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Welcome to the weekly open thread for policy discussions by DK Elections regulars. While the main Daily Kos Elections blog, an official subsite of Daily Kos, is strictly a policy free zone for discussions of politics and elections only, it can sometimes be hard not to bring up policy issues when talking about particular candidates or topics. In addition, some of us might like to have a thoughtful discussion with other regular commenters at DKE on issues of policy when most of what we usually talk about pertains to elections. Thus, this open thread and the group blog Daily Kos Elections: Policy will provide a forum to talk about issues without derailing DKE Live Digests for those who just want election coverage and debate. Feel free to follow this group and if you would like to publish a diary to the group blog page, just PM me about becoming a contributor.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The UK is investing £310 million w/Siemens in a (0+ / 0-)

    wind turbine manufacturing hub AND massively expanding wind energy while the US continues to miss opportunities for jobs and increasing GDP by investing in clean energy.  Other than changing the electorate, what can we do to change this disturbing pattern?

    •  Is There Any Evidence Yet..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      .....that wind turbines and solar panels can be self-supportive free of government subsidies?  I'd really hate to see another ethanol boondoggle here, with millions of wind turbines selling for scrap at pennies on the dollar in another decade.  My parents' farm place was surrounded by these things a few years back and suffice it to say the energy barons putting them up are not receptive neighbors.

      •  I think the idea is (0+ / 0-)

        to have a good alternative network in place knowing that coal and natural gas will become more expensive due to scarcity in the future (not saying we'll ever "run out of" fossil fuels like a lot of people think, but rather that price will increase to make sure we don't).

        Personally I'd like to see more effort in nuclear energy at the moment as I think it's much more affordable right now and the environmental damage is hardly any worse, on average, than what we're already doing with fossil fuels.

        Solar and wind seem to still be in the research stage...lowering costs and increasing efficiency will make them more competitive in the future.

        •  I Concur...... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nuclear energy is always a high-risk/high-reward proposition, but it's always struck me as paying more handsome dividends than wind or solar ever will.  I'd like to see wind and solar be successful too, but can't help but feel that there's a reason why every prior attempt to harness the sun and the wind for energy has quietly ratcheted down following a brief period of being all the rage.  If I see evidence that these industries are self-sustaining I'll happily amend my skepticism but for now I'm still skeptical.  

          •  construction in eastern Oregon is still going on (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            they're building bigger and bigger wind farms. Wind is surpassing hydroelectric, which traditionally in the NW has been the main source of electricity. If you drive down the Columbia or fly over the eastern part of the state you will see hundreds if not thousands of turbines. It's making some farmers very rich.

            "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

            by James Allen on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 04:43:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah A Guy Could Almost..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .....swing across the entire Upper Midwest on the blades of wind turbines and never touch the ground at this point.  They're everywhere....and you're right that they're making the farmers rich (the nonfarmers surrounded by them get nothing but lost TV and cell reception and a 75% decline in property value but that's another story).  But my remaining question is 'are these things self-sustaining?'  If the government subsidies go away--and under some future administration with different priorities they are likely to--will these hundreds of thousands of wind turbines continue to pay for themselves?  We've endured enough hollow bubbles that ended up bursting in our economy in the last 30 years that any indication that we're dancing on the edge of another one should have our radars up.

              •  Given the importance of climate change, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                James Allen

                I think I'm ok with that risk.

              •  this isn't just a policy of choosing one form (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                of energy production over another, as Audrid pointed out. And the power companies here don't seem to care either. They figured out a way to make it work for them. There were a lot of problems for a while (what to do with all the excess energy when both the dams and turbines were producing a lot, more than enough?), but they've worked the kinks out.

                "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

                by James Allen on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:09:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  If you want to know the answer to that question (4+ / 0-)

        then you might also wonder how solar and wind could do if fossil fuels were not FAR more massively subsidized than sustainable energies.

        You might further wonder how they would do if the massive external costs of fossil fuels were factored into their price.

      •  Mark27, the UK project is creating a manufacturing (0+ / 0-)

        hub for the turbines which will reinvigorate the Hull area economy and build over 1000 great jobs as well as the offshore piece (another huge part of the economic pie that we are missing out on).  The UK is building multiple offshore wind farms (no neighbors out there to worry about and studies show that they can provide some protection from hurricanes).  Siemens is an older, very well established leader in electronics and manufacturing.  They are investing in this project because they know that they have a growing market for the products.  Whoever establishes leadership by succeeding on the ground floor, will reap the rewards.

