problems were the primary factors.
Really, this BDS is getting out of hand. There are sectors with problems right now, but the economy continues to grow. Wake me when we have ONE quarter of negative growth. You folks are sad and flailing.
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
Dave S. Please oh please stay...Doctor Erb is getting old. We need you, really. Or is this well and TRULY your last posting?


And Dave it’s nothing personal, like I say you could easily become "Shave Daughnessy" had have a lovely posting career here, just like Ott Screb, but if you really don’t want mordant wit tossed your way, your really need to keep your promise(s) and leave, once you’ve left...otherwise it makes you pathetic, sometimes MORE pathetic.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
if you really don’t want mordant wit tossed your way, your really need to keep your promise(s) and leave, once you’ve left
Thanks for the advice, Joe, I’ll give it the respect it deserves. And please feel free to invent as many on-line caricatures as you like, if that’s how you care to spend your time. Knock yourself out.
Shave Daughnessy
Wow. That’s really mordant. And witty.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
General Petraeus has demonstrated that better leadership and more soldiers are key. Those of us who were saying exactly that four years ago, and being called traitors and worse for saying so, might want to gloat, if not for the tens of thousands of dead and wounded piled up while we waited for the rest of y’all to get a frakkin’ clue. Leadership is everything in war. Mass comes in as a distant, but essential, factor. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the same commander-in-chief, and looking at nothing better.

Now, what with the Republicans being the party of "personal responsibility," maybe we’ll be hearing an outpouring of "mea culpa’s" on this point. On the other hand, if that "personal responsibility" thing is only for thee, not for meee, maybe we’ll just hear crickets chirping. I’m hearing crickets.

Meanwhile, for those asking, "Can we go home yet?" here’s the juice: Iraq has the forth largest proven oil reserves in the world. But a well-explored oil patch looks like Texas, where a million wells have been drilled over a hundred years, and we pretty much know what’s there.

There are two thousand wells in Iraq. It has the fourth-in-the-world "proven" reserves, but nobody knows how much is actually there. Educated guesses approach and even exceed the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. May be more, may be less, but it’s billions and billions. Hundreds of bilions, actually, of barrels.

Now, just at the moment in history when world oil production is plateauing, and world oil demand is hyperbolicking, the most powerful military force on the planet is sitting on top of the world’s richest unexplored oil patch. When are they going to leave? You don’t need me to tell you.

Never.

Jody

 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Gee Dave as useful as coming in here with the usual BDS symptoms and then explaining in HIGH DUNGEON that you had had ENOUGH and were outta here...Geee We didn’t even get a chance to miss you once you were gone, because you just don’t leave...
or as that classic C&W song says, "How Can I Miss You, If You Won’t Go Away?"

You’re the one that brings it upon yourself....Hey here’s a hint:
1) Admit that you were a bit hasty/hysterical/silly for claiming that you were leaving and not coming back; OR
2) Just frak’n live up to your claim and LEAVE and DON’T COME BACK!

Otherwisae expect to have a few or more than a few jobes tossed your way.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Hye jody, if it was a War For Oil, why didn’t we just lift the embargo and BUY THE FREAK’N OIL?!?! Oh yeah, that’s right it wasn’t about oil, just in some fever-stricken minds suffering from BDS.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Let that comment sink in for moment. It speaks to the predominant leftist mindset. You see, if we’re successful in Iraq, even though that would be great for America, wonderful for Iraq and great for the world, to the left, it would be a good thing only for those on McQ’s "side". It’s a despicable worldview, but it’s how the the ’noble’ left truly thinks. It’s who they are.

I pity you. I make an honest statement that it would be nice if "McQ’s side" turned out to be right, and you think I mean it totally different.

It would be a good thing if Bush’s goals were achieved. But there is not the slightest reason to believe they can be achieved in any recognizable form, unless you’re a girl named Dorothy Gale and have a pair of red shoes on.

And, btw, in as much as the war has driven up oil prices—not an effect open to precise measurement, perhaps, but I defy any of you to claim it has not done so—it is responsible for the economic bad times we are enduring. (And where I am, it’s been a recession for most of the last year, no matter what the rest of the country may be doing).
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
"Or is this well and TRULY your last posting?"

Nah, I think he is doing the James Brown thing.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Well, yes, Virginia, I mean Joe, we were "BUY[ing] THE FREAK’N OIL?!?! " and had been all along.

Saddam never stopped pumping oil. Who the frak do you think was buying it, Joe, the Red Cross?

