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A Free Middle East? Blame George W. Bush!

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 04:20 PM

With protests sweeping the Middle East from Bahrain to Yemen to Jordan and, of course, to Libya, and with the departure of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak from Egypt, now seems like a good time to remind everyone: Bush was right.

"A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," said President Bush back in 2003. Oh, how liberals scoffed. Bush was too "stupid" to realize the Middle East could never be free, that they would always live in tyranny and backwardness. Bush believed in something different: that if the Arab world understood that they could have freedom and democracy, these weren't concepts outside their reach. They would want that freedom and all the choices that come with it.

Another Bush line from the same time: "The human heart desires the same good things everywhere on Earth. In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same."

I mock liberals above because they wanted Bush to fail so badly that they couldn't see that he was pushing very liberal ideas in the Middle East. The truth is, conservatives weren't entirely on board with transforming a part of the world that seemed immovable. Bush has been mocked for his "freedom is on the march" line. But just because it was premature in 2005 does not mean it was incorrect. Freedom protests had already hit the Arab world and while results would take time, Bush's domino effect predictions are turning out to be correct.

I've written on "It's a Free Country" about how intellectualism isn't necessarily a plus for a public official. In comparing George W. Bush and Barack Obama, this is truer than ever. The liberal elite consider Barack Obama very intelligent and Bush a simpleton, yet Bush represented bold leadership for the country while Obama seems unable to take a position on even the remarkable events of the last month. Does America still stand on the side of freedom? This president seems unsure. Our last president was not.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.

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Comments [44]

jacobmichael786

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<a href="http://www.t-shirtat.com/shop/design-by-country-arabic-tshirts/">Middle Eastern tee shirt quotes, Trendy t shirts with slogans, tee shirts with slogans</a>

Sep. 01 2011 05:29 AM
Mark from Brooklyn

@Luis murrell
Dear Luis i don't even know how to respond to this latest comment of yours. I am perfectly aware that the name Nazism stands for National socialism but, I am sorry to inform you, that doesn't mean they were socialists. There is a story down from where I live, that claims to have the best burgers in the world! Guess what...they don't!..
Yes Luis. You are never going to believe this but the name of things is not really indicative of what they are!...It's like when G. Bush called his new law to allow industries to emit more pollutants into the environment the "Clear sky initiative".

Apr. 06 2011 10:12 PM
Luis Murrell from Brooklyn, NY

Uh, Mark? Nazis WERE socialists. (Nazi= acronym for National Socialist German Workers Party)

At least Karol got that right...

Mar. 10 2011 11:06 AM
Irene Lape

I agree with you completely. Thank you for bringing an independent if discordant voice to WNYC. I love public radio and television, but there are not many there who would speak well of George W. Bush.

Mar. 08 2011 06:29 AM
A-Z from NY

If you think Bush wanted freedom instead of turmoil in the middle east, you need to wake up. Can someone tell me how much money the Bush Family and his constituants stand to make, if there is disruption to africa's and the middle east oil production and sales. The real question is when are Americans going to collectively to take a stand and boycott these rulers of man. To stop this enslaving mechanism they have created. People are starving, and dying over this foolish stuff.

Mar. 03 2011 09:40 AM
sonny mehta

Markowicz have you heard of logical fallacies? For starters you attribute freedom in the middle east to the U.S. assistance to provide democracy in Iraq...! What?!? Are you serious how can you look at what citizens in Arab countries were dealing with and attribute the fall of their dictators to some sort of mystical GW Bush inspired regional revolutions. This is nonsense, over 30% unemployment?! If we had 30 percent unemployment then we would have some sort of civil unrest as well. Please consider what these people of Arab countries were going through as well as G dubya's support of Arab dictators. These same dictators were more than happy to torture and assist the U.S. before in order to protect our "freedom." Your article is totally dis-proven by your lack of respect for history and to the people of the middle east.

