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Kristol: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory? (Will Bush nominate a conservative?)
The Weekly Standard ^ | September 6, 2005 | William Kristol

Posted on 09/06/2005 4:14:43 PM PDT by RWR8189

WITH JOHN ROBERTS sailing toward confirmation last week, President Bush had the O'Connor seat "won." The Court was set to move one click to the right (so to speak). Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist died. The president chose to move Roberts over to fill the Rehnquist slot--thereby re-opening the vacancy created by Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement.

One understands the attraction of Roberts as chief. But with this action, in one fell swoop, the president deprived himself and his supporters of the easiest argument for his next nominee: that surely a reelected conservative president is entitled to replace a conservative justice--Rehnquist--with another conservative.

So now everything rides on Bush's nerve. Is he willing to fill the O'Connor seat with a conservative, and can he then make an effective case for that nominee to the Senate and the country? Bush will have three huge advantages in such an effort--a 55-seat GOP Senate majority, popular support for a more restrained and conservative Court, and a plethora of well-qualified conservative candidates (consider Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, Edith Jones, Priscilla Owen, Maura Corrigan, and Miguel Estrada, for starters). And there are in fact attractive arguments to be made for each of these candidates that go beyond the generic ones and that would make prospects for confirmation good.

So there is no good reason for Bush to flinch. But he could. He may be rattled by the criticism for mishandling hurricane Katrina, and he may think it would be better to avoid too big a fight over the Court. He's always wanted to nominate his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales--he likes him, is loyal to him, and would appreciate the symbolism of putting the first Hispanic on the court. So he might be sorely tempted to do so now.

Would any of his aides have the nerve to tell him that as Supreme Court jurists go, Gonzales would be mediocre--and not a solid bet to move the court in a constitutionalist direction? Would any of them have the nerve to explain to the president that a Gonzales nomination would utterly demoralize many of his supporters, who are sticking with him and his party, through troubles in Iraq and screw-ups with Katrina, precisely because they want a few important things out of a Bush presidency--and one of these is a more conservative court? Would any of them tell the president that risking a core item in the conservative agenda for the sake of either friendship, diversity, or short-term political spin, would be substantively wrong, and politically disastrous?

Maybe. And maybe Bush doesn't need all these reminders.

But even astute presidents occasionally make big mistakes. And one worrisome straw in the wind is the comment by Bush loyalist John Cornyn (R-Tex.) in today's Washington Post, who, according to the Post, thinks the nominee will likely be "a woman or a minority." Cornyn offered what the Post described as "a vigorous defense of Gonzales." "He would be a very good nominee and one that I would be happy to support," Cornyn said. "I've read about these concerns from some conservatives, and I really wonder where they are getting some of these strange ideas."

Yikes. One hopes Cornyn is just being polite to Gonzales and Bush. Or has he been asked to lay the groundwork for a Gonzales nomination? Did Cornyn talk with Karl Rove yesterday, between the Roberts announcement and his interview with the Post? If so, we conservative constitutionalists are in real trouble. More important, so is Bush.

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush43; bushsoldyouout; johnroberts; judicialnominees; kristol; oconnor; rehnquist; roberts; sandradayoconnor; scotus; sdo; stupidbotsurscrewed; williamrehnquist
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1 posted on 09/06/2005 4:14:45 PM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189

William Kristol and others always assume they know more than the man in charge.


2 posted on 09/06/2005 4:18:00 PM PDT by Loyal Buckeye
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To: RWR8189

Bill Krystol said it very eloquently re Gonzales:

"YIKES!!"


3 posted on 09/06/2005 4:19:24 PM PDT by FReethesheeples (Was the Narcissistic Joe Wilson a Source in "Outing" His Own Wife Valerie Plame as a "CIA Agent"?)
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To: RWR8189

Kristol really, really, wants to be "right" on Gonzales. I think he might be right if Stephens retires but not until/if then.


4 posted on 09/06/2005 4:19:24 PM PDT by WoodstockCat (General Honore: "The storm gets a vote... We're not stuck on stupid.")
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To: RWR8189

Exactly right.


