Monday, April 30, 2007

Years of tainted Pet Food from China

NY Time and Reuters have now reported that melamine, used to make plastic, has been added to grains and gluten by some Chinese companies to boost the real protein content of pet food. This has been happening FOR YEARS.

What now?
I have 5 cats that died since 2000 that I am convinced got sick from food, (with a little help from vaccines tossed in for bad measure)

How will we know when our job is done?
-Kim of Petfoodtracker

(Kim along with Ben of Itchmo, Nikki of Howl911, Theresa of PetsitUSA and of course Gina and Christine of Petconnection are the brilliant bloggers tracking this pet food recall crisis, go there and read, and donate too!)

I'll give some advice to the pet food companies on what to do next. (Will they listen to a Brain in a Box? I doubt it, but I have to try.)

1) Stop treating this like a recall of a defective product. This is food that kills living things. Not a product whose malfunction causes an inconvenience. This is not Dell recalling batteries. Think Johnson and Johnson recalling Tylenol. That is your shorthand message. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

2) Listen to your real customers, people with pets. People tell you that, but I know many CEOs DON'T know what their real end users really think. Who do CEOs see as their customer? Wall Street analysts, the board of directors and the major retailers. But they are not the ones whose "fur kids" are dying. Pet parents, as many call themselves, won't just down grade your stock. They want you in jail. You killed their fur kid, they will tell EVERYONE they know, until they trust you again...if ever.

3) Do the hard thing that will restore trust for the end user. The Tylenol story is bandied about as the gold standard of the right way to do things. J&J focused on restoring trust to the end user, based on their corporate value of safety, not "how to I keep the big retailers who buy truckloads happy?"

Don't think, "How do I minimize this for Wall Street so that the quarterlies will look good after the 25 million dollar write down for the recall.' Think, 'What will it take to convince the end user, whose pet is dead, to buy my food again?" When you answer THAT question then you will know what to do.

Companies ask, "What are blogs good for? " Most companies want to push to bloggers, to sell them stuff. They ask, "How do I get them to write good stuff about my products?"
Wrong question. Ask, "What are they saying about my company and product?" READ them for customer attitudes instead of figuring out how to sell stuff to people with blogs. What would you learn? Just how PISSED people are and, since your customers are smart, what they want you to do before they trust you again.

4) Bring in third party trusted testers. Not just "inspectors", TESTERS. People who actually analyze food. Then need to be independently funded and above reproach. Test EVERYTHING. Give them veto power over everything that goes into the food. For manufacturers the phase you are afraid of but you need? "They can stop the line."

5) Open up your records. Where does it comes from, what's in it? The cat's out of the bag (and he's not eating your food!) People now know about the Chinese connection, but do they know about the other dirty little secrets like rendering plants and what THEY put in the food? Dead, diseased, dying and down cattle are not good things to put in any food.
Now is the time to do this, or just wait until the mad cow strikes again, your choice.

6) Spend more on labeling than on marketing for 6 months.

7) Demand more of the FDA and the USDA and government regulators.
Instead of screaming, "We can regulate ourselves!" Admit you have done a crummy job and say, "Please FDA, inspect us MORE. Here is MORE and FASTER access to our information. And here is the information about our suppliers. Here are our databases. This is NOT proprietary any more, you don't have to beg us for paperwork anymore." (I'm looking at you ConAgra).

8) Really communicate with your end users. The CEO and operations person should be on the phone talking to the folks whose pets have died. What do THEY want? What will it take to make they trust you again? If your communications people told you to do this and you didn't, listen to them now. If they didn't, get someone who understands how to keep your end users happy.

Lots of lawyers might have tried to help you minimize this. That ship has sailed, you need to go big with your story and THEN it will be minimized, but as we see from politics, it's often the attempts to cover up and down play a crisis that just makes it bigger.

I don't expect any companies to listen to or follow any of this advice. Why? Because right now they are listening to the "experts". The experts you need to hear from first are the people whose pets are sick or dead. Then trust your gut, if you have a heart you'll know what really needs to be done.