Mar. 03 2011 12:33 AM
Keith

Consiberal:

"Absolutely Iraq had an effect on the current demonstrations sweeping the Middle East."

In what way? You're making a claim that Iraq had an effect on protests in Egypt. It is up to you to prove a causal relationship.

Liberals, leftists and a good deal of Libertarians protested the war not because they believed the Middle-East can never be democratic. This is a tired, cliche strawman meant to depict criticism of the war as stemming from elitism or racism. In reality, many protested the war because they surmised the U.S. government had no actual interest in bringing real democracy to Iraq. Iraq was invaded because of complex geopolitical issues, not because Americans or the American government care about the well-being of the Iraqi people.

Meanwhile, in the "imperfect fledgling democracy" of Iraq, Iraqis are experiencing a situation that would probably seem oddly familiar to the citizens of Egypt. Iraqis have started to stage their own protests against government corruption and unemployment and are being shot and killed for it:

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Protesters-Turn-Out-Across-Iraq-116907138.html

Feb. 28 2011 12:36 AM
Consiberal

Sorry....but as much as I hate the whole Iraqi debacle even today, I gotta admit...and you vindictive Bush haters should as well.....those purple fingers broadcast worldwide had a bigger effect than anyone could ever imagine. Freedom is the one common language of all mankind. I lived in the Middle East amongst the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia for 5 years. You can tell from the comments of people who have never live amongst the Arabs have nothing but ignorance to display. I understand though...before I lived it, I was ignorant too..of course they want freedom. Absolutely Iraq had an effect on the current demonstrations sweeping the Middle East. Imperfect fledgling democracies are still democracies. A beacon of freedom burns brighter than one thinks. Bush, whether intended or not was a major seed planter in current events.

Feb. 27 2011 12:43 PM
Keith

Karol from NYC:

I don't think it particularly matters that you yourself were personally never a liberal. I think the fact that you seemingly support Bush's foreign policy, which you state yourself was "pushing very liberal ideas", is the very embodiment of what modern neoconservatism actually is, as opposed to what "old school" conservatism in this country used to stand for. The Old right-wing of this country used to be consistently defined in foreign policy by it's isolationism and unwillingness to want to get involved in international affairs, not for it's propensity for war-mongering and interventionism like modern conservatism is. Liberalism, conversely, used to be defined by it's propensity for getting involved in international wars and affairs (Wilson, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson).

Cheers.

Feb. 26 2011 04:03 PM
Herb from Yonkers

Spreading Democracy was only one of the
various and fraudulent reasons Bush gave
to justify the Iraq invasion. I think it was obvious,even then, it was a major move to create
an image of a"War President" to assure his
re-election.

Feb. 26 2011 01:11 PM
Mark from New York

One needs to understand Marcowicz and the other conservatives who have been very busy during these last weeks of social unrest in the Middle East spinning this latest fairy tale about W's vindication. The war in Iraq has been such a monumental disaster and a shameful page in American history that they are desperate to manufacture any shred of link to something positive.
Regardless of personal political ideas however, I think the real issue here is (as very often is with conservatives...): where is the evidence of that claim? Is there any way to corroborate it? Has anybody heard any demonstrators chanting "Thanks America" or "Long Live W?". Has anybody seen any of the banners carried by the protesters mentioning Iraq in any way, shape or form? Has any foreign commentator interviewed in the US or in any of these countries advanced any similar interpretation? Has any historian established a link between the American invasion of Iraq and this political unrest almost a decade later? I don't think so. Until it happens "George Bush was right" is just another Marcowicz's amusing slogan like "Tax cuts work" or "Nazis were socialists.

Feb. 26 2011 10:07 AM
Karol from NYC

"war-enthused neo-conservatives like Karol Markowicz"

Hey, hey, hey Keith, I may be war-enthused but I'm no neo-conservative. Neo means "new", as in someone who was once a liberal but is now a conservative. I was never a liberal.

