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Like Watching a Train Wreck
Special to FreeRepublic ^ | 24 February 2007 | John Armor (Congressman Billybob)

Posted on 02/23/2007 3:56:58 PM PST by Congressman Billybob

On Thursday morning, I turned on my satellite TV to surf 24-hour news programs, as I worked on the computer on various projects. To my horror, Fox News had gone to continuous coverage of the train wreck known as the Anna Nicole Smith body custody trial. As a lawyer, I watched a few minutes of it. It was horrible, but fascinatingly, it kept getting worse and worse as it went along.

It was like reading a truly dreadful book or watching a dreadful movie that you know is rotten. But you keep reading or watching to see if it can get even worse. And this one did.

I won’t comment on the legal aspects of this case. I agree with many other commentators who said the case should have been decided on an obvious point, in a hearing lasting perhaps 20 minutes, tops.

I have to make a few comments about Judge Larry Seidlin. I’ve dealt with hundreds of judges, at every level from District Court (lowest level “police” court in Baltimore) to the US Supreme Court. I’ve seen judges who were characters, or fancied themselves as comedians. But, I’ve never before seen the likes of Judge Seidlin.

Early in his career he was a cab driver in the Bronx. I conclude that you can take the cab driver out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the Bronx out of the cab driver.

A local, legal website in Broward County says that this judge is a victim of his own “inner comedian.” I can believe it. He rambled. He repeated himself. He talked at length arriving at no known point. There are people who have microphone syndrome. Confronted with a microphone, they fall in love with the sound of their own voices, and start talking interminably about essentially nothing.

Judge Seidlin also committed reversible errors by the bushel, in my opinion. Most of the testimony that he took in this case was inadmissible and irrelevant to the one real issue presented. The best analogy to how he “ran” his courtroom was a classic Superbowl commercial which began with cowboys ridin’ and whompin’. As the shot widened, you realized they were herding cats. The cats were running every which way and on top of each other, like the gaggle of lawyers in Seidlin’s courtroom.

But that wasn’t the half of what made this spectacle so awful.

Consider the judgments the editors at Fox News, and all other news agencies, made as they decided to go wall to wall (or nearly that) with that story. As Michelle said to me, this was driven by the fact that many/most men go gaga over blond hair and large boobs on a woman, even if neither the hair color nor the boobs are real.

Couple that with the fact that this unfortunate woman wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when she was sober – and when she was high on booze, drugs, whatever, she became as dumb as a hoe handle. The last pathetic aspect as that everyone in that courtroom was trying to stay on the financial gravy train created by Ms. Smith – never mind that she was now dead.

If anyone in that courtroom turns out to have been both honest and capable, I will cheerfully apologize to that exception to the rule.

Until then, I condemn the participants in this pathetic circus, and I condemn the American audiences who watched this empty farce. The “news” media are not in the business of providing the most important information in clear fashion. Their job is to “attract eyeballs.” The more people who are watching whatever drivel is on the screen, the more money advertisers will pay for their spots.

The dumbing down of what is called news started in 1977, when ABC News put Roone Arledge, then in charge of its Sports Division, in charge of its News Division. The network was, unfortunately, correct in its judgment. News is really entertainment, except with unpaid actors and unpaid scripts.

The continuing coverage of Anna Nicole Smith, never mind that she’d dead, is scraping the bottom of that particular barrel.

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About the Author: John Armor is a lawyer specializing in constitutional law, who may again be a candidate for Congress in the 11th District of North Carolina. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu

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TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: annanicolesmith; infotainment; judgeseidlin; roonearledge
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Kudos to the FR community for spending relatively little time on the Anna Nicole Smith train wreck. However, there are some bad cultural conclusions which can be drawn, sadly, from the media's obsession with this.

John / Billybob

1 posted on 02/23/2007 3:57:00 PM PST by Congressman Billybob
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To: Congressman Billybob

lol....I didn't even know this was going on.


2 posted on 02/23/2007 3:57:40 PM PST by Psycho_Bunny (I'm holding out hope that at least the DEMOCRATS might accidentally nominate a conservative.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Train wreck, plane crash, and LNG ship explosion.