We hear you say, "We have pets too." But we don't hear what you would do if this happened to YOUR pet. What could you do to make your dead dog proud of you again? What would your dog, who you fed tainted food, ask of you to make it stop, so it never happened again? Your dog can't talk to you, but their guardians can. The parents of "fur kids" can tell you want they need.

What do I think? The company that goes big and demands testing, and welcomes regulation and opens up their books, will "win" this crisis. Everyone else might survive, but they will never come out of this like Johnson and Johnson did.

Who do you want to be like Mr. Pet Food CEO and Mr. Pet Food Brand Manager? Union Carbide after Bhopal or Johnson and Johnson after Tylenol? The choice is yours.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why Companies Should Listen to People who Blog

Sometimes the head of big corporations talk about bloggers as if they were some breed apart from humans.

News Flash corporate CEOs: Bloggers are your customers, your employees, your neighbors, your family members.

They want to be heard. Pay attention, this is a huge opportunity to learn and listen. But some companies are so used to outward directed communications to investors that they will make heartless mistakes in the eyes of customers. This is going to cost them, and if they get caught covering up or their foot dragging is exposed, it will cost them even more. This is NOT going to go away with a few Friday afternoon press release dumps.

You killed her Kitty. That's BAD PR, in any language.

Read this post from Kelly B at Pet Connection. Pay attention to this voice. Corporate communications people at good pet food companies, read this post. If you help these people, and prove your food is safe (with independent experts) they will flock to your brand.

ALL PET FOOD NEEDS TO BE TESTED and the TRUTH needs to COME out Now!!!!! Our Furry Babies are dieing.. I have so much sadness/grief over losing Miss Cuddles my Precious Companion kitty for 13 yrs she was healthy, then I found her in the kitchen by her cat food helpless.. I held her all night on the Living room carpet made a Shrine toys,blaikiets pics It was a matter of hrs no time for the Vet.. I took her to bed that evening.. and at 10 am she coughed twicw had a seizure and died.. My Baby Angel.. I put her in a casket made for her She is in Cold Storage till May..when the Ground untaws so I can bury her.. I am mad and Sad.. I called the news they put this story out in the Front page.. I need more Proof.. she made need an Autopsy.. I love my Angel Miss Cuddles She’s All I HAD!!!
Please Plase Resolve this and Get at the TRUTH!!!!!!!!!
I miss My Miss Cuddles with Love and Many TeArs.. I am HEART BROKEN!!!
Love Kelly 4-Cuddles Alway!!!

Comment by kelly B — April 1, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

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Friday, March 16, 2007

McCain Brand Slippage on "Straight Talk Express"

A good friend of my bragged about how the ties he bought were all silk but he only paid 2 dollars a piece for them. They looked 100% polyester to me and I wondered how they could be all silk at that low price. He flipped the tie over and showed me the brand name label on the tie.
"All Silk"®

Of course the tie was made out of polyester, but the large brand name label said "All Silk"®

I think about that story and the John McCain Straight Talk Express.®

How do you know that he's giving you the straight talk? Well, you are ON the Straight Talk Express®, so you must be getting straight talk!

Media Matters shows ABC's Tapper gushing
about McCain as a straight talker because he's back on the Straight Talk Express® Bus.

And as worrierking from the Media Matters comments section points out:

Straight Talk My Ass.

[link to]

Just because you name your bus the Straight Talk Express"® doesn't mean anything, except to people who are easily lead by apperances. You need to ask "Is the outside appearance consistent with inside?" If it isn't, stop referring to the outside as if it reflects the inside, unless you are being sarcastic.

If you call your self a Pro-Troop group but you really are the, "Get Cindy Sheehan, Stalking Tour" then the media should ask you, "Why the anger at Cindy Sheehan. Did she kill your son? Why the promoting of potential conflict with Code Pink? Are you really more concerned with supporting the troops or making Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink look like criminals?" I hope the media asks THESE questions of the Move America Forward "pro-troop" rally on Saturday.