If, Joe, you had been paying any attention for the last fifteen years, you might have heard of a little scam called the "Oil for Food" programme, a black market set up by Clinton and run out of the UN, wherein the stateless (not to say, American,) oil companies continued business as usual with Saddam, politicians pretended they were being tough, and morons everywhere bought it all. Oil for Food had to be set up because the original sanctions, put in place by Bush the Daddy, were killing an embarrassing number of Iraqi children. UN functionaries pocketed more in bribes than they ever imagined possible when they were teenage goatherds. Saddam was hugely empowered because he could profit far more on embargoed, that is, black market, oil than on the open market and so kept his generals rich and himself in power. The kids, who nobody actually cared about, kept dying, and the oil companies jes’ kep’ on keepin’ on.

Trouble was, Saddam was selling oil to just everyone and we couldn’t have that. So, off with his head.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
And, btw, in as much as the war has driven up oil prices—not an effect open to precise measurement, perhaps, but I defy any of you to claim it has not done so—it is responsible for the economic bad times we are enduring
I’ll make the claim that the war in Iraq has not had jack sh*t of an impact on rising oil prices, and unlike you, I’ll actually present facts to support my argument. The US military uses 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day, usage up less than 20% from peacetime fuel usage per the same article. So the war in Iraq and Afganistan together increase fuel demand about 320,000 gallons (not barrels) per day. Obviously, during peacetime our military still needs to use fuel for day-to-day operations and preparedness exercises.

Although it depends a lot on the type of fuel and type of crude, it’s reasonable to say that a barrel of oil (42 gallons to a barrel) produces around 20 gallons of fuel, with the rest being used for other applications that would be needed anyway such as heating oil. 320,000 gallons fuel / 20 = ~ 16,000 barrels of additional oil demand per day from our military, numbers which are almost certainly an overestimate, and they also factor in Afghanistan.

World oil production is about 85,000,000 barrels per day, which means, contrary to your assertion, that increased military fuel demand from the Iraq war amounts to a fart in a windstorm, and that’s not factoring in our efforts resuscitating Iraq’s broken oil and gas production infrastructure which Saddam had left in a shambles. The increase in oil prices is due almost entirely to growth of the worldwide economy, particularly oil demand from China and India. I’m sorry you are too ignorant to have known better, but that’s what happens when you spout talking points without having the first clue.

 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
Oil for Food had to be set up because the original sanctions, put in place by Bush the Daddy, were killing an embarrassing number of Iraqi children.
Whereas your description of UN corruption is accurate, regarding the killing of Iraqi children, can there be any honest doubt that Iraqi children who starved to death or died from lack of basic medicine (Saddam refused open access to get an accurate assessment, so numbers of dead Iraqi children came straight from Saddam’s propaganda. He can be trusted, right?)... that the responsibility for their deaths would lie squarely on the shoulders of Saddam himself, who took the Oil for Food money and spent that money building palaces across the country stacked to the rafters with guns and cash?
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
And, btw, in as much as the war has driven up oil prices—not an effect open to precise measurement, perhaps, but I defy any of you to claim it has not done so—it is responsible for the economic bad times we are enduring. (And where I am, it’s been a recession for most of the last year, no matter what the rest of the country may be doing).

I’ll take the challenge. Oil prices at the start of 2004 were lower than they were in February, 2003. There’s been a relatively steady increase in oil prices since 2004, but it’s hard to pin that on the war. Far more likely, it’s the result of increase in global demand.

There are only two ways that the war would have served to increase oil prices. One would be decreasing supply. Supply may have dropped, but not enough to account for a > 200% increase in the price. The other would be the risk premium. But that would have been factored in at the start of the war, and as I pointed out, the price dropped in 2003 after the war started.

Here is a listing of oil prices by month.

I’ve got data to back up my arguments; what do you have?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
I’ve got data to back up my arguments; what do you have?
Data schmata, facts schmacts, he/she has a "feeling" that US military action in Iraq is responsible for the sharp rise in oil prices... and that feeling is what really matters.
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
"not an effect open to precise measurement, perhaps, but I defy any of you to claim it has not done so—it is responsible for the economic bad times we are enduring."

Interesting. He can’t quantify the effect on price, but he can quantify the contribution (100%) of this unquantified price increase on the economy. Such keen and rigorous analysis is impressive.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
And, btw, in as much as the war has driven up oil prices—not an effect open to precise measurement, perhaps, but I defy any of you to claim it has not done so—it is responsible for the economic bad times we are enduring. (And where I am, it’s been a recession for most of the last year, no matter what the rest of the country may be doing).
Well, I’m convinced. Submit vague needle-threading anecdotes then throw burden of proof on opponent. Solid. By the way, I’m doing fine economically without any ties to the Bush Administration or Big Oil. Does this shock you?
Oil for Food had to be set up because the original sanctions, put in place by Bush the Daddy, were killing an embarrassing number of Iraqi children.
I’m sure you’re still quoting the Lancet civilian death study as well. By all means, stick to your own facts, no matter how thin they get. Good form.
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://

 
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