Thursday, March 13, 2008

With Clinton, Democrats Would Be Nominating a Closeted Republican!

EXPOSED! Former First Lady's Lines of Attack on Democratic Front-Runner Are Coming Directly From the Republican National Committee's Campaign Playbook; Ex-Veep Nominee Ferraro's Racially-Charged Attack on Obama Is Revealed to be an Almost Word-for-Word Repeat of Her 1988 Blast at Jesse Jackson

Presidential candidates U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) ...

Presidential candidates (left to right) Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama John McCain meet onstage between back-to-back Republican and Democratic debates at Saint Anselem's College in Manchester, New Hampshire in January. While McCain has wrapped up the GOP nomination, the battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nod is becoming bitter -- and increasingly racially-charged. But now, it turns out that Clinton is a closet Republican: The former first lady is employing lines of attack against Obama that are coming directly from the Republican National Committee. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

By Skeeter Sanders

As the battle between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination becomes increasingly bitter and racially-charged, the New York senator is employing lines of attack against the Illinois senator that are coming directly from the campaign playbook of the Republican National Committee.

Her campaign's tactics have infuriated Obama's supporters, especially African American voters, to the point that they've turned their backs on the former first lady in droves at the ballot box -- a rebellion that has Democratic leaders deeply worried for their party's chances of recapturing the White House in November.

Meanwhile, controversial comments against Obama by 1984 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro -- for which she defiantly refuses to apologize -- have been revealed to be an almost word-for-word repeat of a similarly racially-charged remark the former New York congresswoman made in 1988 against another African-American presidential candidate: Jesse Jackson.

Obama Wins Mississippi Primary By a Landslide

The new controversies come just days after Obama swept to a landslide victory over Clinton in Tuesday's Mississippi primary, with 61 percent of the vote, compared with Clinton's 37 percent. The Illinois senator captured 17 of Mississippi's 33 pledged delegates up for grabs, which will be allocated proportionally.

But in a Deep South state that perhaps is the most racially polarized in the nation, Mississippi's Democratic voters were sharply divided among racial lines, exit polls indicated. As has been the case in many other primary states, Obama won overwhelming support from African-American voters. They went for him over Clinton 91-9 percent.

The Magnolia State has a larger proportion of African-Americans (36 percent, according to the 2000 census) than any other state in the country. And black voters make up nearly 70 percent of the state's registered Democrats.

But as in other states across the Deep South, Mississippi white voters overwhelmingly backed the New York senator, supporting her over Obama 72 percent to 21 percent, with only young white voters under 30 going for Obama.

Clinton's 'Kitchen Sink' Strategy Against Obama Has GOP's Fingerprints All Over It

According to The Hill, the Washington-based newspaper that covers Congress, the former first lady has employed talking points against Obama developed by the RNC over the past year, while the Republicans, in turn, are using lines of attack developed by the Clinton campaign to "soften up" Obama for a possible general-election match-up against GOP nominee-elect John McCain.

Not to be outdone, Obama has also borrowed a page from the GOP playbook against Clinton, raising implicit questions about her ethics. Obama’s campaign manager accused Clinton in January of being willing “to do or say anything to win an election,” repeating a similar statement by Republican national chairman Mike Duncan.

But it's Clinton who's taken the more negative approach, according to The Hill, and is freely tapping the GOP's opposition research department -- much to the satisfaction of Republican officials who have battled her for years.

“There appears to be bipartisan agreement that Barack Obama is not prepared to be commander in chief,” Danny Diaz, the Republican National Committee’s communications director, told the newspaper.

Clinton's GOP-Written Attack Lines Date Back to November

As her poll numbers began to fall behind Obama's in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Clinton tore a page out of the Republicans' opposition-research book in November by ridiculing Obama’s claim that the four years in which he lived as a child in Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- gave him a unique perspective on U.S. foreign policy -- particularly toward the Islamic world.

(Obama's remark may be what triggered a smear campaign against the Illinois senator, which falsely accused him of being a Muslim himself and of having ties to Islamic extremists. Obama is, in fact a Christian; a member of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, although some of his paternal relatives in Kenya are Muslims).

Clinton's attack on Obama's assertion bore such a striking resemblance to a memorandum issued by the Republican National Committee that NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell, covering the Clinton campaign, remarked that Clinton had “mimicked the latest Republican attack line.”

During a February debate in Los Angeles, Clinton accused Obama of being a "do-nothing" chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations European Affairs subcommittee. It now turns out that this particular line of attack came directly from a GOP research memorandum issued in January that noted that Obama “held zero hearings as chairman of the Subcommittee on European Affairs.”