        We should be looking for depressed industrial communities or business sectors which could be revitalized here in both the manufacturing and engineering/construction sectors to build and maintain the offshore farms on both the east and west coast.  I would think that areas famous for building ships and planes would be a great place to start.

        I was excited to hear about a bipartisan bill out of the Senate which is getting support from unlikely "characters" in the House (Rupublicans from MO and IA) which would renew the Production Tax Credit for wind energy which expired Dec 31, 2013.

        Certainly, land wind farms are on the rise, many just in the planning stage, thanks, in part, to the PTC for wind.  It would be a shame not to keep that ball rolling.  I know that in Illinois there is at least one more coming soon.  But, we have a long way to go.  As of 2013, only about 4% of IL power was from wind energy.

    •  Since we're talking energy, here's an article that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is quite disturbing but predictable on how natural gas is no cleaner than coal because all it does is lead to more coal exports and has issues of its own, like methane leaks:

      Specifically, the researchers calculated that the rise of natural gas in America’s energy mix cut our carbon emissions by 86 million tons over that time period. But the spike in exports increased carbon emissions from U.S. coal burned abroad by around 149 million tons.
      I really, really hope the next time we have a 111th Congress sized mandate this is our signature policy agenda as it's by far the most important issue going on globally. And to answer those of you elsewhere, I think nuclear power is fantastic from a technical perspective, but when it's privately done with public loan guarantees as in the US it becomes a fiscal boondoggle and massive giveaway to wealthy corporations. Countries like France or Japan that successfully drew a lot of their power from nuclear energy had it entirely state owned, as such a monopolistic and non-competitive industry should be.
  •  Well thanks for asking... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The issues I'm interested in are as follows:

    -Equity Under Law for all...including social equity such as LGBT rights.
    -Ending the racist drug war that has generationally destroyed the American family especially in the Black community.
    -Ending drone strikes, war and more wars.  Turning our Military Industrial Complex into a defensive role, not offensive.  Including reducing their funding by 75%.
    -Ending the School-To-Prison Pipeline and returning the Prison Industrial Complex to publicly run enterprise.
    -Making the wealthy in this nation pay the same effective tax rate that I do of 43%.
    -Ending the Revolving Door Politics between Big Business and the governmental agencies tasked with regulating said.
    -Holding the criminals in the CIA, FBI, NSA et al accountable.  Restructure or abolish them as needed.
    -End the Militarization of our LEO, they no longer are allowed to have weapons of war issued to them. This would include Ak-47's or any "assault rifles", tanks, body armor, sound cannons, water cannons, etc... "We The People" are not the enemy.
    -Release all non-violent drug "criminals" and employ them in living wage jobs restoring our crumbling infrastructure.  Give them a reason to be part of a free society once more.
    -Raise the Minimum Wage to $22 an hour, I'd be okay with $15 and hour to start.
    -Renegotiate or rescind our participation in NAFTA, GATT, The WTO and the IMF.  Tax the hell out of companies that move American jobs to slave labored nations. Where the can rape and pillage poorer nations with little or no regulations and destroy the planet in the process.
    -Hold accountable the criminals in our Banking System and on Wall Street.  Restore The Glass-Steagall Act verbatim. Seize their assets and liquidate them when the fail.  Prosecute them for criminal negligence and crimes against humanity.
    -Keep the Internet Open and Free.  Any "international" agreements must be done in view of the public.  No more secret deals, secret treaties or the denial of "We The Peoples'" participation in these things.
    -Repeal the Espionage Act, release and reimburse the whistleblowers that have been prosecuted or are currently being prosecuted under said law.
    -Our Congress Critters cannot participate in any legislation they have personal financial ties to. Past or Present. This would include family members.  They are not exempt from insider trading. No one is above the law, especially our "s"-elected representatives.
    -Hold those that do not do what we need, accountable.  Vote them out of office and replace them, with "more and better" democrats.


    Whew...thanks, that was just off the top of my head.


    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

    by gerrilea on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:39:56 AM PDT

  •  ICANN (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea, Audrid

    I've been interested in the no so much talked about issue of ICANN, the US lead agency that is a global overseer of the internet. The President has announced plans to turn the agency over to a group of international leaders rather than being run by the United States. Former President Clinton has been vocal in his opposition to that and it's possible effects on internet freedom around the world.

    Does anyone here have a take on the issue? Personally I think it sounds like a bad deal for everyone.

    Age 26, conservative Republican, beautiful WA Third district, WA LD-19

    by KyleinWA on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:31:02 AM PDT

  •  In previous policy threads (0+ / 0-)

    there have been at times heated discussions about race in politics, the notion of a colorblind society, identity politics, and so on.