Feb. 25 2011 04:47 PM
m from nj

I am happy for anyones freedom....I just hope they have a plan & 6 million extremists do not appear on our shores!! Our troops are everywhere else in the world but here!

Feb. 25 2011 04:43 PM
Keith

The author of this article may want to consider that if there is now a democratic movement in the Middle East, it is in spite of the United States, not because of it. The fact that the dictatorial regimes of both Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali were U.S. sponsored seems to be a fact that many war-enthused neo-conservatives like Karol Markowicz seem eager to sweep under the rug lately and why it is not a larger point of national shame is beyond me. The guns Mubarak's regime used to shoot down Egyptian protesters were American bought. We also have to contend with the fact that what democratic gains that have been made by Egypt and Tunisia are still perilously fragile considering there is still a military junta actively in charge of each country.

Beyond that, what evidence is there that the invasion of Iraq had any effect on the current movements in these countries? Those who make up the revolutionary movements don't seem to particularly take any inspiration from America's blunders in the Middle-East. Groups who made up a good deal of the movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian/Tunisian socialist groups, in fact, hold entirely negative opinions of the U.S. overall and it's intervention in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that many conservative talking heads were arguing against these movements out of fear they might install governments that were not inherently U.S. friendly, in fact, speaks to how much of them actually care about self-determined Middle-Eastern democracy: very little.

The truth is neither Obama nor Bush nor any American deserves any credit for any of the current democratic movements in the Middle-east and that any resulting democratic reforms do not justify the war in Iraq, which was sold not on our love for spreading democracy but on the premise that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to our national security (he wasn't). It also happened to cost hundreds of thousands in innocent Iraqi lives, injured or displaced millions more and replaced one horrible, torture-friendly regime with another that was just U.S. sponsored.

Feb. 25 2011 03:45 PM
kthomas from South of Heaven

Ridiculous article. Your basic butt kissing reported.

Feb. 25 2011 03:18 PM
Ibrahim Dababneh

Karol, I’m a Middle Eastern man from Jordan. I have followed the politics of this region for a very long time and I’m here to tell you that the Iraqi people don’t feel free. If you follow the news there is demonstration in many parts of Iraq. Bush merely replaced one oppressive regime with another a Sunni government for a Shiite, which I believe long term, is not in the best interest of the west. The fact is most Shiite followers align them selves with Iran. As for the sudden wave of democratic movement washing over the region it started in Tunis by a poor vegetable vendor who set himself on fire after local police destroyed his vegetable stand for lack of a permit. That was the spark that enraged the poor, underprivileged and the unemployed who have been gravely affected by the recent world recession. Tunis was the model that demonstrated to the people of the Middle East that it was possible. As for the outcome of this movement I pray that it leads to true democracy and is not hijacked by Islamism or more corrupt leaders. There are great unknowns and I for one think it’s much too early to celebrate. This could prove to be America and Israel’s worst nightmare.

Feb. 25 2011 02:46 PM
Belah Limam

I am wondering Karol if we live in the same era.
Democracy has existed before in this region of the world before even the US existed.
The foreign policies of the US have totally supported these oppressors for many years and here you come to tell as that mister bush is a hero. I think you should go back and do some home work.
Thanks

Feb. 25 2011 02:42 PM
Scott from U.S.

It is amazing how a simple justified apology by Obama for the eight years of failures of bully tactics of the Bush Admin and a simple Cairo speech can go. I give full credit to Obama for the Arabs over coming their fears of the US and the autocratic goverments.

The author is short sided in their views and demonstrates just how out of touch many of the Nonconservatives are with foreign policy.

Feb. 25 2011 02:17 PM
Tiffany from california

Bush was a simpleton. He did champion democracy, but he did not understand that legitimate democracy must be a grass roots indigenous movement. It must be seized by a country's own people, not imposed upon a country by a foreign power.

Feb. 25 2011 02:06 PM
alan

does anyone care about bush anymore
or what happens to him?