Clinton and the Republicans have also sounded remarkably similar critiques of Obama for not commenting on the Iraq war -- which the Illinois senator has said for months on the campaign trail that he has opposed from the start -- until nearly a year after he was sworn in to his Senate seat. The GOP blasted Obama on this a year ago, with the Clinton campaign picking up the baton just this week.

And in May of last year, the GOP sharply criticized Obama for the number of times he voted “present” to avoid casting controversial votes in the Illinois state Senate. Clinton began pressing that attack line in January and has been using it frequently ever since.

Defiant Ferraro Refuses to Apologize -- And Fires New Volley at Obama

The increasingly bitter battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination took a potentially dangerous turn this week when Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, in an interview with a suburban Los Angeles-area newspaper, remarked that Obama "would not be where he is" if he were white.

Ferraro, an outspoken advocate for women's rights and a staunch supporter of Clinton, told the Daily Breeze of the Los Angeles-area suburb of Torrance, California that, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman [of any color], he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Ferraro's comment, published last Friday, was almost instantly picked up by political bloggers and cable news shows across the country. The Obama campaign held a conference call on Monday to denounce the remark, and Obama surrogates urged Clinton to repudiate it.

But in a series of follow-up media interviews Wednesday, Ferraro fiercely defended her remarks and defiantly refused to apologize, telling the Daily Breeze, "Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up."

Racism, Ferraro said, " works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

In an interview with The New York Times, Ferraro insisted, "I will not be discriminated against because I'm white. If they think they're going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don't know me!"

Later Wednesday, Ferraro told Fox News Channel's Bill Hemmer that Obama should not attack her comments about his race because he needs her to raise money for him if he wins the Democratic Party nomination.

When told by Hemmer that people could make the same case that Clinton has benefited from being a woman just as Obama has benefited from being black, Ferraro shot back that being black is easier than being a woman when running for office, citing the late former New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's 1972 run for the White House as an example.

"Sexism is a bigger problem," Ferraro argued. "It's OK to be sexist in some people's minds. It's not OK to be racist."

Obama Blasts Ferraro's 'Divisive' Remarks

Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Obama told the Allentown Morning Call that Ferraro's remarks were divisive.

"I think that anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd," Obama told the newspaper. "I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign, they shouldn't have a place in Senator Clinton's."

Later in the day, Obama told reporters at a Chicago news conference that he thought Ferraro's remarks were "wrong-headed" and ridiculed "The notion that it is a great advantage to me to be an African American named Barack Obama and pursue the presidency"

It's not a view, he said, "that has been commonly shared by the general public."

Ferraro has held one fundraiser for Clinton. She said the Clinton campaign cannot fire her because she is not an adviser. "It's impossible [for the Clinton campaign] to fire somebody who's not involved with it," she said. Nonetheless, Ferraro notified Clinton by letter Wednesday that she would no longer serve on Clinton's finance committee as an honorary New York Leadership Council chair.

In a statement, Clinton distanced herself from Ferraro's initial remark. "I do not agree with that, and you know it's regrettable that any of our supporters on both sides say things that veer off into the personal," Clinton said. "We ought to keep this focused on the issues. That's what this campaign should be about."

Obama Isn't the First Black Candidate Ferraro's Insulted

It turns out, however, that this isn't the first time that Ferraro -- who, as former Vice President Walter Mondale's running mate, ended up buried in a 49-state landslide by Ronald Reagan -- has made racially-insensitive remarks about an African-American presidential candidate.

Ferraro, now 72 and a principal with a government lobbying and strategic communications firm, said virtually the same thing against the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mondale's chief rival for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination and who sought the party's top spot again four years later.

In a interview with The Washington Post published on April 15, 1988, Ferraro said that because of his "radical" views, "if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."

Asked by the Post for his reaction to Ferraro's remarks, Jackson responded with a remark that might sound eerily familiar to an Obama supporter 20 years later: "We campaigned across the South . . . without a single catcall or boo. It was not until we got North to New York that we began to hear this from [then-New York City Mayor Ed] Koch, President Reagan and then Mrs. Ferraro . . . . Some people are making hysteria while I'm making history."

Clinton Makes Extraordinary Apology at Black Publishers' Meeting

For her part, the New York senator, in an extraordinary act of contrition, struck several apologetic notes at a Wednesday evening forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of more than 200 African-American community newspapers across the country.

Her biggest apology came in response to a question about comments by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, after the South Carolina primary, which Obama won handily. The former president compared Obama's victory to those of Jackson when he ran for president in 1984 and 1988, a comment many black voters viewed as belittling Obama's success -- and drew scathing criticism of Clinton by this blogger on January 28.

