g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, October 23, 2004
00:26 - It's quite simple, really

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These people must not win.

Seriously. Come on, people.

Friday, October 22, 2004
18:59 - If Kerry wants to murder someone, now would be the perfect time to do it
http://sgtstryker.com/index.php/archives/pre-election-post-alcs-thoughts/

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Check out this very good post by ThePie of Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing. It sure does seem like Kerry's enjoying an immunity that diplomats double-parked on 42nd Street might envy, doesn't it?

- How can Lurch go around shooting defenseless geese and the PETA folks not get mad? Imagine if Bush had gone hunting and bagged a goose. He’d be about as popular as Daniel LaRusso when he first moved to LA. My other favorite part of this story was that even the AP, a truly liberal news organization, called it a pure photo-op. They didn’t even try to disguise this as something Kerry loves to do. It’s so obvious now that he is out of touch with the rest of the common men and women of the United States that even his own supporters can’t bring themselves to lie anymore. Oh, and just so you liberals don’t have too much of a moral debate about your candidate shooting animals with guns, no one in the media actually saw Kerry shoot the 12-gauge shotgun he was carrying. And judging by his 40% hit rate at a skeet range several months ago, it’s doubtful he actually hit anything if he did shoot the thing.

There's plenty more. Oh, and Powerline has the Photos from the Opportunity.

The man could drive a Hummer through a protected wetland while shouting racial epithets at bewildered spectators standing on shore, and the Left would still be floundering after him, grins fixed like bayonets, holding his banner high out of the muck.

UPDATE: You know, it occurs to me that if Kerry loses, given all the bizarre gaffes and foul-ups and transparently obvious incidents where his campaign has tried so bumblingly to manufacture some kind of even marginally plausible opportunity for him to scrape up a few more votes from this group or that demographic or the other bunch of sports fans, the story of his campaign from behind the scenes is going to make one hell of a book.

Hell, I'd buy it. It'd probably be side-splitting. Especially if Kerry grows a sense of humor, somehow, after the election's over. It worked for Bob Dole...


15:14 - Action Hank isn't rugged enough to be on this page
http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/

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This is the coolest thing I have seen in an extremely long time: The World Beard and Moustache Championships.

Beard categories from "Fu Manchu" to "Musketeer" to "Freestyle".

That just cracks me up. It so rocks.


14:51 - The student has surpassed the master
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/TECH/biztech/10/21/sony.stores.ap/index.html

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From the look of this article forwarded by JMH, Sony is feeling a bit "beleaguered" itself these days.

Apparently Apple has had such resounding success with its retail stores that every other hip tech company across the board has jumped onto the retail bandwagon, from Bose to Samsung, each promising its own unique and innovative approach to showcasing its products and proving to the existing retail base that it's not trying to eat their lunch. But not many of them, evidently, are meeting with the kind of insane lining-up-out-the-door accolades as Apple's fans still give their stores. And now Sony has some decidedly flustering hurdles to clear in their own bid to become mallwalker magnets:

Sony's store carried a few gadgets that weren't sold at Best Buy or Circuit City, including its new 20-gigabyte, $400 digital music player, Sony's answer to Apple's iPod, and its latest lightweight Vaio laptop for $3,000.

When scouting locations, Sony looks at shopping malls with the most sales in the nation's top 50 markets and bargains for the busiest sections of those malls.

The Costa Mesa store, which is next to Gucci, is about 6,000 square feet, roughly one-seventh the size of a Best Buy. The tight quarters means selection is limited to about 18 televisions, 15 computers and 12 camcorders. The stores offer everything from $20 headphones to a $20,000 projection television.

On a recent Wednesday evening, men outnumbered women about four to one.

Armand Darbish, a 44-year-old engineer, left empty-handed in his search for a wireless networking card, disappointed with the small selection.

"They don't really understand the techie stuff," he said.

Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like it's a particularly good sign when Sony can't inspire its customers to label them as being good at "techie stuff".

Meanwhile, it's sort of sad to see the Dell kiosk sitting in the middle of a mall aisle, occupying the same footprint as a watch repair stand, getting customers to fill out forms to have their gear shipped to them from the factory, instead of being able to walk out of there with the new toy you just swiped across the laser scanner in the sheet-metal wall. Hey, I guess one can't argue with Dell, but it just seems like such a dreary alternative...


09:33 - Taking a step back for a moment

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09:30 - Don't get in his way

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I tell you, it's downright unnerving to see Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing on TV in the middle of The Simpsons, putting on his best steely Terminator face (you know, the one where you can only see his lower teeth), and denouncing the untaxed proliferation of Indian gaming.