Feb. 25 2011 01:39 PM
dalvz413 from NJ

if anything, this just shows that there was no need to invade Iraq in the first place and how backwards the idea of democracy through force really is.

Technology, as it's been already stated, is fomenting revolution in the Middle East, not Iraq's new government. We could have saved a whole lot of American lives and money, if we had dropped laptops and wi-fi on Iraq instead of bombs.

If you want to change a people, show them what they could have, don't take away everything they have.

Feb. 25 2011 01:12 PM

Fantastic article, you hit the nail right on the head.

Feb. 25 2011 12:58 PM
jackie from flatbush from brookl n

bush dnt stimulate freedom in arabia thru the iraq war but thru his creation of a financial crisis-otherwise stagnant econmies were hit hard n people in the mid east were rightfulli angri and motivated to voice their displeasure- democraci and freedom, its a head or a vibe, expressed in demonstrations, its catching. good for arabia-themovement was home grown- bush was irrelevant

Feb. 25 2011 12:14 PM
Jimmy Brown from Houston, Tx

How is it possible that someone this dense and ideologically blind can earn a living as a writer? The straw man argument that liberals were arguing that Muslims in the Middle east were too stupid for democracy is absurd.

And any suggestion that people in the Middle East were given a taste of freedom by U.S. occupation is not corroborated by facts. Most people in the Middle east still see the United States as an occupier, not a liberator. They also see our allegiance to Mubarak as an impediment to their freedom, and this occurred under several presidential administrations of both parties.

This author clearly is not objective and sees what she wants to see. She should move back to the former Soviet Union if she doesn't think the current president is sure about supporting freedom.

Feb. 25 2011 12:02 PM
Karol from NYC

And Gil, I'll happily compare passports with you and help you find the places I've been on a map.

Feb. 25 2011 10:59 AM
Karol from NYC

It's one thing to question the worthiness of the Iraq war, I supported and support it still, it's another to be blind to the fact that a free Iraq inspires its neighbors. Technology alone would never have been enough.

"These same people who gave Bush credits are the same ones who gave Reagan credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, again, happened on its own."

Let me tell you, as someone born in the Soviet Union, anyone who doesn't credit Reagan with bringing down Communism, and the wall, is in lalaland. Or do we credit Facebook for Berlin wall's fall too?

Feb. 25 2011 10:45 AM
Andrew Hansen

Let's say that all the rallies (including in Iraq) were inspired by the fall of Hussein. Is it worth losing the lives of (at the very least) 100,000 civilians in Iraq? 5,000 American troops? Displacing millions of people from their homelands? I suppose it remains to be seen, but war and torture and suspension of habeas corpus seem out of tune with freedom and democracy.

Feb. 25 2011 07:29 AM
arman from Iran

this has nothing to do with Bush, it was just a matter of time before it happens. If there is anyone we can give some credit for this he is Mark Zuckerberg (founder of facebook). Or better still, we should thank technology. For bringing meaning of democracy to middle east and everywhere, and providing a way to organize and protest against dictatorship. Thank you science!

Feb. 25 2011 02:36 AM
Bucko from San Diego CA

The Pro-Democracy movement is becoming a domino affect and I believe the seeds were planted after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the birth of democracy in Iraq. The rest of the Middle East waited to see what would happen while the rest of the world held its collective breath expecting the void to be filled by something worse. 8 years later and the free people of Iraq are participating in peaceful elections and are holding up purple thumbs in victory. The government of Iraq is getting stronger, the infrastructure is becoming solid and prosperity will find its way into every home. Whatever means brought it about is beside the point - ask an Iraqi.

Feb. 25 2011 02:20 AM
Ooops it was about the WMD from Not In Fantasy Land

Dateline 19 March 2003, Oval Office of the White House, Washington, D.C. -

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger, <i>stir democratic uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya 8 years from now in February of 2011, spawn the iPhone & iPad revolution and bring the Green Bay Packers a Super Bowl victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. </i>

Hey genius! How many billions did George W. Bush funnel to Hosni Mubarack for the 8 years of his presidency?

never mind. there's a unicorn with sparkles pooping rainbows.

