Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 17, 2014

It must be the Mean Season on the Planet Teapublican – seemingly the only explanation for its followers in Congress insisting on continuing to deny benefits to the long term unemployed. Meanwhile, in an effort to repair the wreckage to the Voting Rights Act inflicted by the RobertsonScaliaThomasAlito cabal in the Supreme Court, Congress engaged in a bit of sleight of hand. And finally, while the celebratory skydive of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was covered in the news, Sarah Palin, the approximate cause of her discontent, got a free pass.

In the Land of Mean

Too many Americans know the stress and the shame and the pain of unemployment. The painful irony is that the longer that someone is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job. Indeed, some unenlightened employers refuse to even interview unemployed job applicants.

Over the last few years the federal government has extended benefits to the long term unemployed. It has certainly been a compassionate initiative and it has also been helpful to a hobbled national economy, provided direct infusions of cash to shops, stores and service providers each time those checks have gone out.

Now in step the Teapublican shock troops claiming that unemployment benefits, meager as they are, provide a disincentive for the unemployed to find a job. Heroic hypocrites like Congressman Paul Ryan – who grew up in a wealthy family that made its money as government contractors, used his father’s Social Security death benefits to attend college and who never had to look for a job in his life – claim that budget balancing is more important than saving the lives and self-respect of millions.

I am certain that Paul Ryan and his fellow Ayn Rand acolytes are good to their own children and family members. But it has been said that we measure the generosity of someone’s spirit in how they treat people that they do not know.

By that measure Paul Ryan and the Teapublicans come up short.

That Old Bad Magic

When observing events in Congress it is important to pay attention to the details. The seemingly laudable bi-partisan effort to repair the damage caused by the United State Supreme Court in virtually gutting the Voting Rights Act last year is a case in point.

The new legislation which seems to address many of the key elements of the Supreme Court’s attack on America, particularly black and Latino America, does not address the odious Photo I.D. legislation that is spreading across this country like some incurable cancer from KKK hell.

So we will read in the paper that Congress has passed a new Voting Right Act. Great news!

Race/racist driven Photo I.D. laws will still be the subject of trench warfare, state by state, county by county because Congress could not/would not act on this transparent strategy to suppress the voting power of people of color.

NOT great news!

Free Pass for Sarah Palin?

Last week most people of good will celebrated the fact that former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords celebrated her continued recovery from the Tucson Massacre by sky diving. Her recovery is an inspiring narrative and a tribute to the strength of her spirit and the support of her husband, family and friends.

But Sarah Palin, the Lady Macbeth in this story, was never mentioned in the news media. Somehow, only three years later, the mainstream media seems to have forgotten that it was on Sarah Palin’s website that a rifle scope was placed over then Congresswoman Gifford’s district – along with several others.

The fact that the man who shot Gabrielle Giffords in the head may not have been directly inspired by Sarah Palin’s cyber-obscenity does not diminish the fact that her overheated and gun-inspired rhetoric contributed to an atmosphere where violence entered into public and political discourse.

Sarah Palin should never get a free pass on this one.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Requiem for Sarah Palin

Last week it was announced that Fox News would not be renewing Sarah Palin’s contract with the network. Losing her position as a regular on television is just more evidence that the Ms. Palin’s star has lost whatever luster it ever had. But the departure of Sarah Palin is also further evidence that Fox News is just another entertainment network and not a serious source of news.

When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 he accomplished several things. First, he demonstrated an awesome disregard for the United States and its citizens by choosing a person who would almost certainly have been the most unqualified Vice President in recent history (although Dan Quayle would have to rank a close second). But John McCain also placed Sarah Palin in the spotlight and gave her a platform for her to advance her own personal career.

From the moment that she claimed that she could see Russia from her kitchen window it was clear that Sarah Palin was not a person to be taken seriously. Her capacity for mangling facts and the English language became the stuff of legend. And there is no doubt that her position on the Republican ticket helped Barack Obama become the 45th President of the United States.