And if they don't ask those questions maybe they should check their ties, they are probably "All Silk"®

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Landrieu Wants Flood Control Pumps Investigation

Louisiana Sen. Landrieu Wants Flood Control Pumps Investigation, Casts Votes on Iraq

Written by: BayouBuzz Staff

United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., on Thursday sent a letter to the Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker, requesting an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on a recent news report that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers knowingly installed defective flood-control pumps in Louisiana drainage canals.

“According to press accounts based on internal memoranda and eye witness testimony, the Army Corps of Engineers installed defective flood control pumps around the levee system that protects the New Orleans Metropolitan region,” Sen. Landrieu wrote. “Reportedly, despite awareness within the Army Corps of Engineers about the mechanical problems of the pumps provided by Moving Water Industries (MWI), installation continued.”

In addition to calling for an investigation into whether the Corps installed pumps they knew to be defective, Sen. Landrieu requested that the GAO determine if the pump design and installation contracts were given for any reason other than merit.

“The investigation should examine the contract arrangements with the company in question and should determine whether or not any improprieties exist in the award or fulfillment of these contracts,” Sen. Landrieu wrote.

Sen. Landrieu also requested that the investigation be completed within 60 days.

Earlier Thursday, Sen. Landrieu sought a full explanation on the issue from Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works John Woodley and the Corps Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Carl Strock. At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing, Sen. Landrieu expressed her concern regarding the Corps’ budget, its projects in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Crops’ overall management.


Emphasis mine, hotlink to internal memo mine.
--From the

Now what is Landrieu alluding to regarding " any improprieties exist in the award or fulfillment of these contracts," ? Most likely that MWI has a documented history of improprieties in awards and fulfillment of government contracts. (Link to Saint Petersburg Times 2002 story) And who is DEEPLY connected to MWI? Jeb Bush.

St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida

U.S. fraud suit targets ex-partner of Jeb Bush

The Justice Department says a water pump company fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain $74-million in taxpayer-backed loans.

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2002

The Justice Department says a water pump company fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain $74-million in taxpayer-backed loans.

Gov. Jeb Bush's former business partner in a venture to sell water pumps abroad defrauded the U.S. government of more than $74-million, federal authorities contend in a lawsuit.

The Justice Department alleges that MWI Corp. of Deerfield Beach, a water pump company whose equipment Bush marketed to foreign countries, fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain U.S. taxpayer-backed loans during his father's administration.

Much of the loan money went for secret payoffs to Nigerian officials and equipment that was vastly overpriced and unneeded, the lawsuit says.

The company denies the allegations, many of which surfaced four years ago when a former MWI employee sued the company.

Bush, campaigning for governor at the time, shrugged off questions about the deal as little more than complaints from a disgruntled former staffer.

Now the Justice Department is making many of the same charges.

The pump deals occurred years before Bush became governor, and the lawsuit neither mentions him by name nor accuses him of wrongdoing.

But it suggests MWI used its political influence in the Republican Party to win the U.S. loans, and notes that MWI president J. David Eller went into business with "a member of a prominent national political family in an attempt to bolster MWI's sales abroad."

That's a reference to Jeb Bush.

In 1989, Eller, a major Republican contributor, formed a company with Bush, Bush-El, to market MWI's industrial water pumps abroad. Bush has described Eller as a "person of integrity."

Twice while his father was in the White House, Bush visited Nigeria as a water pump representative. He visited Nigerian dignitaries and was showered with attention, including a parade for him in 1989 with 1,300 horses.

Jeb Bush sold his share in Bush-El in 1994, and has said he earned about $648,000 from the company. [Spocko note: Compared to Cheney he's a piker! Where are the Whitewater screamers demanding we looking this deal?]

He has insisted that he received no money on the Nigerian deals, saying he took no commissions on sales backed by U.S. loans to avoid a potential conflict of interest. He said his earnings came from his work in other countries, including Mexico, Indonesia and Malaysia, but in 1998 declined to detail that work.

"You either trust me or you don't," he told the Miami Herald in 1998.

Emphasis mine.
[Snip] read the rest at the St Petersburg Times, including the methods and MWIs response.