    For the comic book fans (or comic book movie fans, of which I think there are far more) I thought you might enjoy an article about such issues in a particular Avengers comic book.

    That book was part of a series that brings together the Avengers with the     X-Men, a move that makes sense given they're both major Marvel properties already based on ensemble storylines, but tricky for the writer in that the Avengers are celebrated by the world for their superpowers, but the X-Men are from a world where people fear and hate the mutants.  Many X-Men stories (and the movies) have specifically explored the social aspects of this, drawing parallels to other oppressed minority groups in American history.  They've attacked bigotry and offered a message of tolerance in between the fights and explosions.

    So how did the writer bring that sentiment into the Avengers universe?  By having one of the X-Men (Havok/Alex Summers) deliver a speech as follows:

    "I don't see myself as born into a mutant cult or religion.  Having an X-gene doesn't bond me to anyone.  It doesn't define me.  In fact, I see the very word "mutant" as divisive.  Old thinking that serves to further separate us from our fellow man.  We are all humans, of one tribe.  We are defined by our choices, not the makeup of our genes.  So please, don't call us mutants.  The "m" word represents everything I hate.
    At that point, a reporter asks him, "What should we call you then?" and he replies "How about Alex?"

    It is quite clearly the writer making his personal statement on the themes of the X-Men, and his thoughts are of the typical "I don't see race / I'm colorblind / We're all the same / Stop talking about race" mindset that is quite common these days among those who actually aren't minorities.  Not only is it completely out of character for Havok and contrary to the themes of the X-Men, it comes across as insulting when you dive further in.  As the article points out, Havok is good-looking, tall, white, and most definitely able to "pass" as a non-mutant.  That's hardly the case for those with physical mutations like Nightcrawler or Toad.

    For those who have seen the second X-Men movie, you may remember a scene in which Nightcrawler asks the shapeshifter Mystique why she usually appears in her natural blue and scaly form, observing that she could simply live her life in disguise as a non-mutated person.  She replies that "we shouldn't have to".

    She identifies as a mutant.  She is proud of who she is.  And though she is technically a villain at that point in her story, her motivation is fighting back against a world that hates mutants.  And it's important to note that the heroes don't disagree with Mystique's and Magneto's goals of mutant equality, simply the tactics.  It's a shade of grey I've always found fascinating about the central X-Men conflict.

    So it's easy for Havok to say "Don't call me a mutant.  We're all the same".  Not that easy for others.  I really do recommend you read the full article, but I'll quote a couple other good parts:

    The speech leaves us to believe that Havok doesn’t want there to be any word that describes his minority identity. He’s not saying that he’s not just a mutant, but that “mutant” is not among the things he wants to admit to being.  That’s not a message of inclusion. That’s a message of assimilation. That’s a message of erasure.

    That’s not good policy for any minority group, even a fictional one that exists as metaphor. It’s not a position that any credible spokesman for a minority group would advance...

    No one is defined by their differences, but no one is denied them either...

    Visibility is a crucial component of equality...polls show that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. We would not be here if we hadn’t seen a massive shift in people’s acceptance of gay rights, and that happened because of visibility...

    As I and many, many others have said before, equality for racial minorities doesn't come from the majority group "not seeing race" anymore, it comes from getting everyone to recognize that systematic injustice and inequality between the races are very real, and then taking active steps to fix them.  While it may upset white people that non-whites are still talking about race, the fact is joining together oppressed minorities for action is just about the only thing that gets change to happen in this country.
    •  i think the best solution is to have an honest (0+ / 0-)

      convo about race. The play "Clybourne Park" illustrates this issue perfectly about the paradox of how we are in an era of civil rights and our first president of african extraction, while at the same time we live in an almost soviet era of censorship, when race is brought up.

      formerly demographicarmageddon

      by bonzo925 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:49:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another court ruling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    against capital punishment, this time in Oklahoma which certainly executes a lot of people.

    I do think a shift is happening here.

    •  Electorally there's a long ways to go, I think (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But perhaps not.  California's ban failed in 2012, after all.  On the other hand, if opinion changes as fast as Prop 8, then it might not be too long before it's gone from all but the red states.

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 03:44:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The California initiative (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        only failed 48-52.  That's quite different from the conventional wisdom that the death penalty is overwhelmingly popular, even in blue states.

        I think it's clear that something is happening since a bunch of states have banned it just within the past decade, after no movement since the 1970s.  Hell Colorado almost banned it legislatively last session in a narrowly divided chamber.  Almost every Democrat was on board.