But out of the ashes of defeat, Sarah Palin rose phoenix-like and became a star – a celebrity who was famous for being……………famous. That any group would pay $50,000 – $$100,000 to hear Sarah Palin speak speaks to the power of 21st century celebrity and to the fact that it really didn’t matter whether Sarah Palin had anything of importance to say. It was simply enough that she was a celebrity.

Clearly this was the calculus that Fox News employed in signing Sarah Palin to a $1 million per year contract three years ago. Sarah Palin has no known expertise on any subject except self-promotion. Certainly the occupants of the executive suite at Fox News knew that, but then Fox News is a news network in name only. It is, in fact, a reality show just like “American Idol”, “Real Housewives of Wherever” and “Celebrity Chefs”, except that this reality show takes place in a set made to look like it is part of a news network.

Fox News buys celebrities and doesn’t care whether there facts and truth are part of the script. The fact that it broadcasts opinions that slake the thirst of their parched right wing of the right wing viewers is not the point. What is the point is that rarely are those opinions even in the vicinity of facts and, in many instances untruths, distortions and outright lies are the menu du jour at Fox News.

Election Day 2012 was the final illustration that Fox News is not a news network. Even before the polls closed their cast of commentators did everything but sacrifice a fatted calf to support their hopes and prayers that the Muslim Kenyan communist fascist anti-Christ would be defeated. They defied facts, they ignored statistics and staked their hopes on their belief that somehow, someway, Mitt Romney would deliver them from four more years of Barack Hussein Obama.

Even when the Fox News statisticians and pollsters decisively proclaimed President Obama re-elected, their commentators refused to leave their state of denial. The only thing that they didn’t do was click their heels in the hope that they might return to Kansas.

It is for all these reasons and more that it seems unfair that Fox News in effect fired Sarah Palin. She has never pretended to be anything more than a headline seeking, spotlight searching promoter of the one cause in which she believes with all her heart – Sarah Palin. And in that regard she has not changed.

I can’t help but think that Sarah Palin’s decline accelerated when she got carried away with her “lock and load” rhetoric and then put a gun sight target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her own website – and then the Tucson Massacre happened. Many people have thought that Sarah Palin had blood on her hands after that and she never had planned to play the role of Lady Macbeth.

But clearly, as her popularity has declined, she no longer is an asset to Fox News. She used Fox News to promote her newfound celebrity, and Fox News used her to boost its ratings. Now Fox News has no more use for a fading star on her way to the land of miscellany and trivia. Soon she will be a Jeopardy answer, if she’s lucky.

Fox News has no more use for Sarah Palin and neither does this country.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 27, 2011

This week we watched what’s left of the reputation of Arnold Schwarzenegger go up in flames while the alleged sexual predator Dominique Strauss-Kahn made bail and is holed up in Tribeca. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential derby is in such disarray that Sarah Palin is feeling the fire in her well-fed belly. As the killing of Osama bin Laden fades with each succeeding news cycle hope grows that expecting change in America’s Afghanistan war strategy makes more sense than waiting for The Rapture. And finally, we should take a minute to consider what caused the presidential candidacy of Mitch Daniels to be strangled at birth.

She’s Baaack!

Reams have been written about the lack of quality candidates in the G.O.Tea Party corral. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Doubting Donald Trump, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour or former Arkansas governor (and Fox News star) Mike Huckabee were certainly correct in assessing their chances of beating Barack Obama as being between slim and you’ve got to be kidding.

Still, it is amazing that the renegades and rogues are taking over the G.O.Tea Party asylum. Congressman Ron Paul who proposed abolishing the Federal Reserve Bank and just about everything else is a leading candidate. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who doesn’t have the good sense to be quiet so people only think that she is ignorant, is also a leading candidate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is tied up in knots trying to explain his tawdry and hypocritical marital history while trying to be a “common man” with a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. And he is a leading candidate.