5 posted on 09/06/2005 4:19:26 PM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (The repenting soul is the victorious soul)
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To: RWR8189

If its Gonzales..the pocket book and my families votes dissappear. I like most conservatives will self insure.


6 posted on 09/06/2005 4:19:31 PM PDT by samadams2000 (Pitchforks and Lanterns..with a smiley face!)
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To: RWR8189
I mean: Bill Kristol (corrected spelling: sic) said it very eloquently re Gonzales:

"YIKES!!"
7 posted on 09/06/2005 4:20:29 PM PDT by FReethesheeples (Was the Narcissistic Joe Wilson a Source in "Outing" His Own Wife Valerie Plame as a "CIA Agent"?)
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To: samadams2000

I dont want a latino muppet on the court.


8 posted on 09/06/2005 4:20:33 PM PDT by samadams2000 (Pitchforks and Lanterns..with a smiley face!)
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To: WoodstockCat

He was right on O'Connor retiring instead of Rehnquist...let's hope he's not right now...


9 posted on 09/06/2005 4:22:21 PM PDT by RWR8189 ( Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: samadams2000

What about Miguel Estrada?


10 posted on 09/06/2005 4:22:42 PM PDT by Echo Talon (http://echotalon.blogspot.com)
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To: Loyal Buckeye

Did I miss it when the Pope got company in the infallibility club?


11 posted on 09/06/2005 4:23:35 PM PDT by U.H. Conservative (http://unhyphenatedconservative.blogspot.com/)
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To: WoodstockCat
If Gonzales were about the 5th GWBush confirmed nominee he might THEN be right, ---- as long as the others were authentic conservatives, and if he were replacing Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Jean Paul Stevens, ---- as long as Justices Scalia and Thomas also still remained on the bench.....

One could wish...
12 posted on 09/06/2005 4:24:42 PM PDT by FReethesheeples (Was the Narcissistic Joe Wilson a Source in "Outing" His Own Wife Valerie Plame as a "CIA Agent"?)
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To: Echo Talon

I would be honored to have that real conservative latino on the court.


13 posted on 09/06/2005 4:24:55 PM PDT by samadams2000 (Pitchforks and Lanterns..with a smiley face!)
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To: everyone

I'm not personally a big fan of Bill Kristol, but he is a good political analyst. I'd take this editorial very seriously.

Bush always bears watching. Some people have too much faith in him. It certainly won't hurt to put pressure on him, if done properly.


14 posted on 09/06/2005 4:25:05 PM PDT by California Patriot
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To: FReethesheeples

I think conservatives need to focus more on changing the direction of the courts through the legislative branch. We didn't just win majorities in government so we can hope and pray we appoint conservative judges. I'm tired of asking the courts "mother, may I".


15 posted on 09/06/2005 4:26:12 PM PDT by neodad (Rule Number 1: Be Armed)
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To: samadams2000

I want Michael Luttig. :D


16 posted on 09/06/2005 4:27:16 PM PDT by Echo Talon (http://echotalon.blogspot.com)
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To: RWR8189

If Bush nominated someone like Roberts for the O'Connor slot once, why does Bill think that he wouldn't do it again? He can be so annoying at times.


17 posted on 09/06/2005 4:27:17 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: California Patriot

ditto. Its a shame that we must lose sleep over his decision making capability. The border, etc.??.It sometimes feels like the lost opportunity period of his father and even the last 3 years of Reagan...only..he's not Reagan so we have legitimate concerns.


18 posted on 09/06/2005 4:27:48 PM PDT by samadams2000 (Pitchforks and Lanterns..with a smiley face!)
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To: Echo Talon

He's my choice as well. Or Olsen.


19 posted on 09/06/2005 4:28:22 PM PDT by samadams2000 (Pitchforks and Lanterns..with a smiley face!)
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To: RWR8189
Kristol is correct that the short term political advantage lies with choosing someone acceptable to the left.