According to the AP this Nigerian case hasn't been resolved. But you know something I noticed? Look at how people tiptoe around Jeb Bush's connection to this. Now why is that? Because if you EVER bring up a SPECIFIC and documented connection of wrong doings and the Bushes you get howls of "partisian attacks!" and "Politically motivated attacks!" by the right-wing enablers in the media.

But this tiptoeing around Jeb Bush's involvement ALREADY IS a partisan activity.
They have convinced the media, and maybe the DOJ, that you can't come out and SAY JEB BUSH IS CONNECTED TO MWI, even when their is documented proof.

They say, "Follow the money." they also say "connect the dots", I'd like to add, "pay attention to the people ".

[edited to add Spocko note and fix spelling errors]

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How do insider Journalists cover stories?

I of course assume everyone reads Hullabaloo by Digby, Tristero, and poputonian, but it is always good to point out a few posts that resonate: This one on conventions of modern journalism:

One of the silliest conventions of modern journalism is that the press can't tell a story if "the other side" isn't screaming about it. Republicans are always screaming (and often are the ones feeding the scandal to the press in the first place) so it's very easy to find that hook. Democrats don't have the institutional infrastructure to successfully manufacture scandals and are often slow off the mark in seeing real ones, so the press doesn't feel they have any reason to pursue them. (And I guess stories about crass political patronage, even in the justice department, just aren't considered news anymore. That's a sad comment all by itself.)

In the case of the US Attorney purge, it was left to the victim to be brave enough to come forward before the mainstream press saw a story --- and likely it was mostly because the man who did it was an evangelical Christian and a Republican that made them take notice.

The problem here is that many in the press seem to see their role as some sort of referee and conduit for the two parties instead of independent fact finders and purveyors of truth.

And also check out a post that has stayed with me for weeks.
The Incompetence Dodge

Digby should really get a Pulitzer for the consistent brilliant insight and excellent writing. What's that phrase that Mike Meyer's used, "We're not worthy!" As BBB always says, "Just go read Digby" (BBB is the new nickname for Atrios, which is in response to calling Kos "The Great Orange Satan". Just so you know.)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

"Drive by media" is what Rush calls 'em

What does he mean when he says "Drive by media"?

What is Rush saying with that phrase? Simple: the media are criminals. They will shoot you and run away. They are killers and cowards and they are to be caught and prosecuted.

Also, who are the typical drive-by shooters in our current world? Are they 1930's white gangsters? No. When you answer that question you see yet another Rush Limbaugh bias come out. 15 million Rush listeners are now calling people (including excellent journalists like Dana Priest) the "drive by media". Are they really criminals, cowards and murderers who shoot people with automatic machine guns and drive away? No. But that is the association Rush wants people to have.

When you look at how the right looks at and works with the MSM and the left does, you can see a difference.

They want them hanged, we want them to do their jobs. They view them as the enemy and use analogies of killers and thugs to describe them.

The role of journalist is important. Dana Priest, who is one of my new favorites, was quickly attacked by talk radio. Think about what she (and the Salon editors two years before) did on that Walter Reed story. That is important work that will help make changes that will positively impact a lot of lives. (It also negatively impacted a few, but sadly, not the people who continued to let it happen while they were saying, "We support our troops!")

But as Jane Hamsher mentioned, the right wing half wits like to attack the media especially when they are picking on their authoritarian Daddy.

Note: Update for minor spelling edit by Interrobang.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spocko to Disney: You Never Call. You Never Write.

March 4, 2007

It's been 39 days since my attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Matt Zimmerman, sent the lawyer for Disney owned ABC Radio station KSFO a letter demanding they retract their legally baseless threats that lead to my blog being shut down.

I just checked with Matt and he hasn't gotten a letter, email, phone call or even an instant message from them. In case they misplaced it, all his info is in the letter he sent them on January 25, 2007.

If you are just joining us, Matt requested ABC/Disney retract their threats immediately. Now I'm not a lawyer, but on this planet my understanding is that "immediately" is usually sooner than 39 days. Now maybe they are planning on traveling back in time to address Matt's letter immediately which will causing this time line to be nullified. I don't recommend time travel, I've had some bad experiences with it, but that's me.