And now, the grisly grizzly mom herself, Sarah Palin, has announced that she has that “fire in her belly” and is seriously considering running for president. Perhaps she is hoping that the American people will not recall her spectacularly self-centered flame out after the Tucson Massacre. Or she may think that the current crop of candidates has set the bar so low that she can sashay into the field and carry the G.O.Tea Party banner in an electoral contest with President Obama.

President Obama should be so lucky.

Are We There Yet?

The death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to much discussion regarding the meaning and import of his departure from the global stage. A key item that has been raised relates to the expectation in some circles that bin Laden’s death gives the Obama Administration the perfect opportunity to reconfigure its Afghanistan strategy, flipping the script, so to speak.

After all, a cogent argument can be made that al Qaeda has been definitely, and probably fatally, decapitated. The causus belli for the American presence in Afghanistan was to wipe out the al Qaeda base of operations that plotted the 9/11 attack on the United States. That mission has been accomplished.

Billions of dollars are being spent in Afghanistan every week while police, teachers and hospital workers are furloughed in the United States. Over $100 billion dollars will be spent in Afghanistan this year while programs ranging from Planned Parenthood to Head Start are being cut or put “on the table” of Republican budget chopping frenzy.

The loss of treasure and loss of life is insupportable. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda is crippled. No American is safer in the United States because of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It is time.

Are we there yet?

The Tragedy of Mitch Daniels

Last week Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced that he would not be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. It will come as no surprise that I am not a great fan of Governor Daniels, yet I find the cause for his departure to be troubling and tragic.

News reports indicate that the reason for his presumptive departure from the race is that his marital history includes a story about him and his current wife divorcing and then remarrying 4 years later. In the interim Mrs. Daniels married another man and then divorced him to remarry Governor Daniels.

The fact that this entirely private and personal matter would have any impact on the presidential aspirations of anyone can be traced directly to the ravenous maw of the American press machine. Governor and Mrs. Daniels were quite correct in thinking that the media would focus on the marriage-divorce-remarriage story to the exclusion of anything else that Candidate Daniels might have to say.

Reporters and commentators would be frothing at the mouth while recounting every detail of this couple’s life together and apart. Not only is this wrong, the Daniels story is a teaching moment for anyone else who might seek public office.

Everyone has aspects of their private life that they would rather not be part of a CNN “Breaking News” story. And everyone has a right to that privacy, even candidates for public office.

There is not even a hint of illegal or even improper conduct associated with the Daniels’ story. It is just the story of a couple who are living their lives. And it is not the business of the press or the public to make these kinds of inquiries.

The departure of Mitch Daniels from the presidential race is a shameful commentary on the American press and the American public.

Finally, for the sake of all of us, Point of View has now been declared a Cornel-Free Zone.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Ball of Confusion

Even a non-partisan observer of the Republican efforts to find a challenger for the 2012 presidential election would be more than baffled at the clownish cavorting that has taken place during the past year. The entire process seems that it has been produced and directed by Barnum & Bailey.

The American public has been subjected to the spectacle of a so-called “Grizzly Mom” who used to be governor of Alaska acting as if she knew something about anything. That Sarah Palin, a person so obviously allergic to knowledge and a stranger to original thought could have ever been seriously considered as a presidential candidate is a stunning commentary on the poverty of the Republican field of potential candidates.

And then Ms. Palin went from “grizzly” to just plain grisly when she made her unfortunate and incredibly self-centered comments after the Tucson Massacre. Since then she has continued to happily pocket millions of dollars from television shows and speeches, but even the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts don’t take her as a serious contender.

Last weekend Mike Huckabee, the former 300 pound governor of Arkansas and unsuccessful presidential candidate in the 2008 cycle announced that he would not run for president in 2012. I have to presume that Mr. Huckabee thought that most of America was waiting with bated breath for his Decision 2011.

In point of fact his decision not to run may have been the most eloquent expression of his intelligence in recent memory. After all, this is the same Mike Huckabee who has stated repeatedly that he does not believe in evolution and believes that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs (seriously). This is also the same Mike Huckabee who carried the soiled and discredited banner of the now discredited racist birther zealots.