"I want to put that in context. You know I am sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant in any way to be offensive," the former first lady said. "We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama."

"Anyone who has followed my husband's public life or my public life know very well where we have stood and what we have stood for and who we have stood with," she said, acknowledging that whoever wins the nomination will have to heal the wounds of a bruising, historic contest.

"Once one of us has the nomination there will be a great effort to unify the Democratic party and we will do so, because, remember I have a lot of supporters who have voted for me in very large numbers and I would expect them to support Senator Obama if he were the nominee," she said.

The Clintons have long enjoyed overwhelming support from black voters, but arguments over the role of race and gender have flared up repeatedly throughout the contest between Obama, who would be the nation's first black president, and Clinton, who would be its first female one.

Ferraro Familiar to New Yorkers as Having a Quick Temper

Ferraro is well known to New Yorkers as having a quick temper -- which showed during the 1984 campaign. Mondale -- who was booted out of office along with President Jimmy Carter four years earlier by Reagan -- was already far behind in his quest to unseat Reagan when Ferraro joined the ticket, and her credibility was quickly undermined by a controversy over disclosure of the tax returns of her husband, John Zaccaro, a New York real-estate agent.

In July 1984, Ferraro said she would release both her own and her husband's tax returns, in keeping with financial-disclosure laws. Yet a month later, she backtracked and said she would release only her own returns -- which tiggered questions about Zaccaro's finances.

Farraro, feeling the heat, backtracked again, saying her husband would release "a financial — a tax statement" on August 20. But she must not have consulted her husband, because Zaccaro initially refused, triggering a chorus of questions: Where is Zaccaro's money coming from? Rumors soon surfaced of alleged Zaccaro links to the Mob.

To Farraro's astonishment, news quickly surfaced that when she was a baby, both her parents had been under federal criminal indictment for gambling. The charges were dropped when her father, an Italian immigrant, died in 1943, when she was eight years old.

But the stories only added fuel to the rumors. Ferraro exploded, accusing the media of playing to old stereotypes of Italian-Americans. Nonetheless, the controversy led to an investigation of Zaccaro by the Manhattan district attorney.

Zaccaro was subsequently indicted by a grand jury on charges of scheming to fraudulently obtain financing for a multi-million-dollar real-estate deal. Zaccaro pleaded guilty.

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Volume III, Number 19
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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Monday, March 10, 2008

McCain's 'War on Pork' Comes Back to Bite Him Over Boeing's Loss of Air Tanker Deal

Angry Backers of American Planemaker Vow to Ensure Defeat of GOP Nominee-Elect in November After Losing $35 Billion Bid to European Rival to Build Refueling Tanker Planes for Air Force; Arizona Senator Had Kayoed Similar Boeing Deal in '04

President Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain met at the White House on Wednesday in Washington.
President Bush and Republican presidential nominee-elect John McCain are all smiles at the White House on Wednesday after the president formally endorsed the Arizona senator following his clinching of the GOP nomination in last week's primaries. But Bush's backing of McCain could prove be as much of a curse as a blessing. Already, McCain's being targeted for defeat in November, not only by Democrats, but also by an unlikely coalition of supporters of the Boeing Company -- including some Republicans -- for what they say was McCain's "greasing the wheels" for the Chicago-based aircraft maker's loss of a $35 billion contract to a European rival to build a new generation of refueling tankers for the Air Force. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

By Skeeter Sanders

President Bush's endorsement of John McCain last week could prove to be as much of a curse for the Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee-elect as a blessing.

While the president's endorsement could help McCain raise much-needed money and rally still-distrustful conservatives to his side, Bush's dismal job-approval ratings -- at this point the lowest since his father's at 32 percent, according to the latest Gallup Poll -- could effectively shackle McCain with a proverbial ball-and-chain that could cost him the November election.

Already, the Democratic National Committee -- in the opening salvo of its determined campaign to paint a McCain presidency as a third Bush term -- posted a video of the unpopular Bush's backing of McCain on its Web site.

But Democrats aren't the only ones targeting McCain for defeat in November.

Angry supporters of the Boeing Company -- including some Republicans -- are also determined to stop the GOP nominee-elect's bid for the White House over the Chicago-based aircraft maker's loss of a $35 billion contract to build a new generation of Air Force refueling tankers to the parent company of its European arch-rival, Airbus.

And some hard-line social conservatives, such as Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) and Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson, have vowed they won't support McCain under any circumstances because of McCain's refusal to back their call for the expulsion of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. and for a constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage.