3 posted on 02/23/2007 4:00:15 PM PST by xcamel (Press to Test, Release to Detonate)
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To: Congressman Billybob

The only stuff I know about the Smith case is from the Michael Savage show.


4 posted on 02/23/2007 4:00:17 PM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Congressman Billybob
Blonds and boobs bump
5 posted on 02/23/2007 4:02:10 PM PST by Enterprise (Drop pork bombs on the Islamofascist wankers. Praise the Lord and pass the hammunition.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Wow! Did Anna Nicole die?

Good post, John.

However, I must admit to a terribly guilt-laden fascination with the whole sordid circus. It was in my face. I had no choice. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.

And I still feel guilty about it.


6 posted on 02/23/2007 4:07:02 PM PST by Rushmore Rocks
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To: Congressman Billybob

In a real train wreck, the cars and pieces eventually come to a standstill. Not sure this one ever will.


7 posted on 02/23/2007 4:09:24 PM PST by Sender ("Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.")
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To: Congressman Billybob
dumb as a hoe handle

More appropriate than you realize. But I think you spelled hoe wrong. :)

8 posted on 02/23/2007 4:09:33 PM PST by T. P. Pole
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To: Congressman Billybob
Anna is dead?!?

Just kidding...

9 posted on 02/23/2007 4:13:29 PM PST by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Great commentary.

Even the internet had nonstop banner coverage on every news site I opened, except here at FR. Thank God for some normalcy. Her death, like her life was tragic. I hope for the best for her daughter.


10 posted on 02/23/2007 4:20:10 PM PST by SueRae
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To: Congressman Billybob

Did you miss seeing the Anna Nicole Smith thread here on FR? AT last count it had 12,000 plus posts and counting. Don't know what is today, but it looks as if it will make 15,000 easily.
And i'll admit I became interested in the proceedings once I saw the tape of Anna Nicole high on drugs with her face painted like a clown and Howard K Stern commenting that the tape would make a lot of money.


11 posted on 02/23/2007 4:22:21 PM PST by psjones (u)
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To: Congressman Billybob

After being fed the constant "trainwreck" that is the Democrat party control of Congress, Anna hoopla is probably less traumatic. ANS almost appears normal.


12 posted on 02/23/2007 4:24:11 PM PST by dforest (Liberals love crisis, create crisis and then dwell on them.)
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To: indylindy

Well, it's a diversion from all the political news, I'm so sick of hearing about Hillary and Pelosi as it is, that watching that judge was a nice change from watching the witches.


13 posted on 02/23/2007 4:27:58 PM PST by psjones (u)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Train wreck yes,

But how 'bout them THUMBS!

14 posted on 02/23/2007 4:31:34 PM PST by JOE6PAK (blithering intellectual.)
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To: psjones

I do agree. The election hype has started way too soon and we are already sick to death of it. I will worry about it a year from now. I am sick of Hillary, Obama, and all of them. I hardly watch the news lately.


15 posted on 02/23/2007 4:31:54 PM PST by dforest (Liberals love crisis, create crisis and then dwell on them.)
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To: indylindy

Yep, I haven't been watching much news lately either. I do still watch Brit, though.
Been putting that tivo we got back in November to some good use.


16 posted on 02/23/2007 4:46:57 PM PST by psjones (u)
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To: Congressman Billybob
I realized years ago that 'news' is a church full of pregnant girl scouts getting struck by lightning on the Fourth of July.
17 posted on 02/23/2007 4:53:57 PM PST by Grut
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To: Congressman Billybob
Good analysis, John....
Thx...
18 posted on 02/23/2007 5:04:16 PM PST by Wings-n-Wind (The answers remain availtble; Wisdom is obtained by asking all the right questions!)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Judge Napolitano told Bill O'Reilly that Judge Seidlin did NOTHING wrong and that he was perfectly normal!! OMG!! Fox is UNWATCHABLE!!

Jerry Doyle, a fairly decent talk show host was PRAISING the Judge!! I swear I live in a parellel universe.

19 posted on 02/23/2007 5:08:35 PM PST by Suzy Quzy
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To: Congressman Billybob
One of the stupidest, most beautiful(physical) persons to ever live. On the other hand - what a waste.

If I was the judge I would of had the body cremated and split it three ways with the parties.