        I think most of the deep blue states will ban it within the next decade.  Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York have all banned it recently.  In New York it was by court decision, so there's the same two-pronged (court and popular opinion) attack on it that also mirrors the end of same-sex marriage bans.

        I'm optimistic.  The immediate targets should be California, Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, and Delaware.  Then maybe Nevada and Colorado.

        •  I think it's definitely an improvement (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          from the high-crime 80s and early 90s.  A new generation of voters don't remember that era.  I use my dad as a barometer.  While he's a registered Democrat, he's more moderate than me, votes Republican occasionally (Arnold 2006, Steve Cooley for AG 2010, would've voted for 2002 Mitt Romney against Obama but disliked 2012 Mitt Romney).  Within the last 5 years or so he flipped on the death penalty and now opposes it.  I'm optimistic as well.  While it's not an important issue in the least for me, it's applied so unfairly that I can't support it.

          21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)

          Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
          UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

          by jncca on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 06:03:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  i think deportation should be an alternative to (0+ / 0-)

          life without parole. Life without parole sounds harrowing being in a cell your entire life and never seeing daylight. Why not just banish them from the us so we don't have to worry about them anymore?

          formerly demographicarmageddon

          by bonzo925 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:41:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Can we send Franklin Graham to Russia please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So if you want Sharia Law you should move to Iran but if you support Russian gay rights restrictions you can stay here?

    I'm not a huge religious person or fan of Billy Graham but man his message and brand has been hijacked by his son for downright evil purposes.... it's kinda sad.

  •  Far-right Ukrainian leader killed by police (0+ / 0-)

    Well here's an interesting development in the Ukraine power struggle.  A far-right nationalist leader has been killed by police.      The far-right is calling it a murder, but really it sounds more like a police raid gone wrong.  Definitely could create a rift between the more mainstream factions within the supposed Ukrainian interim government and the far-right faction.  

    Can't say I feel bad for Muzychko's death.  He was a vitriolic anti-Semite, anti-leftist and had been accused of many war crimes, including the murder of 20 captive Russian soldiers during the First Chechen War.  I'm interested to see how Kiev handles the fallout.

  •  Right now I'm just rolling my eyes (0+ / 0-)

    At the "lets take back public lands for Utah!" types in my state legislature, and my own state representative Ken Ivory being their leader. Everyone who has any sense knows that he wants to give up literally tens of millions of tourism money for one-time oil/gas extraction payments... which will then be used to fund his campaigns.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 03:39:55 PM PDT

  •  common core (0+ / 0-)

    what is it with the people I call "book burning" conservatives obsession with it?

    Indiana is one of the first states to repeal the law and that doesn't surprise me at all as a lot of the local republicans are of that variety.

    formerly demographicarmageddon

    by bonzo925 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 05:18:03 PM PDT

    •  Book burning? (0+ / 0-)

      How exactly is being against Common Core amount to "book burning"?

      Age 26, conservative Republican, beautiful WA Third district, WA LD-19

      by KyleinWA on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 08:02:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well (0+ / 0-)

        a book burning conservative type is obsessed with education as they see public schools as some type of indoctrination camp where students are to worship the un, federal government as some type of golden calf. By book burning, I mean they are the types who try to get books banned on topics they find inappropriate.

        formerly demographicarmageddon

        by bonzo925 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 08:29:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It happens on both sides with certain people. (0+ / 0-)

          It's not uncommon.

          It's just an overreaction we as a human race has against things we don't agree with. Instead of having a discussion about our disagreements, we just go straight to banning whatever it is we prefer not to talk about.

          22, Male, NC-02 home, SC-04 School. Majoring in Piano Pedagogy. Not your typical DKE junkie!

          by aggou on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 03:52:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The drumbeat is getting louder... (0+ / 0-)

    On the border between Russia and Ukraine. I'm still not convinced that Putin is crazy enough to invade the entire country, but he's certainly trying to make everything think that he is.

    There are a few possibilities I see with this:

    1. Russia invades and annexes eastern and possibly southern Ukraine, perhaps to the bank of the Dnieper (maybe not including east Kyiv, but who knows) while claiming eastern Ukrainians are members of the Russian nation and that they are "protecting" them from "Nazis" (but not the Nazis Putin likes, of course).

    2. Russia invades and attempts to reinstall Yanukovich as president of Ukraine or else obtain some sort of power-sharing agreement that reinstates Moscow's political influence in the Ukrainian government.

    3. Some combination of 1 and 2, although if Ukraine would actually remain an even marginally democratic country under such a scenario, removing not just Crimea but also the east would basically ruin any chance of a pro-Russian government in Kyiv ever being elected again.