In the end, Mr. Huckabee clearly decided that he would rather continue to make millions of dollars as a part of the Fox News Empire. Certainly he can at least make money spreading lies and mistruths. It is pretty clear that it was never going to get him elected president.

At the beginning of this week Doubting Donald Trump announced that he is has made his “Decision” and he will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Doubting Donald’s announcement could not have been a surprise for anyone who watched him being barbecued and French fried at the White House Correspondents Dinner on the eve of the announcement by President Obama of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

It is presumed that he is still applying salve to his scorched and bruised ego as he scuttles back to his personal Trump World where he is still the center of the universe. He will not be scuttling for free, however, as it has also been announced that his faux reality show “The Apprentice” will be renewed for another season, bringing more unearned and undeserved dollars into the Trump coffers.

I have to wonder if and when the G.O.Tea Party adherents will recognize that they are being played in such an obvious and sleazy fashion. The most humble of hookers recognizes a pimp, what happened to the Republicans?

It is clear that Palin, Huckabee and Trump have all used and abused the platform that was provided to them by G.O.Tea Party stalwarts who believed that these individuals were providing some kind of answer to their call for an alternative to Barack Obama.

Palin, Huckabee and others have used this legitimate political interest to burnish their “brands” and make untold sums of money in the process.

I don’t believe for a minute that the recent announcement by Newt Gingrich (Newt Gingrich???) that he is running for president is legitimate. Newt Gingrich knows that he hasn’t had an original thought since his ill-fated Contract with America” almost two decades ago.

Newt knows that he is still tarred with the brush of responsibility when it comes to the shutdown of the federal government during his otherwise undistinguished tenure as Speaker of the House.

Newt also knows that the American public (especially American women) will not react favorably when they learn that he served divorce papers on his first (of three wives) wife as she was coming out of cancer surgery.

While most people are able to accept a dollop of hypocrisy with their political brew, it will be hard for Newt to explain how he could seek to impeach President Bill Clinton for his indiscretions at the exact same time that he was having an extramarital affair with one of his staff members.

What Newt also knows is that in building a “brand” it only matters that his name is spelled right. Newt will, at some point in the next 6-8 months withdraw as a candidate and go on to reap more revenues from his impressive array of corporate entities.

And the G.O.Tea Party will have been pimped again.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 16, 2011

The weekend begins with an affirmative answer to the question of whether it the Japanese nuclear disaster can get any worse. Meanwhile, in America, the budget debate has morphed into a war on America, a “birther” bill drafted by lunatics has been passed by the Arizona state legislature and Donald Trump is working diligently to prove that not only is he a posturing, self-promoting clown, he is also a racially insensitive clown. Just another week in the United States of Crazy.

The Budget as Warfare

In the latest episode of “The Perils of Pauline Come to Washington” the G.O.Tea Party and its Republican puppets threatened to shut down the federal government closing national parks, withholding paychecks from the families of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and generally throwing the entire country into the churning maw of chaos.

This Tea Party-made disaster was averted with a budget settlement that called for almost $40 billion in budget cuts and absolutely no increase in taxes for the beleaguered and oppressed billionaires and millionaires and mega-corporations of this country.

Some of the budget cuts included the evisceration of a high speed rail construction program that would have provided thousands of jobs and begun the process of bringing the American transportation system into the 21st century. Cuts were also made to the food inspection apparatus of this country which should give all of us comfort the next time there is a salmonella or E-Coli outbreak in this country.

The G.O.Tea Party is engaging in a guerilla war on the people of this country and it is about time that the truth be told. The budget debate is not about dollars and cents – it is about changing the priorities of federal government from its constitutional mandate “to promote the general welfare” to a frugal maintenance operation that will simply provide a platform for the wealthy to get richer and for the rest of the population to simply subsist.