I personally think Bush will take the long view, and put up a fight for the person he thinks is most likely to move the court in the direction he wants. The Bushes may have some wierd relationship with the Clintons, but W is not Bill. My money is on Bush doing what he thinks is best, not what is easy or politically expedient.

20 posted on 09/06/2005 4:29:04 PM PDT by tjg (Being a liberal means never having to grow up.)
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To: California Patriot
Is [Bush] willing to fill the O'Connor seat with a conservative, and can he then make an effective case for that nominee to the Senate and the country?

Was Kristol overseas when Roberts was first nominated?

If Bush was prepared to nominate a conservative for the O'Connor seat then, there is no reason to believe he won't nominate a conservative now.

What a stupid question...

21 posted on 09/06/2005 4:30:00 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: California Patriot
I'm not personally a big fan of Bill Kristol, but he is a good political analyst.

He is good at what he does. And to err is human.

22 posted on 09/06/2005 4:31:04 PM PDT by Echo Talon (http://echotalon.blogspot.com)
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To: RWR8189

Kristol wouldn't know a real conservative if he/she kicked him in the ass. He was McLame's buddy as I recall. And his record of being wrong on things is immense. I trust Dubya a lot more than Kristol and other Weekly Standard lites.


23 posted on 09/06/2005 4:34:32 PM PDT by Cautor
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To: RWR8189

Billy Crystal is a more on the money political pundit than William Kristol. Bush seized the opportunity to grab the CJ and did it. Kristol is playing checkers Bush is playing chess.


24 posted on 09/06/2005 4:37:32 PM PDT by hflynn ( Soros wouldn't make any sense even if he spelled his name backwards)
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To: Cautor

"Kristol wouldn't know a real conservative if he/she kicked him in the ass."

He certainly isn't daddy's boy. Bill is out to make headlines and he doesn't care about ideology if he gets his name in the papers and his face on TV.

Just IMO, of course!


25 posted on 09/06/2005 4:38:32 PM PDT by Prost1 (New AG, Berger is still free, copped a plea! I still get my news from FR!)
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To: Echo Talon
Oh yeah, well....

If it isn't Edith Jones I'm taking my vote and going home!

26 posted on 09/06/2005 4:39:56 PM PDT by skimbell (Now in its 42nd year and still no Exit Strategy for the War on Poverty.)
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To: RWR8189

Not sure where all the hostility to Kristol is coming from...!! Anyway, what I am wondering about is whether Bush can nominate and get confirmed an O'Connor replacement (hopefully a conservative) in time for that person to participate in the partial-birth abortion and parental notification cases now on the Court's docket. Dems will be motivated to keep O'Connor on the Court as long as possible!!!! I think they will hold their fire and concentrate on the O'Connor replacement, particularly if that person is a true conservative.


27 posted on 09/06/2005 4:42:20 PM PDT by jkoenig
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To: skimbell
" If it isn't Edith Jones I'm taking my vote and going home!"

Janice Rogers Brown wouldn't be good enough for you?

28 posted on 09/06/2005 4:45:20 PM PDT by el_texicano (Liberals, Socialist, DemocRATS, all touchy, feely, mind numbed robots)
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To: RWR8189

"the president deprived himself and his supporters of the easiest argument for his next nominee: that surely a reelected conservative president is entitled to replace a conservative justice--Rehnquist--with another conservative."

There is no argument that will assuage the clamor of the left in selecting Supreme Court justices. What would be a huge mistake would be for Bush to acknowledge that a nominee has ANY political leaning, left or right, and that it is relevant to the nominee's confirmation. That reduces the process to a quid pro quo compromise that the Democrats would never observe with a Democratic president.


29 posted on 09/06/2005 4:45:38 PM PDT by Spok (Est omnis de civilitate.)
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To: Echo Talon

Amen


30 posted on 09/06/2005 4:49:56 PM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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To: RWR8189

Kristol is not in the President's inner circle.

No one that is speaking is in the President's inner circle.

Everyone was wrong about who he would pick last time.