When ABC/Disney sent their Cease and Desist letter to 1&1 Hosting demanding I "remove the content immediately" (right before the Christmas holiday I might add) they gave 1&1 Hosting 10 days to get me to comply. In turn 1&1 gave me 24 hours to remove the material. I immediately complied with the request from 1&1. And I did it within 6 hours (compare my understanding of " immediate" to theirs). I'd show everyone the proof, but alas I can't access my 1&1 logs to prove it because it's still shut down.

Their intimidation tactics worked on 1&1 Hosting, one of the largest hosting companies in the world. It appeared 1&1 didn't bother to check that I removed everything in time and just shut down my entire blog, words and all. Although my new blog host, Computer Tyme Hosting, is smaller my understanding is that a C&D letter sent to them regarding my posting of audio clips from KSFO will get ABC/Disney a very different response.

But I still don't understand why ABC/Disney hasn't responded to the letter from the EFF.

I thought they clearly pointed out that my use of KSFO's audio clips qualifies as noninfringing fair use. I would expect them to at least acknowledge that the EFF proved the case.

I think that it was rather rude of them to ignore the letter.

It can be inferred from their silence that even they agree that my use of KSFO's audio clips qualifies as noninfringing fair use. The hosts of KSFO objected that the clips were too short and didn't have enough context (even though we have demonstrated here and here that more context doesn't exculpate them, but actually reveals more of their depravity. But since they want more context, I'll just post longer clips. However, unlike some people I won't put up the ENTIRE show.

BTW, did you know that Melanie Morgan is rebroadcasting the entire three hour January 12, 2007 show on her website? Did ABC Radio authorize that? Did the Disney boss of ABC Radio? Was Morgan acting as an ABC or Disney employee when she posted that? Was she acting as Melanie Morgan, the chairwoman of Move America Forward or Melanie Morgan an individual who is hosting San Francisco Radio Assets' content on her personal website?

It says on her website where the content is hosted: Copyright © 2006 Melanie Morgan. All Rights Reserved. Is she an individual infringing on ABC or Disney's copyright? Will she be getting a C&D letter from ABC or Disney?

What's the Hold Up? Everyone Must be Briefed by Now
I know that big corporations move slowly, but given the impact this story had on the Disney brand I would think that they would treat the EFF letter with a little more urgency.

I know that the people in charge of the Disney brand probably ignore the blogs who wrote about this even the big ones like DailyKos with 500,000 readers a day.
But maybe they caught the story in:

It was even on TV! (For the millions who get their news from TV, check out the Crooks and Liars Link since the CBS video is gone now.)

Even if the brand managers didn't read or watch ANY of those stories, I'm fairly confident that lots of ABC/Disney executives made sure that they listened into the VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM that KSFO held on January 12, 2007. Why? Because that was the show where they kicked Dr. Laura off the air for three hours trying to convince advertisers that what the advertisers heard wasn't really what they heard (by the way, I wonder which division will be charged for that little stunt. Does Dr. Laura get paid syndication fees if she wasn't broadcast? Who pays her? Does ABC Radio legal cover it? Disney PR? Disney HR? ABC Sales? Probably an accounting nightmare.)

Maybe ABC/Disney didn't respond because they think we are unserious people who use pseudonyms (something no RADIO person cough* Officer Vic * cough ever uses). I will point out that Mr. Zimmerman gave them very specific, serious contact information. Still, they ignored his letter.

Maybe they didn't respond because they wanted to just keep the threat hanging out there.
And they continue to let the people at KSFO look for methods to stifle and/or smear their critics. But pretending that they didn't get the letter doesn't really give the Disney executives plausible deniability in the public eye.

