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A First Step For Government, a Semi-Giant Leap for Labor

Left Over - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 09:05
Liberal government moves to repeal controversial union laws Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk meets reporters on Parliament Hill at 10:15 a.m. ET

CBC News Posted: Jan 28, 2016 10:08 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 28, 2016 10:13 AM ET



What Pierre Trudeau did to labor in the past,with his so-called wage and price controls,  has now been somewhat neutralized by his son, Justin, and it makes a big difference to organized labor, in particular.
By stopping such revisionist legal twisting and thrashing, set up as an opening salvo against organized labour by Stephen Harper, the Federal Libs have instantly given themselves a whole bunch of extra support they might otherwise have lacked.
But it isn’t enough…most wages and benefits  need to be increased, or, where they don’t exist,  p[rovided for, and  foreign ownership/corporate control  of businesses needs to be tightened up.

Infrastructure repairs and construction are the real way that the Canadian economy is going to grow and improve…if you are old enough, you can remember that Canada once had one of the highest standards of living in the world..housing was economically available, and working meant that you had a comfortable life. We weren’t serfs in our own country…

Corporate types will instantly start whining about  loss of profits etc (a recent report  showed that they  are sitting on  billions and billions, usually squirreled away in tax shelters…)  That will be amusing, I’ll get the popcorn ready….

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 06:58
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Miliband offers his take on inequality and the political steps needed to combat it:
(T)he terms of the case against inequality have changed. I have always believed that inequality divides people, deprives many of the chance to succeed and makes us all worse off. But now there is good reason to believe that inequality isn’t just unfair but that it actually inhibits economic growth. ‘Widening income inequality is the defining challenge of our time,’ the IMF announced in a report last year: ‘We find an inverse relationship between the income share accruing to the rich (top 20 per cent) and economic growth … the benefits do not trickle down.’ Last May, the OECD published a study entitled In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All. All this makes it possible for us to talk about equality not only in terms of fairness, but also as the means to prosperity. The UK is deeply unequal and has an unproductive economy when compared to its major competitors. There are good grounds for thinking the two facts are connected: a low-wage economy, which doesn’t invest properly in its workforce, is an unproductive economy. The mechanism that links low growth to inequality is still debated: some say that low wages for the majority cause low demand and low growth; others say that the social exclusion of a large segment of society has a depressive effect. But what is clear is that inequality must be tackled not just because it is important to distribute resources fairly but also in order to secure higher growth, from which everyone can benefit.
(F)inally, there is the question of how political change happens, and how to mobilise the millions of people needed to bring it about. Labour must make use of the opportunity afforded it by the remarkable number of new members it has gained since the general election. But it also needs to acknowledge the challenge it faces. The party emerged from the traditions of community organising, and some local Labour branches are now rekindling that spirit. To succeed, the party needs to be about more than knocking on doors, crucial though that is, and the passing of resolutions. Labour needs to use its expanded membership to build deeper roots in local communities, and to help people find the collective power to change things. In a way I didn’t manage, it needs to reinvent itself as a genuine community organisation.

This is a tough time to be a progressive in Britain, with the re-election of a government that seems determined to dismantle the progressive institutions that remain and to make inequality worse. Labour’s renewal must be built on ideas, the most underrated commodity in politics. Ideas create and sustain movements and inspire people – and indeed voters – to join a cause. The right can’t solve the problem of inequality because to do so would be to abandon too much of what they believe, from a belief in the small state to trickle-down economics. The deep injustices of modern capitalism compel us to find a better way of living together. The left should approach the coming years with a determination to renew itself but also with confidence in its values.- And Ally Foster reports on a panel discussion on the erosion of the middle class in Canada.

- Derek Leahy discusses the Libs' plans to include upstream emissions as part of the environmental review process for pipelines. But Mike De Souza notes that the Libs are already falling behind on international climate change reporting.

- Meanwhile, the list of the Cons' damage in need of repair continues to grow. On that front, Kady O'Malley notes that their changes to elections rules may have enabled third parties to engage in unlimited robocalling, while BJ Siekierski reports on the wide range of Statistics Canada data gathering which was scrapped for no apparent reason.

- Finally, Laurie Monsebraaten writes about the push for Ontario to lead a national movement on child care, rather than settling for wage subsidies as the upper limit of public action.

More On James Forcillo

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 06:40

H/t Toronto Star

In response to yesterday's post, both the Salamander and the Mound of Sound offered some interesting commentary. The Salamander has experience in dealing with troubled and armed youth, as you will see, and The Mound has had careers both in journalism and the law. I am therefore reproducing their respective observations below:
.. the slow motion process of the Forcillo trial re the killing of Sammy Yatim has come to a temporary junction point. the toronto newstalk jocks can't get enough of expert opinion, so called public sentiment & various views from officialdom. In the past I described my own experiences, to the estimable Mound.. wherein I was called upon to deal with emotionally disturbed teens, drug addicted teens and triple maximum security juveniles.. I was never armed by the way.