There have been recent announcements about the improvement of the economy. It has improved, but this country is recovering from truly epic devastation – please go to a link from the Huffington Post to see visuals of what foreclosures, unemployment and the gutting of state and local budgets has wrought – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/13/americas-foreclosure-ghost-towns_n_848715.html?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-n%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%7C209993#s264057&title=Northern_California .

It is past time for the people who presume to lead and govern to realize that there is a new and pernicious civil war going on in this country and that it is time to fight – before it is too late.

Birthers Gone Wild!

The state of Arizona has an unemployment rate of 9.6% and the second highest foreclosure rate in the country. As demonstrated in the Tucson Massacre a few months ago, violent crime is a real problem in that state.

In response to these daunting challenges the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature decided to tackle the most pressing problem of all – requiring that presidential candidates prove that they are natural born citizens of the United States. This “birther” bill is, of course, the demented spawn of the Tea Party lunatics who refuse to believe that Barack Obama is the legitimate president and want to make damn sure that this travesty is never visited upon the American people again.

And all the while the unemployed remain unemployed, more people lose their homes. And more people lose hope. It is a disgrace.

The Clown Channel

In his continued commitment to self-promotion, it has been reported that Donald Trump is going to launch The Clown Channel, starring none other than Donald Trump. As he continues his fake dalliance with presidential ambition he has flogged the eternally dead horse of Barack Obama’s birth to the cheers of the G.O.Tea Party boobs. Only the Donald’s hairdresser knows for sure how this qualifies him to be the leader of this country.

And this past week, when asked what kind of support he could expect from the national African American electorate, he responded that he had “a good relationship with the blacks”. We can assume that his good relationship with “the blacks” stems from the fact that he speaks the language of “the blacks” and that he knows the ways of “the blacks”.

“Bwana Trump for President” should be the headline for next week.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 4, 2011

As the first week of the second month comes to an end we should remember that Egypt and Tunisia are in Africa. Also, do we still care that the Republicans took over Congress one month ago and can anybody spare $3 million for a Super Bowl ad?

Egypt and Tunisia – A Lesson in Geography

In a little more than a fortnight the oligarchy in Tunisia collapsed and the ones in Egypt, Yemen and Algeria are teetering. Most observers correctly point to these events as a precursor to further seismic changes in the Arab world, places like Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

But these same observers seem to have forgotten their sixth grade geography lessons.
While Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Yemen are identified as Arab countries they are most certainly African. Their importance as a part of the African Union cannot be overstated.

So it is a mystery why none of the contemporary commentary points to possible seismic changes in the rest of Africa where there is also no shortage of oligarchies, ruling elites and one-party faux democracies. In this transglobal 24/7 news world in which we live it would be ludicrous to think that young men and women in many of these countries aren’t wondering why the miracle of change cannot visit them as well.

The serial tragedies that have visited Africa have many roots and causes. But in the present day the causal connection between elite oligarchies and the burdens of poverty, instability and economic dysfunction are crystal clear.

There have been references made to the “domino effect” in the Arab world as a result of what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. Do not be surprised when some of those dominoes begin to fall in Africa.

Republican Countdown

Let’s see……..at the beginning of January 2011 the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives amid clarion calls for immediate and uplifting change. The G.O.Tea Party promised its supporters the red meat of defying President Obama and the potatoes of taking back this country.

It’s been a month now and what has happened? There was the grade school exercise of reading the Constitution out loud. The only real result was that the Americans that bothered to listen learned that the Constitution is not a series of commandments but it is a working document that was designed to be flexible.

Then there was the vote to repeal the recently passed health care reform legislation that the Republicans like to call “Obamacare”. Of course the vote passed in the House, went nowhere in the Senate and would never have made it past the promised presidential veto in any event.

The only other occurrences worthy of note were the dopey utterances of some Republicans to the effect that they would carry guns to town hall meetings in the aftermath of the Tucson Massacre.