Feb. 25 2011 02:00 AM
Ooops it was about the WMD from Not In Fantasy Land

Dateline 19 March 2003, Oval Office of the White House, Washington, D.C. -

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger, <i>stir democratic uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya 8 years from now in February of 2011, spawn the iPhone & iPad revolution and bring the Green Bay Packers a Super Bowl victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. </i>

Hey genius! How many billions did George W. Bush funnel to Hosni Mubarack for the 8 years of his presidency?

never mind. there's a unicorn with sparkles pooping rainbows.

Feb. 25 2011 01:58 AM
mxto from CA

I credited Bush for unecessarily slaughtering 5,000 U.S. soldies in his crazy wars in Iraq and Afgan. and the permanent injuries of thousands US soldies, not to mention the deaths of innocent citizens from these two countries. Democratic events in the middle east has happened and would have happened regardless US involvements. In fact, this hands off approach is the best that has ever happened to America. No one dies and it doesn't cost us even a penny! These same people who gave Bush credits are the same ones who gave Reagan credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, again, happened on its own.

Feb. 25 2011 01:44 AM
Josh

Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya revolted because they were inspired by the democracy we brought to Iraq?

That's an interesting take. I'm sure the Arab world looks at the great life we have brought to Iraq and says "I want THAT!"

Feb. 25 2011 01:34 AM
Gil from Tampa

This article is completely flawed. Not even once was the word Tunisia mentioned, not in the article and in none of the comments. I guess those self proclaimed right wing Middle East experts, many of whom do not even own a passport, never even heard of that country. Around mid December a bunch of frustrated kids in Tunisia's hinterland started this revolution, which they probably never even dreamt was to become a global movement. When on January 14th Tunisia's strongman Ben Ali was finally sent packing, the whole Arab world started to realize that those strongmen who had been oppressing them for so long - were really not all that strong after all. A psychological barrier had been broken. It was not until three weeks later that Egypt followed. The kids in Tunisia were certainly not inspired by Iraq, a bloody mess with 50% unemployment, a country which has been robbed of its sovereignty. Through their satellite dishes, most Tunisians have access to TV stations from around the world (as opposed to most Americans). They are used to seeing democratic debates on French TV, this is where they got the idea of democracy from.
Iraq may have been given some form of democracy, however in exchange of their national sovereignty, or is anyone really thinking that those 14 American military bases (mostly located around the oil fields) are going anywhere? The whole thing is seen as an unholy alliance between American oil interests and the Israel lobby, certainly not inspiring to any Arab. Trying to credit Bush for the current democratization wave sweeping through the Arab world is a despicable cheap shot.

Feb. 24 2011 11:44 PM
NB~MB from Puerto Rico

Yes, it's true that Obama is weak and ineffectual. He tries to play the middle ground in hopes that it will satisfy every demographic, without actually accomplishing anything.

Bush may have been nothing more than a sweet simpleton, but at least represented an administration that had clear and ambitious goals of conquering the oppressive middle east.

With the uncertain future becoming ever so more frightening, I can only advise my personal ideology. Living life without fear, and stepping back from the manufactured terrors of modern media.

If you'd like to know more, visit http://mrandmisadventure.blogspot.com/
You won't regret it!

Feb. 24 2011 10:43 PM
William D. from Bronx

Interesting how the conservatives are distorting here. Do they forget and underestimate that our current president with an Islamic name gave the most praised speech in the Egypt just a few years ago?

To say inspired people there with the following words, would be an understatement in the least-

"The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one.

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average."