Ergo, all people spreading these doomsday scenarios are nothing more than rumor mongers.

Kristol WAS the person to report on O'Connor's resignation, but O'Connor is a 'moderate". It is not a stretch to imagine kristol is well connected to the 'moderates' in D.C. If he reports on kennedy or Stevens leaving, I'd pay him attention. Otherwise, no.


31 posted on 09/06/2005 4:53:11 PM PDT by Soul Seeker (Barbour/Honore in '08)
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To: jkoenig

Bush can nominate someone to be on the Court in time. The question is Congress and rule of thumb is to expect disappointment from them.

Kristol is the mouthpiece of McCain. This is where hostility arises.


32 posted on 09/06/2005 4:54:38 PM PDT by Soul Seeker (Barbour/Honore in '08)
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To: Prost1
I think you hit it. Kristol owes his--very good--living to being a Beltway-buzz boy. Sitting in the green room is how he makes his green. Of course he has a huge ego and like all talking heads wants his views accepted by the Washington pols. Personally, I can barely stomach him.
33 posted on 09/06/2005 4:55:12 PM PDT by Cautor
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To: samadams2000

Isn't Ted 68?
Advantage to placing the youngerst possible man on the bench to consider.
What about James Rogan, previously rep from California?
Awesome conservative.


34 posted on 09/06/2005 4:58:37 PM PDT by oreolady (arrest blanko and druggie mayor nagin)
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To: el_texicano
Oh she'd be fine, but she's a bit to the right of Jones I think.

I would enjoy the confirmation of Brown though. The damn dims just about hyperventilate at the mention of Browns name, that would be fun.

Yeah, OK,

" If it isn't Edith Jones, or Janice Rogers Brown, I'm taking my vote and going home!"

35 posted on 09/06/2005 4:59:44 PM PDT by skimbell (Now in its 42nd year and still no Exit Strategy for the War on Poverty.)
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To: skimbell
Oops, of course that should be "to the left of Jones".
36 posted on 09/06/2005 5:01:06 PM PDT by skimbell (Now in its 42nd year and still no Exit Strategy for the War on Poverty.)
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To: samadams2000

I was thinking about Olsen as well. Truly. I think he deserves consideration for sure.


37 posted on 09/06/2005 5:20:36 PM PDT by cubreporter (I trust Rush. He has done more for our country than anyone can ever imagine. He is solid as a rock)
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To: Loyal Buckeye

In governing Bush has show all the political skill of a wet noodle.


38 posted on 09/06/2005 5:21:42 PM PDT by newzjunkey (Cindy Sheehan: "All You Are Saying Is Give APPEASEMENT A Chance!")
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To: Dog Gone
You *assume* Roberts is a conservative. That's up for debate.
39 posted on 09/06/2005 5:26:35 PM PDT by newzjunkey (Cindy Sheehan: "All You Are Saying Is Give APPEASEMENT A Chance!")
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To: samadams2000

Yeah, GW tried so hard to reach out to the other side, but then 911 - boom - he showed his oats. For years now, the Libs have been tring to tear him down - can you imagine what it must be like? - vilified every day by all major newspapers, TV networks, Hollywood, etc, ect. The temptation to appease must be overwhelming. I sure hope he understands, that we, the red states will take care of his legacy, if he will remain the conservative CEO for just two more years. He might outshine Reagan by 7 years to 5.


40 posted on 09/06/2005 5:27:13 PM PDT by TheHound (You would be paranoid too - if everyone was out to get you.)
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To: California Patriot
I'm not personally a big fan of Bill Kristol, but he is a good political analyst.

Yep, and besides it matches what I have been saying.

41 posted on 09/06/2005 5:29:19 PM PDT by Always Right
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To: Soul Seeker

Good post. I am often amazed at the disparate groups of people who misunderestimate the President. Nearly everyone does...over and over again.