Tancredo, one of McCain's rivals for the GOP nomination who is a fierce advocate for deporting all illegal immigrants, dropped out of the race in December and announced that he will not seek re-election to his House seat. Dobson, who vowed that he "cannot, and will not" vote for McCain "as a matter of conscience," reiterated last week that he will stay home rather than vote in the November election now that McCain is the nominee-elect.

Bipartisan Blasts at McCain for Killing Boeing Deal

The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) and its U.S. partner, Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman, won a competition with Boeing on February 29 to build the refueling planes in one of the biggest Pentagon contracts in decades. The unexpected decision has sparked outrage from union halls to the halls of Congress over the impact on U.S. jobs, prestige and national security.

EADS and Northrop insist, however, that about 60 percent of their tankers will be built in the U.S.

An unusual bipartisan coalition of Boeing supporters in Congress are directing their wrath at McCain for scuttling an earlier deal in 2004 that would have let Boeing build the next generation of Air Force refueling tankers. Boeing now will miss out on a deal that it says would have supported 44,000 new and existing jobs at the company and suppliers in 40 states.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), echoing the thoughts of many congressional Democrats, said the earlier tanker deal was "on course for Boeing" before McCain started railing against it. "I mean, the thought was that it would be a domestic supplier for it," Pelosi told reporters. "Senator McCain intervened, and now we have a situation where the contract . . .may be outsourced."

Members of Congress from the affected states -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- were even more scathing in their criticism of the Arizona senator.

"I hope the voters of this state remember what John McCain has done to them and their jobs," said Representative Norman Dicks (D-Washington), whose state would have been home to the tanker program and gained about 9,000 jobs.

"Having made sure that Iraq gets new schools, roads, bridges and dams that we deny America, now we are making sure that France gets the jobs that Americans used to have," said Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois). "We are sending the jobs overseas, all because John McCain demanded it."

Representative Dave Reichert (R-Washington) was just as furious. "John McCain will be the nominee and I will support him, but if McCain believes that Airbus or EADS is the company for our Air Force tanker program he's flat-out wrong — and I'll tell him that to his face," said Reichert.

Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas), whose district includes a Boeing plant that could have gained hundreds of new jobs from the tanker program, said McCain's role in killing the 2004 Boeing deal is likely to become an election issue. "I think we absolutely will hear more about it," Tiahrt said. "We'll hear it mostly from the Democrats and they have every right to be concerned."

Sure enough, both of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, have criticized the Air Force's decision.

McCain Insists Boeing Deal is 'Pork' -- and Rife With Corruption

For his part, McCain called the blasts against him over his role in killing the Boeing deal off-base, insisting that the deal was the kind of pork-barrel spending that he has opposed for years and has made a major plank in his presidential campaign -- and that the Boeing deal was particularly rife with corruption.

McCain has run ads touting his role in fighting "pork" such as the tanker project and cited the deal in a recent GOP debate. "I saved the taxpayers $6 billion in a bogus tanker deal," he said.

"[With] all due respect to the Washington delegation, they vigorously defended the process before — which turned out to be corrupt — which would have cost the taxpayers more than $6 billion and ended up with people in federal prison," he said. "I'm the one that fought against that ... for years and brought down a corrupt contract."

McCain scuttled the 2004 deal after revelations that a former Boeing executive improperly recruited an Air Force official while she was still overseeing contracts involving prospective Boeing deals. The former Air Force official, Darleen Druyun, and a top Boeing executive both served time in prison, and the scandal led to the departure of Boeing's chief executive and several top Air Force officials.

Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Boeing executives who broke the law were to blame for the demise of the tanker contract — not McCain. "This was theirs from day one," he said. "This idea that any lawmaker is to blame is a joke."

Nonetheless, McCain's opposition to the Boeing contract could hurt him with voters in Washington and other states affected by the tanker program, said Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University, who noted that Boeing would have performed much of the work in Everett, Washington and Wichita, Kansas, and used Pratt & Whitney engines built in Connecticut.

Significant work also was slated for Texas. "If he can be painted as somehow being associated with job losses ... it could hurt him on the margins," Donovan said.

But McCain's role in the tanker deal didn't bother Alabama politicians, including Republican Governor Bob Riley, who endorsed McCain three days after the Air Force contract was announced. The EADS-Northrop tanker, based on the Airbus A330, will be built in Mobile, Alabama, where it will produce 2,000 new jobs, and support 25,000 jobs at suppliers nationwide.

Can McCain Close His Huge Money Gap With the Democrats?