It's cool, but it's unnerving. (And it particularly would be if I were a casino owner.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004
22:50 - It helps when the chorus is reading from the same script

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In response to this post from earlier today, reader B.I. Simpson e-mails:

I think there's one point that's being forgotten.

That point is, as far as the press is concerned, Democrats can do no wrong.

If you look back, you see:

1. "Clinton was a draft dodger." MSM: Cut the man some slack! No one wanted to go to Vietnam! Let's focus on today, instead!
"Bush was a draft dodger' [which I don't believe]. MSM: He's unfit to lead!

2. "Bush was kind of wild in his college days." MSM: He should be thrown out!
"Clinton was kind of wild in his presidency." MSM: That's not important, that's a distraction. Partisan attack!

And so on. Granted, Clinton was granted an astonishing love by the press that I have never seen before or since. He could simply do no wrong, so he may be a bad example.

But my larger point is that, should Kerry win, and he decides that we need to stay the course in Irag, and move on to Iran and Syria, the press will shower these actions with accolades and talk about how he has "the courage to face the tough challenges," "he's not afraid of the hard road," "he's leading this nation so we can bring peace and democracy to the world," etc.

That opens up a very interesting discussion. What if, let's say, 9/11 had occurred on the watch of a Democratic president that the press already liked, and who was as evangelical about American ideals as Bush is? What if the media had actually been a cheerleader for that President's aggressive vision of exporting liberty and democracy to the Middle East in order to smother terrorism in its cradle? What if we'd had no internecine battle to fight between the Administration and the mass media, always obstructing and gainsaying each successive step in the War on Terror? I have to imagine we'd have chewed through Afghanistan and Iraq in half the time as actually happened, and perhaps moved on to yet more ambitious projects, all with as much popular support as the Kosovo action or the Gulf War.

Now, this isn't to suggest that I think switching to Kerry at this point would help in this way even slightly. It's a prerequisite for said hypothetical Democratic President to believe viscerally in those American ideals we're trying to push on the world's Muslim theocracies and megalomaniacal dictatorships. I just don't get any sense that John Kerry has any such beliefs—the extent to which he believes in the transformative power of liberty is the extent to which he can leverage the PR points of "free speech" during popular political movements to further his own career, and little more; like so many Leftists I've known, and like myself all through high school and college, it seems as though for him to speak in frank tones about individual liberty and inalienable human rights is so much uncomfortable play-acting, like putting on a dress for an authentic Shakespearean role. He's an opportunist and a phony, and I can't see him as a champion advancing any American ideals beyond our borders because, well, he's embarrassed by them: they get in the way of his adopting other people's trendy ideas imported from the fashionable parts of the world.

Besides which, the very act of switching Presidents is going to be dangerous in itself. In the eyes of the rest of the world, for us to swap out Bush for anybody is going to make us look conciliatory and unsure of our footing; even if we voted Pat Robertson into office, or Tom DeLay, or a reincarnated Reagan, the terrorists would still see it as a victory—the man they attacked would be gone, and they'd still be operating. That's why Saddam Hussein fashioned himself a victor over the U.S. in the Nineties: he was still in office after Desert Storm... and Bush wasn't. Who in his part of the world could argue?

No, we can't change horses now. This isn't World War II, where our opponents were whole nations with sophisticated international diplomats and modern cosmopolitan populaces; this isn't a total war of attrition where every citizen of every involved country is effectively part of the armed forces, where the President serves as the General and might be swapped out for reasons as simple as gastroenteritis, and the military machine would still go on, pursuing the greater goal that everyone clearly sees. This is something much more personal, more visceral: a war between figureheads, where there's no point in coming up with vague racial stereotypes ("Nips", "Krauts") for the various players as we did back then, and where everything is centered to some extent or other on the movements of Bush, Blair, Anzar, Howard, Saddam, al-Zarqawi, bin Laden. Any one such figurehead disappearing from the stage and being replaced by another fundamentally changes the rules. Victory is assured, in part, by keeping our figurehead in the game longer than the other guys can keep their figureheads in the game.

Perhaps it's true that Bush is a far from ideal person to have had in office on the morning of September 11th, if only because of the inevitably hostile media; maybe things would have gone far more smoothly and successfully, and maybe indeed the world would be a much improved place already, if John McCain or Joe Lieberman or, say, Zell Miller had been in office at the time. But it could also have been far, far worse: just think, for example, if Jimmy Carter had had to give that address on September 20th.