    4. Russia invades and annexes all of Ukraine, or at least all but the westernmost parts of it.

    5. Russia does not invade, but wields its military buildup as a cudgel to obtain concessions from Kyiv.

    Breaking down each of these scenarios:

    In the case of 1, military victory for Russia is likely to be achieved swiftly, but the Russians are also likely to face rear-guard actions and guerrilla attacks, especially in the more ethnically Ukrainian countryside. The likelihood of this rises exponentially in scenario 4, with the added possibility of the Ukrainian military being able to hold out for long enough against the Bear that it both inflicts serious damage and whips up a blood feud between Russians and Ukrainians -- to potentially devastating effects on the civilian populace.

    In both of these scenarios 1 and 4, the international community will likely react very harshly with sanctions and perhaps with militarization of NATO's borders with Russia. I can imagine that if the Ukrainians slow the Russian advance into the western end of the country in the case of 4, Poland or another NATO country (or coalition) could even move forces in to protect Lviv, Rivne, and other western Ukrainian cities.

    A related possibility with either 1 or 4 is that Russia will attempt to link up with the separatist region of Transnistria in internationally recognized Moldovan territory. That would infuriate Chisinau and Bucharest -- and potentially encourage pro-Russian separatism in the Balkans and Caucasus as well.

    If I were a betting man, I'd say scenario 2 is the likeliest course of action if the Russians actually do invade. It's obvious Putin neither likes nor respects Yanukovich much, but if he was Russia's man in Kyiv before, think of how loyal he would be if Russia invaded the entire country of Ukraine to reinstate him. Especially after the damaging post-revolutionary disclosures about his wealth, corruption, and cruelty, Yanukovich is probably not well-regarded in Ukraine at all, and even Party of Regions supporters might prefer to see a new Russian puppet in place.

    Scenario 3 has a lot of potential pitfalls for Russia, but it also represents a way for Putin to have his cake and eat it too, both taking direct control of half of Ukraine and reasserting the remaining half as within Russia's sphere of influence. The main problem is that it would split Ukraine along a polar axis and hand Russia the bulk of the pro-Russia population, while leaving the rest of Ukraine a resentful, popularly anti-Moscow rump state. It would also probably deeply alarm former Soviet republics like Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan (the latter of which has actually begun the process of democratization) and push Ukrainians in the west further into the arms of Europe. It could also send a signal that Putin doesn't think he can hold the western and central provinces of Ukraine, thus weakening his hand vis a vis Yanukovich.

    I still think scenario 5 might be the likeliest, although I never like to underestimate Putin. Russia is basically holding Ukraine at gunpoint, and while it cannot expect Kyiv to agree to demands like "reinstate Yanukovich" or "abandon the EU Association Agreement", it can probably use that threat of force to ensure the Ukrainian government delivers on ideas Moscow favors, such as breaking Ukraine up into federal regions, definitively ruling out NATO membership, guaranteeing full rights for ethnic Russians, staying in the CIS, and maybe even agreeing to recognize Russia's claim to Crimea.

    Pragmatic progressive. Oregonian, Cascadian, and American. Keeper of the DKE glossary.

    by SaoMagnifico on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 11:21:29 AM PDT

  •  Number 1 Issue: Money in Politics (0+ / 0-)

    How do corporations keep politicians from working on climate change? Campaign finance and independent expenditures.

    We need to make a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United our number one priority. We should also work for immediate solutions, like Fair Elections, to circumvent the effects of Citizens United.

    Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. - Zappa

    by ThisIsProgress on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 01:03:34 PM PDT

  •  discretionary divorce laws (0+ / 0-)

    this is more of a state matter but I think that anything money related should not be the business of the state/courts but of the two parties involved.

    All too often, divorces turn into a blackmailing fest.

    formerly demographicarmageddon

    by bonzo925 on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 02:52:18 PM PDT

    •  The state will be involved no matter what (0+ / 0-)

      Because they are the party that enforces contracts. I really don't get the position of making it much harder for everybody to enter into marriage contracts and to dissolve those contracts.

      29, M, Swingnut, CA-38 resident. Chairman of the DKE Ginger Left-handed caucus. Huge Angels, Lakers, Bruins, Kings, Galaxy fan. Follow me on Twitter: @Artesialove

      by uclabruin18 on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:44:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the state would still be in charge of dissolving (0+ / 0-)

        contracts but that's it. Anything $$$ related would be settled between the two parties outside of court.

        formerly demographicarmageddon

        by bonzo925 on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:55:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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