Feb. 24 2011 10:29 PM
Rob Duncan

You know, you have your good and bad in every president. But it all boils down to that does that president lean more towards a good president or a bad president. In Clinton's case, he sold vaccinations to third world countries, did marijuana, had an affair while in office. Then Bush arrives and is left to face problems in the Middle East. There was some issues going on from the Middle East during Clinton's time in office and Clinton did nothing about it. He just let it go in one ear and out the other. Bush walks in to the picture, bam, the terrorists strikes and Bush chose to stand up like a man and take action. But as soon as he does, today's PROGESSIVE LIBERALS jump on their STUPID bandwagon by blaming Bush for the 911 attacks. I don't blame Bush for his immediate response. Many Americans lost their lives due to Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist group. Then shortly after the attacks, Bush tightens airport security. Those PROGRESSIVE LIBERALS (AKA TODAYS DEMOCRATIC PARTY) starts huffin and a puffin saying that the airport security is violating their personal space. Oh please! :0

Feb. 24 2011 10:12 PM
Heather from Dracut, Ma

This can not have anything to do with Bush. I am sure it is all about Obama policy.

I mean look at how consistantly Obama has treated people in the middle east who seek Democracy.

He backed the protesters on Egypt when they were bombed by jet fighters exactly the same way he is now supporting the protesters in Libya...... Oh wait, yeah no jets bombed anyone in Egypt. Oops.

Well he called the President of Libya and demand he step down immediately, just like he did with the president of Egypt. Oh, wait, yeah he didn't do that either. Oops.

And he has not done any of these things to support the protesters in Iran. Maybe Obama does not know there are protesters in Iran!

So, yeah this has to all be due to Obama's policy on middle east. Ahh, does anyone actually know what Obama's policy on the middle east actually is?

Can anyone actually tell me when it is Obama supporters protesters seeking Democracy and when he doesn't? Does he support them when they are pushed around only, or does getting bombed by jet fighters count too?

Does he only ask leaders who have worked with us to step down from office, or does he also do this with the ones who chant "death to America" on a daily basis too?

Feb. 24 2011 09:19 PM
Seamus from Syracuse, NY

On what Kurt, said those are the real reason the middle east is in the sate that it is in now. They are unhappy with there current state and there using tried and true methods to try and fix their lives. We in America need to learn to accept that everything that happens in the world doesn't really involve us and we are the the source of everything right in the world and give credit where credit is due, to those fine people standing up for themselves.

Feb. 24 2011 08:53 PM
Kurt

you cant honestly believe us in Iraq has anything to do with Egypt, can you? They have a 50% unemployment. They were starving. Absolutly NO ONE there says, oh yeah, we saw what the US did in Iraq, lets over through our government...which is supported by the US. Along with Libya's.

HA. Oh my god. So you are saying the US liberating Iraq inspired Egypt to free its self of the dictator the US supports?

If by freedom you mean 1 million dead civilians by our hands, intentionally lying to congress about the situation that lead to war, contracting out our military to unaccountable private firms, removing our right to trial, enabling the government to assassinate its own citizens.

Obama hasnt undone any of this though so I'm not going to toot his horn. Obama and Bush have the exact same controllers.

Wake up.

Feb. 24 2011 08:01 PM
R. Don Wright from Pennsylvania

The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to prevent the use of WMD ("yeah, right") and not to facilitate democracy. To attribute the current political changes in North Africa and the Middle East to G.W. Bush eight years later is farfetched and fails to honor those who have actually risked and bled and died for these changes. If you just want to praise GW, find another reason.

Feb. 24 2011 07:08 PM
RIck from Chicago

good article.

Feb. 24 2011 05:52 PM
gale beagle from portland OR

This is a rather bias republican position.

Feb. 24 2011 04:51 PM
John Braggiotti from San Diego, CA

Excellent!!...you are one of the few that have connected the dots.

The Liberals have their heads in the sand...they don't get it. Now more than ever we need to support democracy in these countries.

While not forgeting our own nation, critical period for america now, we need to unite and prevent these failed SOCIALISTIC policies continue to dismantle our great nation.

Keep up this great work!

Feb. 24 2011 04:50 PM

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