The Judge is a clown and needs to find another career path.

20 posted on 02/23/2007 5:09:19 PM PST by mad_as_he$$ (So many geeks, so few circuses.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
One of the stupidest, most beautiful(physical) persons to ever live. On the other hand - what a waste.

If I was the judge I would of had the body cremated and split it three ways with the parties.

The Judge is a clown and needs to find another career path.

21 posted on 02/23/2007 5:09:19 PM PST by mad_as_he$$ (So many geeks, so few circuses.)
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To: Rushmore Rocks

Feel guilty and DIRTY.


22 posted on 02/23/2007 5:09:24 PM PST by Suzy Quzy
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To: Congressman Billybob

Frankly, I don't think any conclusions about our national "culture" can be drawn from this tacky media partnership with a legal system that has become a circus of the absurd.

We can, without doubt, draw conclusions that reflect very negatively on the entire media industry, and members of that other "industry" who falsely claim to be dedicated to law, truth and justice.


23 posted on 02/23/2007 5:09:35 PM PST by sarasmom ( War is not the most vile of the evils humanity commits . There is always apathy...)
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To: Congressman Billybob
"No one ever went broke underestimating the imtelligence of the American public." Was that Mencken who said that?

You nailed it, as usual. TN did not get my eyeballs, because I do not have cable. They do get my ears, sometimes - I get the audio in XM satellite.

But, most of the time, it is just pap.

btw, how's your freshman Democrat congresscritter doing over there?

24 posted on 02/23/2007 5:17:54 PM PST by don-o (Fight, fight. fight to drive the GOP to the right!!!!)
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To: Congressman Billybob

The case cannot be over yet!

We haven't seen the Paris Hilton/Anna Nicole video yet!
(You know it's out there...)


25 posted on 02/23/2007 5:35:25 PM PST by Vicomte13 (Et alors?)
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To: don-o
I searched that quote thoroughly. Although more than a hundred sources have it the way you quote it, from Mencken himself the quote refers to "underestimating the taste if the American people."

John / Billybob
26 posted on 02/23/2007 5:50:46 PM PST by Congressman Billybob (Please get involved: www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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To: Congressman Billybob

just a microcosm of life in America.


27 posted on 02/23/2007 5:52:50 PM PST by mrmargaritaville
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To: Congressman Billybob

I happened to see some of it when I started dinner early yesterday....

I could have enjoyed the insanity of it, especially when the lawyers started yelling at one another, except for the fact that a baby will reap the destruction that comes at the end of this train wreck.

That said, there's nothing like a good trial on tv to get a lot of hand sewing done, and good company from the tube... ;-)


28 posted on 02/23/2007 5:54:52 PM PST by pinz-n-needlez (Jack Bauer wears Tony Snow pajamas)
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To: pinz-n-needlez
That said, there's nothing like a good trial on tv to get a lot of hand sewing done, and good company from the tube... ;-)

Somehow, I'm getting the mental picture of Madame DeFarge, here.

< }B^)

29 posted on 02/23/2007 6:03:34 PM PST by Erasmus (Tautology: A circular argument with a radius of zero.)
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To: Erasmus

LOL As well you should, my specialty is knitting. ;-)


30 posted on 02/23/2007 6:05:37 PM PST by pinz-n-needlez (Jack Bauer wears Tony Snow pajamas)
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To: Grut; Congressman Billybob; wagglebee; KC_for_Freedom; the invisib1e hand; Melas; auboy; T Lady; ...
The “news” media are not in the business of providing the most important information in clear fashion. Their job is to “attract eyeballs.” The more people who are watching whatever drivel is on the screen, the more money advertisers will pay for their spots.
I have been musing over an exchange I had with a liberal, who on learning I wasn't in his fraternity said in a condescending way, "You probably thing journalism isn't objective." My response was laughter, to think that anyone would suppose they could put me on the defensive about journalism. In the event, I was dissatisfied with the way I approached discussing it after he said that laughter wasn't an argument.

And it occurred to me today that I should have apologized for laughing at his religion. That would have gotten his attention and made him interested in my challenge: if his belief in the objectivity of journalism were based on something other than faith, he would be able to show that journalism tells "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Since nobody even knows the whole truth, and nobody tells everything that they know, it's impossible to prove that journalism does not have a self-interested tendency.