The day after clinching the GOP nomination last Tuesday with victories in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, McCain traveled to Washington to receive at the White House the endorsement of the man to whom he lost the nomination in a bitterly-fought contest eight years ago.

McCain stood stiffly in the Rose Garden as Bush hailed him for showing "incredible courage and strength of character and perseverance" during the GOP primary campaign. "A while back, I don't think many people would have thought that John McCain would be here as the nominee," Bush said.

McCain said he welcomes Bush's help, particularly with fundraising. Bush helped raise $66 million for the Republican National Committee and GOP candidates last year.

Money has been a serious challenge for McCain and for Republicans in general this election cycle. Through January, McCain had raised $54 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission -- a figure easily dwarfed by Obama and Clinton, who've raised $138 million and $135 million, respectively.

Last month alone, Obama raised $55 million, and Clinton $35 million. McCain, by contrast, was on track to raise only $12 million, about the same as in January, according to his campaign.

McCain recently retained Cincinnati businessman Mercer Reynolds as his national finance co-chairman. As Bush's money man in 2004, Reynolds helped raise a record $273 million -- a record that has since been matched by the combined coffers of Obama and Clinton -- by using "pioneers" who collected more than $100,000 in contributions and "rangers" who raised $200,000.

Bush's Backing of McCain May Do Him More Harm Than Good

Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Bush's stamp of approval helps McCain win over the 32 percent of Americans who continue to stand by the president. Bush remains popular with Republicans and conservatives -- 73 percent and 57 percent, respectively -- in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.

But Republicans make up only 27 percent of the general electorate, thus McCain must win the support of independents, who make up 32 percent of the voters. "McCain needs to solidify his Republican base and then add independents and Reagan Democrats to it," Norquist said. "He needs all of the 32 and a third of the 68."

McCain's biggest problem: Independents are leaning toward the Democrats by a nearly two-to-one margin, fueled mainly by concerns over the economy and by continued opposition to the war in Iraq. McCain's fierce support for Bush's troop "surge" and opposition to a withdrawal of U.S. troops is unlikely to sit well with voters fed up with the war and determined to bring it to a end as soon as possible.

And McCain has to be able to win over independents -- the majority of whom are moderates -- without alienating the GOP's conservative base, and vice-versa. That may not be possible, according to Stacie Paxton of the Democratic National Committee. "He's having to walk a tightrope" between conservatives and independents, said Paxton. "We'll be making it clear every step of the way whose side he's on."

And if, as now is widely feared, the economy goes south between now and the GOP convention in September, nothing McCain does in the fall campaign will get him elected. That's because of a cruel reality of American politics that dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s: That the party in control of the White House loses when the economy goes sour on its watch.

Recessions in 1952 and 1980 (the latter dooming Jimmy Carter's bid for re-election) cost the Democrats the White House, while similar downturns in 1976 and 1992 (the latter killing George H.W. Bush's hopes for a second term) proved costly to the Republicans.

Approaching 72, McCain's Age Is Also Likely to Become an Issue

His critics and allies alike worry that McCain, who will turn 72 in August and would become the oldest president in American history if elected, may not live long enough to finish his term, given the physical and psychological toll that the tremendous demands of the job places on a president.

But experts on aging have concluded that McCain should not only be fit enough to complete two four-year terms, he should also have at least five years left over for a comfortable retirement.

Despite his grueling personal history as a Vietnamese prisoner of war and later as a sufferer of skin cancer, McCain has “a very good chance for a very long life,” said Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and the author of numerous research papers on aging and mortality.

In an interview with The Sunday Times of London, Olshansky cautioned that it was impossible to make reliable predictions about individual lifespans. “You just can’t know for certain,” he said. “There are lots of people with long-lived parents and apparently healthy lifestyles who drop dead [at age] 40.”

Yet all the evidence from more than a century of U.S. population statistics indicates that McCain belongs to a group that has been dubbed “the alpha geezers.” More than a third of Americans now live past the age of 85 and many of them remain active well beyond retirement age. In fact, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population now are centengenarians -- people aged 100 and older.

On the other hand, since the dawn of the nuclear age, every U.S. president, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, has physically aged more rapidly while in office than they otherwise likely would. Ironically, the last president to die in office from natural causes was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died from a cerebral hemmorage in April 1945 -- three months before the first atomic bomb test explosion in New Mexico and four months before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II.

And longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who announced his third run for the White House two weeks ago, is even older than McCain. Nader turned 76 two days after announcing his candidacy on NBC's "Meet the Press." But because Nader, as an independent or third-party candidate, stands little chance of getting elected, his age isn't likely to be an issue.

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Volume III, Number 18
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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