Others have promised to shut down the federal government and evaporate the global financial standing of the United States as a serious strategy to accomplish their goals to restructure the federal budget.

In the meantime the educational system in this country is in need of immediate attention, unemployment continues to beleaguer too many Americans and there are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that demand attention and treasure.

The crises in Egypt and Tunisia and elsewhere point out the urgent need to re-examine this country’s foreign policy. And where is the Party of No on the great issues of the day?

Gone missing.

Can You Spare $3 Million?

As a fan of the New York Jets I have to grudgingly and sadly accept the fact that the Super Bowl will be held this coming Sunday without the Jets.

In accepting this sad reality I have also learned that Super Bowl ads will be costing advertisers $3 million per minute! What on earth could they have to say that was so important that it would be worth spending that much money?

Is there a new kind of taco that flies? The Jesus hates Obama ad was banned, perhaps there are sneakers that make you invisible?

I guess we will just have to find out on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 22, 2011

The aura of Chinese “Tiger Moms”, the hypocrisy of repealing healthcare and a Sarah Free February pledge, these are all part of this weekend’s Point of View.

“Tiger Moms” to the Rescue?

The January 8, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal contained the single most widely read article in the 100+ year history of the publication. The topic wasn’t chicanery in the banking system or an analysis of the global economy; it was “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”.

The article details a rigorous and fully disciplined approach to parenting that the author, Professor Amy Chua of Yale School, contends is responsible for the academic success of her children and millions of other Chinese children – both here in the United States and in China.

The ensuing hotly contested debate was predictable. The defenders of the “western” approach have launched a full throated protest against what they contend is a barbarous and abusive approach to raising children.

The supporters of the so-called “Tiger Moms” stress the statistical proof of the academic success of their progeny as being a definitive and absolute justification – the ultimate proof of the end justifying the means.

I would recommend that you take a few minutes to read Professor Chua’s article. It is much too easy to mythologize or demonize the Tiger Mom approach to parenting. I would also suggest that you take a look at some other statistics – like the ones that show American schoolchildren underperforming when compared to their peers, not only in China, but in almost every developed country on this planet.

The globalization of the economy has also brought about the globalization of competition in almost all walks of life. American children may be less prepared for this competition than their parents and grandparents and that would be a sorrowful legacy to convey.

Healthcare Hypocrisy

Last week the House of Representatives voted to repeal the healthcare bill passed by Congress in March of 2010. In a high and righteous dudgeon, the new Republican majority congratulated itself in firing the first salvo in the battle to repeal “Obamacare” because, in their view, the American people do not want the universal, guaranteed healthcare that every citizen of every developed nation on earth expects and receives as a matter or right.

A few true ideologues in the G.O.Tea Party have refused the gold plated healthcare coverage that every member of Congress receives from the day they take office for the rest of their lives – past retirement, indictment and conviction.

But most of the Republican leadership, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann come to mind; have clung to these benefits without excuse, explanation or shame.

It is bad enough and sad enough that as this country continues to slog through an economic morass that Republicans think that symbolic votes to nowhere is what this country needs. It is even worse that they walk the halls of Congress attired in full frontal hypocrisy – healthcare for me, but not for you – is the clarion call of the day for the Party of No.

Sarah Free February

It has been time for Sarah Palin to go for a long time. She was “refudiated” by the American electorate in 2008. She wisely quit as governor of Alaska before the citizens of the 49th state had the opportunity to administer a coup de grace to her political career.

Since then she has absorbed the limelight and spewed illogic, in the process assuming importance out of all proportion to her relevance or intelligence. And then there was the Tucson Massacre.

By clearly demonstrating her narcissism and tone deafness she has forfeited even the pretension to any position of leadership. But, being Sarah Palin, she won’t exit the stage as long as a few footlights continue to shine on her tarnished persona.

So Point of View will observe a “Sarah Free February”. Not another word will be written about her for the rest of this month or for the month February. After that, we shall see.

One more thing – GO JETS!!!!

Have a great weekend!

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