And of course, as you say, it does have a self-interested tendency - journalism has the imperative to entertain. More generally, the one thing journalists want you to take away from their stories is that journalism is important. And although as you suggest, they want the audience to tune in to their particular show, it is noteworthy that journalists adhere to a go-along-and-get-along ethic - no journalist will criticize another journalist, and all journalists uphold the conceit that all journalists are objective. Which ultimately means that there is no substantive competition among journalists - that although we have many journalism outlets we actually have only one journalism.

And liberals hold that that one journalism is the font of all wisdom and the very embodiment of the public interest. Otherwise why accept that the rules for profitable journalism - "If it bleeds, it leads," "'Man Bites Dog' rather than 'Dog Bites Man,'" and "Always make your deadline" - ineluctably lead journalism to produce objectivity?

The dumbing down of what is called news started in 1977, when ABC News put Roone Arledge, then in charge of its Sports Division, in charge of its News Division. The network was, unfortunately, correct in its judgment. News is really entertainment, except with unpaid actors and unpaid scripts.

I realized years ago that 'news' is a church full of pregnant girl scouts getting struck by lightning on the Fourth of July.

I don't accept that journalism was more objective without the explicit recognition of its entertainment imperative. In fact, it would be far less tendentious if it was open and candid about its entertainment imperative. After all, that is exactly what the Rush Limbaugh show is - journalism which is candid about its political perspective and about its intention to be entertaining so as to attract a large audience and be able to "charge confiscatory advertising rates."

Why Broadcast Journalism is
Unnecessary and Illegitimate


31 posted on 02/23/2007 6:06:06 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Kudos to the FR community for spending relatively little time on the Anna Nicol Smith train wreck...

--------------------------------------

If only. There is a ANS thread with over 15,000 posts.

32 posted on 02/23/2007 6:28:06 PM PST by wtc911 (You can't get there from here)
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To: wtc911
I didn't search for it, and I am distressed to know, that there was an ANS thread with 15,000 posts. How sad.

John / Billybob
33 posted on 02/23/2007 6:47:31 PM PST by Congressman Billybob (Please get involved: www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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To: don-o
Shuler, the freshman Congressman, is as dumb as a post. When the incumbent, Charles Taylor, reformatted all of the hard drives on the computers in the office, before turning them over to Shuler's staff. But no one on Shuler's staff knew that files can be recovered even after a reformatting.

So, I let them know that was possible.

John / Billybob
34 posted on 02/23/2007 6:52:20 PM PST by Congressman Billybob (Please get involved: www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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To: Rushmore Rocks

Circus is right, RR. I watched about 10 minutes of this debacle today, and between the judge mugging to the camera, the greed virtually dripping from all present, and some strange blonde woman sobbing in the courtroom, all that was lacking to make the scene complete was a high-wire act and a tiny car with 15 clowns coming out of it...


35 posted on 02/23/2007 6:54:48 PM PST by Exeter (If Life gives you lemons, just shut up and eat the damn lemons!)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Are you familiar with "Amusing Ourselves to Death" ny Neil Postman? Wikipedia has a pretty good article on this great book.

link.

36 posted on 02/23/2007 6:55:19 PM PST by don-o (Fight, fight. fight to drive the GOP to the right!!!!)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Hmmmm. You got a mole in there? (You don't have to answer that.)


37 posted on 02/23/2007 6:56:40 PM PST by don-o (Fight, fight. fight to drive the GOP to the right!!!!)
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To: Congressman Billybob
John, You have to go a little easier on Judge Arthur Fonzarelli. Heeeeyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!

Nevermind that there is a double death, if not a double homocide, involved here. As we decide if we want to vacation in the Bahamas, keep Aruba in mind here. As long as Judge Fonz gets his tv show, I guess that all will be made legal in this mess.....

38 posted on 02/23/2007 7:12:54 PM PST by ErieGeno
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To: Congressman Billybob

Ever since ANS's death, I haven't been able to stomach any of the 24 hour news outlets. If they're not obsessing over ANS, they're obsessing over Britney Spears. I detest our celebrity culture.