Why is the continued clear awareness about what is going on at KSFO--by multiple executives from ABC and Disney-- important? Because when the next atrocity is spewed by Rodgers, Morgan, Sussman or "Officer Vic" they can not say, "We had NO idea those kind of things were being said on a Disney station!" Multiple executives from ABC and Disney knew what was going on at KSFO months before that 1/12/2007 show. I'm fairly confident that many listened in that day (or they can still listen to the whole three hour rebroadcast on Melanie Morgan's personal website.) There really is no excuse for anyone's lack of awareness at this point. And that should mean a real responsibility on their part to ensure that hosts stay within their corporate guidelines. Have the hosts conducted themselves as professionals on a commercially-supported broadcast radio network that was granted a license by the public via the FCC?

But Didn't KSFO Hosts Already Address All the Issues Raised by "Crackpots with Keyboards"?

Some violent rhetoric was NEVER addressed on their Very Special Program (did they cherry pick which clips to address? You bet.) Other comments were even embraced. When some of those comments become relevant yet again (say for example because of current news items) will management continue to accept the word games and bluster of the hosts?

Lee Rodgers Strikes Back, at KSFO's Own Advertisers!

Did you read in MediaNewsDaily about how Lee Rodgers threatened to boycott the KSFO advertisers who left? Wow. Attacking their own previous sponsors. I'm sure their competitors would really be happy to inform sponsors how they will be treated if they dare choose to leave. As my friend over at Backseatdriving said:

Tomorrow’s threatened former advertiser is a potential advertiser today, deciding whether they want to buy air time. Rogers is saying to them that starting ads on KSFO carries a downside risk the buyer won’t find anywhere else: if you ever stop advertising for any reason, Rogers or his fans may try to harm your company’s brand and image.

I thought that actively damaging a former advertiser's brand and image was just more bizarre, un-profitable blather from Rodgers, but then I heard something from on KSFO that convinced me that hosts from KSFO WILL attack former advertisers!

I'll be posting that in the next week or so (which, by the way is NOT immediately, just in case you wondered what MY definition of immediately was.)


Mr. Spocko

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

On Civility and Blogging

In reading posts about me (because I really am that self obsessed) I came across David Allen at His writing and the writing of his colleagues such as Pamela Troy are very rich and thoughtful. Their analysis is typically deeper and more thought provoking (there's that word again!) than most and I highly recommend you check them out.

Most recently David took on the topic of Civility and Blogging, specifically regarding the bloggers hired to help on the John Edwards presidential campaign. Warning, the link to the article contains vulgar language (for those who are pearl clutchers or are legitimately or seriously offended by such language). I'm considering my own post on the topic, but here is part of his post first.

What did these women do that was so offensive? They spoke the truth about some of the most vile individuals on the Right. Then those very same individuals clutched their pearls and got the vapors because these women used "vulgar" language expressed and themselves in a blunt fashion that these self-anointed guardians of civility deemed "uncivil".

As my friend Lex said, "Civility is the last refuge for the bully whose victim has started to fight back."

Civility is fine if everyone is going to play by the rules. But the rules were tossed out years ago. And there is a word for politicians who insist on being civil while their opponent uses every filthy, scummy trick in the book to win; and that word is LOSER.

Since I've been tied to talk radio and blogging I want to point out the DIFFERENCE in the venues and the various rules that apply or don't apply. One of us is in a regulated medium with obscenity and indecency rules not only at the FCC level but at the company and sponsor level. Hint, it's not bloggers.

But I understand the underlying point of all the pearl clutching. They are using it because it works, that they are hypocrites about it doesn't faze them. That they can drive the conversation in the media to where they want it is the goal. Instead of talking about two America's and the tremendous economic insecurity in the middle class and future impact of a massive deficit, we spent four days talking about "civility". Score one for the pearl clutchers.

We need to understand that there are multiple layers and players in this game, and that one of their goals is derailing the important painful topics with ginned up "controversy".

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jamison Foser Explains it All to You

An EXCELLENT recap and analysis of this week's news stories by Jamison Foser of Media Matters. The whole article is excellent, but I especially liked the second section: The media's blogger double standard. Did I say how excellent it is? No? Well it really is excellent.

I'm also waiting for Eric Boehlert's analysis next week on the radio, blog and main stream media's assault on Nancy Pelosi under the Clinton rules of journalmalism.

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