But just the same, such speculation is pointless. We're in the situation we're in, and all that remains to us is to make the best decisions possible with the hand we're dealt, to borrow from Jackson's Gandalf. Right now that means proving to the world that we care about victory on our current course more than we care about popularity on the world stage or with the talking heads on the evening news. What we need is to plant our feet and insist that we'd rather do the right thing than the popular thing, just as Bush said during the second debate; and since we have a choice between a man who feels comfortable saying those words on national TV, and a man who can barely bring himself to talk about God or hunting or fighting Communism in order to curry needed votes, it would seem that the choice is a no-brainer.

"Change" is a fine anthem to chant if we don't believe in what we have aready. But some of us do believe... and we can't afford any change just right now.


14:18 - I've never seen the air so clear

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This morning and yesterday followed the weekend's unseasonable storm, which dumped a huge amount of rain on the Bay Area and then skittered off, leaving the roads to slowly absorb the puddles out from under the piles of startled leaves heaped in the gutters. There are still lingering clouds jetting across the still-chilly sky, as though trying to catch up. It feels like winter. And as is so often the case on days like these, the views across the Valley are spectacular. You can see up to the San Bruno Hills and Mt. Tamalpais from any unobstructed perch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I bike on weekends; and not just that, but the air is so cracklingly clear and crisp, it looks like someone's just wiped the whole region with Windex and turned up the color saturation to eleven.

I haven't lived in the Bay Area long enough to know how unusual days like this are; yet somehow I keep getting the feeling that this kind of thing is getting more frequent, not less.

Apparently it's not my imagination, either:

2004 has had the lowest ozone smog levels since states began measuring the stuff back in the 1970s. Based on preliminary data from around the country, days exceeding EPA's tough new 8-hour ozone standard declined an average of about 50 percent below 2003, which was itself a record year.[1]

A combination of continuing emission reductions and favorable weather explains the improvements. Weather is the single largest factor affecting year-to-year variations in smog levels. All else equal, cool, wet, and windy years will have less ozone than warm, dry, and calm ones. But weather is only part of the story. During the last 30 years most of the country has had several years that were cooler and/or wetter than 2004, but never have smog levels been anywhere near this low.

. . .

Overall, 8-hour ozone exceedance days declined an average of about 50 percent between 2003 and 2004, meaning that 2004 is not only the best year on record, but the best by a large margin.

In The Day After Tomorrow, it took the cataclysmic destruction of the world's civilized regions by freak murderous weather changes for the stain of wretched humanity to be wiped clean from the skies. It is, after all, an article of faith that everything is getting worse with time; nothing ever gets better.

Doesn't news like this just suck?

(Via .clue.)


13:06 - It's the most wonderful time of the year

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Pomegranate season!



Woo-hoo!


11:41 - But it was all, you know, a mistake
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/archives/2004_10_01_iraqthemodel_archive.html#10983

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Omar got a passport.

I should’ve written about this some days ago but I had to spend a week in Basra...Anyway, I feel it’s still worth writing about (at least from my point of view):
last week, I crossed the borders for the first time in my life; something may sound less than regular for most of you but for an Iraqi dentist or doctor it was a beautiful dream becoming a reality.
Countless numbers of Iraqi doctors, dentists, officers and professionals carrying Msc or Phd ended up in prison or even lost their lives for trying to get passports (faked ones of course and at a very high cost) to get out of Saddam’s hell.

This time, it wasn’t hard for me at all to get my passport (a real one) and it cost me practically nothing; just two personal photographs and after five days I had my passport in my hand. No Mukhabarat asking why, where to and for how long, no 400 000 Dinars exit tax, no bribes to border guards...etc

. . .

This may sound silly but It’s really something nice to be able to move freely, leave your country whenever you want and come back whenever you like and I can’t describe to you what I felt when I saw the word “EXIT” printed on one of the passport’s pages; I was sad for what we missed and at the same time optimistic and happy for what’s waiting for us in the future. Life seemed normal for me for the 1st time in my life. Soon after the war we could sense freedom immediately but this time we experienced it in a way that we haven’t before. It was an amazing feeling!
Despite all what’s Baghdad is going through, nothing can match the peace I felt when I walked down from the airplane in Baghdad's airport.



11:32 - Money well spent
http://www.whatiam.net/

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Wow. This needs to be read, like, a lot. It cost a guy $104,655.60 to run it on a full page of the Washington Post, and he had better get his money's worth. Internet to the rescue!