39 posted on 02/23/2007 7:41:25 PM PST by randita
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To: Congressman Billybob

I've been casually following the case and wondering if anybody involved, with the possible exception of Dannielynn, isn't completely messed up.


40 posted on 02/23/2007 7:45:33 PM PST by RichInOC ("Out! Out!"--St. Dogbert)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


41 posted on 02/24/2007 3:08:33 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: Grut
I realized years ago that 'news' is a church full of pregnant girl scouts getting struck by lightning on the Fourth of July.

I should have mentioned that that was then; modern journalism just rewrites a police/Girl Scout/church press release about the event without checking to see if it happened.

42 posted on 02/24/2007 5:28:10 AM PST by Grut
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To: Congressman Billybob

Same thing, different era; Bread and Circuses


43 posted on 02/24/2007 5:54:54 AM PST by ops33 (Retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant)
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To: Congressman Billybob
I appreciate your perspective on this. I shied away from the ANS stuff (like I do on most nearly all sensational "news") but noted with my untrained eye the distinct lack of professionalism of the "judge".

I dig the "herding cats" reference too! ;'}
44 posted on 02/24/2007 2:38:57 PM PST by rockrr (Never argue with a man who buys ammo in bulk...)
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To: Congressman Billybob

My favorite references to the ANS story: one from a fellow on NPR whose name I did not catch, "A friend asked if I had been following the (ANC)story and I replied, "No, but it's been following me."; the other, someone commenting, tongue in cheek, I think, "We will never understand the Iraqis, their culture is so foreign to ours, if you will believe it, not a single native Iraqi has stepped up and claimed paternity of Anna Nichole Smith's baby.".


45 posted on 02/24/2007 3:03:39 PM PST by barkeep (Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc)
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To: Congressman Billybob
I regard this as desecration of the dead. There is an unseemliness to all this I find deeply offensive. Can't we just let the dead rest in peace? Apparently not when they have an outsized estate at stake.
46 posted on 02/24/2007 3:06:18 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Suzy Quzy
Judge Napolitano told Bill O'Reilly that Judge Seidlin did NOTHING wrong and that he was perfectly normal!!

Let me understand this? Seidlin took testimony until 3:45pm and at 4pm, after 15 minutes of deliberating in his chambers in which he had to read written closing arguments from all sides, presents a 21 page decree that he signs at 4pm????? And Nepolitano sees NOTHING wrong with that? And the high priced lawyers involved with this case see nothing wrong with that?

Bottom line, it is humanly impossible for an impartial judge to read documents, decide the case, and have a 21 page decision typed and ready to sign in a 15 minute period.

47 posted on 02/24/2007 7:08:14 PM PST by ErieGeno
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To: Congressman Billybob

It was bizarre, all those men crying, one of them even fainted didn't he? If any of them cared about her they would have a funeral for her.


48 posted on 02/24/2007 7:26:34 PM PST by Aquamarine (Without Victory there will be no Peace.)
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To: Exeter
Hello,

There is actually video of ANS in clown make-up, and it is one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen.

This entire situation is greed, greed of all those around this now dead woman and the greed of the press. I have not watched much, but good Lord, it is 24/7 on the news.

All I have to say to those involved:

Bury her before she is a puddle.

Find out who the father is.

Shut up, forever, then, someone (the father, maybe?) raise this poor little baby right.

MOgirl
49 posted on 02/24/2007 7:39:22 PM PST by MOgirl (Hillary: "I'm in and I'm in to win! Reality: "I'm in and I'm in to SPIN!!!!" She lied today.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
He rambled. He repeated himself. He talked at length arriving at no known point. There are people who have microphone syndrome. Confronted with a microphone, they fall in love with the sound of their own voices, and start talking interminably about essentially nothing.

Frankly, that sounds like some very intelligent but sadly dope-addled (cocaine, I think) people I've run across. Fried brains tell no coherent tales.

I note the main thread about Anna's death has more than FIFTEEN THOUSAND POSTS and a quarter million views. UNGH--I have yet to even visit it--and plan to continue to avoid it. A gentleman must draw the line somewhere. Boundaries, you know....
50 posted on 02/24/2007 9:40:15 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (Public Employees: Honor Your Oaths! Defend the Constitution from Enemies--Foreign and Domestic!)
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