42 posted on 09/06/2005 5:32:26 PM PDT by pollyannaish
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To: RWR8189
One understands the attraction of Roberts as chief. But with this action, in one fell swoop, the president deprived himself and his supporters of the easiest argument for his next nominee: that surely a reelected conservative president is entitled to replace a conservative justice--Rehnquist--with another conservative.

Precisely. And, if Bush doesn't name an originalist and conservative with a proven track that is pro-life, all political hell should be unleashed on the Republican party.

There is absolutely NO reason for anything but someone that verifiably has the views of Rehnquist, Scalia or Thomas to be nominated. If conservatives don't demand and get anything less, we're wasting our time supporting the Republican party and nothing is going to significantly ever going to change in this nation.

43 posted on 09/06/2005 5:34:27 PM PDT by Ol' Sparky
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To: newzjunkey

It's not up for debate with me.


44 posted on 09/06/2005 5:36:14 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: California Patriot
I'm not personally a big fan of Bill Kristol, but he is a good political analyst.

Yep. Per Kristol, we're entering the second term of the unbeatable President McCain....oops...guess that didn't happen.

45 posted on 09/06/2005 5:36:47 PM PDT by peyton randolph (Warning! It is illegal to fatwah a camel in all 50 states)
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To: okie01
If Bush was prepared to nominate a conservative for the O'Connor seat then, there is no reason to believe he won't nominate a conservative now.

Because Roberts is undeniably a brilliant legal mind and is well liked even by his adversaries. Roberts was a brilliant pick to replace O'Conner because he has a boy scout background and is untouchable by his opponents. I don't think there is another real conservative who could get the free ride that Roberts got. Bush may very well go with a conservative, but the fight will be as bloody as they come. If it were the Rehnquist replacement, it would have made it much easier. It seems silly, but it is a fact. Liberals have been setting up this arguement to maintain the balance on the court for years now.

46 posted on 09/06/2005 5:38:42 PM PDT by Always Right
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To: RWR8189
Regarding the appointments to the Court which the President is making this year, I have a question which is puzzling to me. Who is it really that we know is an adviser to GW on the Supreme Court nominations, AND whom we can count on to give him the message as to the importance of who to pick in directing the court to a constitutional [conservative or rightward] direction. For eg, if Luttig is the best choice available, who in the inner circle of the President, is likely to advise in this direction --even with regard to individuals or as to what the President should be trying to accomplish and how to do it? Is it Rove or Cheney? I don't really think of them as knowledgeable in the realm of judges. How did W arrive at Roberts? How can we hope that he will go further now and choose Luttig or Edith Jones? Who is the person behind the scenes?

I mean, GW appears to have a close personal relation with AG Gonzales, and it is obvious that the AG could not be counted on to counsel in the manner which we would believe appropriate. So, my question is, who is it that is close to the President and whom we can be counting upon to be making the case to the President?

47 posted on 09/06/2005 5:39:50 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: California Patriot

And some people don't have enough faith in him.


48 posted on 09/06/2005 5:41:16 PM PDT by altura
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To: samadams2000

Olsen, if I had a vote, which I don't.


49 posted on 09/06/2005 5:41:22 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Echo Talon
Regarding the appointments to the Court which the President is making this year, I have a question which is puzzling to me. Who is it really that we know is an adviser to GW on the Supreme Court nominations, AND whom we can count on to give him the message as to the importance of who to pick in directing the court to a constitutional [conservative or rightward] direction. For eg, if Luttig is the best choice available, who in the inner circle of the President, is likely to advise in this direction --even with regard to individuals or as to what the President should be trying to accomplish and how to do it? Is it Rove or Cheney? I don't really think of them as knowledgeable in the realm of judges. How did W arrive at Roberts? How can we hope that he will go further now and choose Luttig or Edith Jones? Who is the person behind the scenes?

I mean, GW appears to have a close personal relation with AG Gonzales, and it is obvious that the AG could not be counted on to counsel in the manner which we would believe appropriate. So, my question is, who is it that is close to the President and whom we can be counting upon to be making the case to the President?

50 posted on 09/06/2005 5:42:00 PM PDT by ontos-on
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