WHAT I AM … is an American who understands the difference between “censorship” and “choice”. Evidently, these individuals do not, because when these same “celebrities” receive public ridicule for their offensive actions, the first thing they yell is “Censorship!”. What they seem incapable of understanding is… the right of free speech and dissent is shared equally by those offended… as well as those who offend. I support and will continue to support those films and performers whom I choose to … and refuse to support those I don’t. It is my right as an American … a right I will continue to enthusiastically exercise.

That's only one of several dozen such paragraphs. Do read 'em all.

Via Cartago Delenda Est.


10:59 - Hah!

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Waiting in the left-turn lane onto Bandley just now, I saw in my rear-view mirror a silver Ferrari 360 Modena coming up on me in the lane immediately to my right.

As it passed me, I saw that the license plate said HI DEBT.

Awesome!


10:20 - Not that there's anything wrong with that
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1098346007.shtml

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Dean has it right:

If Kerry wins, the American people will have spoken definitively, and for all time so far as I am concerned. They will have, in effect, said, "We will not support pre-emptive wars or large-scale efforts to democratize other nations any longer. We simply haven't got the stomach for what's required."

Because let's face it: by any rational measure, the Iraq war has gone better than any operation of its type and scale has ever gone in history. And yet the piddling cost and the incredible work of our people is now routinely viewed as a disaster. The press is content merely to report the negative, without any rational or historical context, and the American people are (apparently) content to let them get away with it.

And that's okay. If that's what the American people want, it's what they want. If anyone proposes such a task in the future, I'll simply say "Look to the Iraq war. It will end in disaster because the press will only report failure and death and excuse that with phony mealy-mouthed claims of "objectivity," and within a year or two the American people will go wobbly. It's just who we are as a people."

That's what this election will mean. I don't think Kerry's going to win, but I'm bracing myself nonetheless. I'm bracing for condescending, patronizing head-patting from European acquaintances, which is a good deal worse than such acquaintances simply ignoring me out of disgust. I'm bracing for Michael Moore riding the wave of celebratory euphoria and becoming a political celebrity of unprecedented stature for someone from the filmmaking industry, rather like Oliver Stone winning a Senate seat, only with the added bonus of making our philosophical leaders look like the stereotypical fat, loud, obnoxious Americans we're already seen as. I'm bracing for Barbra Streisand, Janeane Garofalo, Arec Bardwin, Martin Sheen, MATT DAMON, Bruce Springsteen, and a thousand other actors and artists being filled with giddy joy and the sense that through the power of movies and songs and petulant theme concerts and appearances on The Daily Show they can change history, even if they haven't given a moment's thought to what they're fighting for except "change". I'm bracing for our troops (who support Bush by a margin of something like five to one) waking up in their barracks two weeks from now to find that the man who flew to visit them on Thanksgiving, who called them by name and saluted them and shook their hands until the tears streamed down their faces, has been kicked out of office by the American people in favor of someone whose promise to bring the troops home by any fixed date speaks more loudly and reassuringly to the enemy than to our soldiers or their families. I'm bracing for history books ten years from now to refer to the brief Bush II years as an unmitigated disaster during which the economy crashed, 9/11 occurred, and America embarked upon an inexplicable series of hideously unpopular foreign wars that were mercifully cut short before anyone could see any long-term results to prove what they were intended to achieve.

It won't be the end of the world, no. But it will suck. Especially if, as I'm also bracing for, the radical Islamists and rogue dictators all over the world (who have to a man endorsed John Kerry in a flurry of anti-Semitic vitriol, Eurocratic condescension, and screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11) take the election's results as a sign that the American people's righteous outrage over 9/11 has flagged and dissipated—and therefore that even an unprecedently audacious and bloody attack on the heart of America's premier city, forever rending its skyline and the Americans' sense of security in their homeland, will provoke only a couple of years of aimless thrashing before the beast lies still and goes back to sleep. If that's the worst America will do in response to an attack like 9/11, then what do the terrorists have to fear if they mount another? They're patient. They've waited six hundred years. They can take their time.

But terrorist attacks don't worry me all that much, really. What worries me is what we show of our character in response to such an attack. Any country can be happy in time of peace, after all—it's only in those periods of trial, like World War II, or Vietnam, that we really see what each country is made of. Now that Jimmy Carter has repudiated the Revolutionary War, blithely throwing away the two-hundred-year legacy of this country's fighting spirit that would never have existed if America had somehow gained its independence peacefully (which would not have happened, Jimmy), we see that shamefacedness over what this country has come to stand for has reached even into the uppermost echelons of our leadership, into the mind of someone who was once our President, and someone who now shares a box seat at the Democratic National Convention with Michael Moore, endorsing a philosophy that says the world would be better off without an America gumming up the works. If a sizable proportion of the populace comes to agree with Carter, or with the people who think like him, then we truly have left behind any traces of the generation that hurled itself into the forests of Belgium or the jungles of the South Pacific, let alone the one that tore itself to pieces on Little Round Top, each man believing deep in his heart that the cause for which he was taking a bayonet in the gut was right, right, right, and to hell with anyone who would tell him otherwise.

This country won't be the last one on the planet to slip over the edge into the postmodern, postnational, gray-and-shabby Nerf-padded peacefulness of apathy already embraced by Europe. The Middle East is younger, for all its history: it has the fire that we once did, and it will eat us alive if we have no heart to fight back—and meanwhile China and the Pacific Rim will come into our inheritance while we stare blankly at the wall of the convalescent hospital of nations. We can kid ourselves that it's better that way, that jacking into a virtual-reality paradise while our corporeal bodies wither is no different from paradise itself; but if we do, it'll be the end of any argument in favor of the experiment that is this country: the idea that freedom, human liberty itself, is a force greater than any other one on Earth, and once truly secured for its posterity by a people, they'll die before they let go of it.

We aren't ready to let go yet, are we?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
11:36 - Fall hits with a splash

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Whew. Big rainstorm suddenly blew in last night... the kind where huge raindrops pelt against the windshield so hard it sounds like they're about to come through.

It's the first real rain of the year, and it's already got lots of streets flooded and drains clogged; the weather services talk about "unseasonably severe cold fronts" in the advisories that are being circulated all around Northern California, and the temperature has dropped precipitously. Even Capri didn't ask for a walk this morning; he knew it was no good out there.

I'll bet Roland Emmerich could explain what's going on.

Monday, October 18, 2004
11:25 - Hip replacement
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=77&e=2&u=/mc/20041015/tc_mc/inspired

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Oh dear. Some marketing dweeb has been fancying himself "in touch" with "the youth demographic" again.

In November, Digital Lifestyles Group Inc. plans to ship the hip-e, a new Windows-based PC inspired by the iMac, specifically designed to cater to teenagers. It was Chairman and CEO Kent Savage's own experience after his son asked him for an iMac that led to the new all-in-one system's creation.

"We believe we're the world's first lifestyle computer for teens," Vice President of Marketing Annie Bacon told MacCentral in an interview on the floor of Digital Life, a consumer expo taking place this week in New York City. "We're targeting 13 to 19 year olds, but we've designed hip-e specifically with the 17 year old in mind -- partly because 13 and 14 year olds aspire to be 17 and have similar tastes."

Behind a 17-inch widescreen LCD display running at 1,440 x 900 pixels lies the heart of a PC running Windows XP (news - web sites), but Digital Lifestyles Group has created a package that offers its teen users an integrated experience with music, e-mail, instant messaging, gaming and more -- along with peripherals including flash-based MP3 players and a cell phone.

Say it. Say it: "Hip-e". Uhhh... huh. This look like anything that any computer-savvy kid would be seen near? And whose idea was it to make kids refer to their computer as a hippie? "C'mon, let's go gather around the hippie node! We can go to the hippie hangout! Call me on your hippie reachme! I'll have my hippie nodebook handy! What? No, I don't have a cold..."

It's funny that these guys are quite explicit in that they're trying to imitate the iMac, rather than other pretenders who in the past have maintained that they're pursuing their own original ideas, no really, honest. But the geniuses behind this little piece of insanity painted in plastic, like the abovementioned CEO, must have to go home to kids each night... kids that have iPods and know how to run a livejournal... and it must just tear them up inside to know how little they understand their kids' world.

Couldn't this kind, loving dad have simply bought his son an iMac like he'd asked?

(Via Mike).


11:05 - Debates summarized
http://www.imao.us/archives/002108.html

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The debate aftermath, in Frank J's world:

"Beyond this incident, though," Barnes commented, "I think Bush helped himself by showing a great command of the facts in the debate."

"I believe you are referring especially to this instance," Hume said, and a clip started playing.

"Now, I know how Edwards keeps talking about 'two Americas,'" Bush stated, "but I looked it up. On a world map, there are two Americas - North America and South America - but that's not my fault. According to scientists, it's the result of tectonic shifts breaking apart the Pangaea supercontinent... way before my administration. Kerry and Edwards need to stop lying about me!"

If Bush had actually used this line during the debates, he'd be up 70-30% by now.

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© Brian Tiemann