Sammy Yatim was troubled, delusional & psychotic.. 1/2 of a collision looking for the other 1/2 .. that's very clear via video evidence, medical history & post mortem toxicology. He was 'out there' .. 'crispy' & as likely to try and swim to Rochester as he was to confront a dozen armed police.

But the killing is really about fearful Forcillo, a known hothead cop who'd pulled his gun a dozen times in 3 years. So lets keep the event very very concise, shall we? Most anyone has seen the various videos of Sammy Yatim's last moments & is aware of Forcillo's 'defense'.

Of course I'll paint it in a slightly different light.. as I've been there, done it, got the t-shirt.. dealing with delusional drug addled teens.. with a weapon.. and nobody died!

Forcillo and his female partner arrived on scene as a seemingly damn cool TTC driver gave up and left his streetcar. 'Taking charge' .. so to speak, Forcillo confronted the teen from a close but safe distance, shouting profanity laden 'orders' as his memory challenged partner holstered her weapon.

In the midst of numerous armed cops beside and around him, Forcillo feared for his life, such was the threat of knife wielding Sammy Yatim, up there inside a streetcar. Really now? Armed cops standing on either side of him, behind him, at the rear doors etc.. and Forcillo thought the teen could fly like a witch and get to him from the streetcar, without descending the steps & covering the 10 foot gap to that crowd of armed cops?

Forcillo exemplifies 'failure' .. the 'fearful' defense is so limp that its to laugh at.. but the Force must close ranks. In reality I suspect other cops curse Forcillo on a daily basis. The idea that his 'training' was to do what he did in approx 50 seconds of disastrous failure is to laugh at. Somewhere right near the bottom of the Toronto Police hires in the last 5 years is Forcillo.. a weak link deserving to drive a desk.. maybe in data entry or vehicle maintenance.. To let him deal with the public, much less ever own a gun again would be a travesty.. Amen, end of story.
I'm not satisfied the judge handled the case correctly either, Lorne. The judge issued revised instructions to the jury after they had deliberated that, to me, sounded bizarre.

The whole theory of whether this was one or two shooting events was confusing. The coroner testified about the nature of the wounds inflicted at the outset, when Yatim had been standing, contrasted with the subsequent wounds from bullets that struck a prone victim. Wound paths are readily traceable.

As I understand it the forensics suggested the initial three wounds were mortal. Yatim would have died without more. How then to treat the next five wounds? The Crown chose to treat that as attempted murder.

In firing squad executions is the coup de grace administered after the initial volley a separate event? I don't see it that way. It's collateral to the first shots.

I think an appellate court might order a retrial. I suspect that better Crown counsel might rethink the prosecution theory and look beyond the 5-second pause.

If, as the video suggests, Yatim collapsed with the first shot, were the second and third really justified? Was the first shot warranted unless Yatim made some clear move to exit the streetcar such as stepping into the stairwell? That, to me, was the obvious threshold to the "self defence" business.

I think the Crown may have muddied the waters and left the judge to deliver an incoherent, confusing charge to the jury. Were I sitting on the appeal I think I would set aside both verdicts and direct a new trial.

Recommend this Post

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 06:28
Here, on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's decision (PDF) finding that the failure to provide equal child services for First Nations is a human rights breach which requires federal action at law - rather than merely a moral failure which has too often been ignored.

For further reading...
- CBC reports on the decision, while Neil Macdonald places it in some context
- Tim Harper goes into more detail as to the history of discrimination given wider exposure by the decision. And I'll point again to Murray Mandryk's take on the lack of social resources facing La Loche and other communities.
- But in case we needed immediate evidence that a finding of discrimination will still leave plenty of people to be convinced that there's any problem to be solved, Jen Gerson belittles the decision and apparently the concept of human rights tribunals in general. And Scott Gilmore argues that the only solution is to push the residents of remote communities out of their homes, rather than making any effort to build healthy lives where they already live.

His Base Instincts

Northern Reflections - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 05:20


Stephen Harper lost the last election because he catered to his base. He made the niqab a big issue and it backfired on him. But, behind the scenes, the same instincts that drove Harper to demonize the niqab also shaped his position on Syrian refugees. Stephanie Levitz, of the Canadian Press, reports:

Newly released government documents paint the clearest picture to date of how the Conservative government’s controversial approach to Syrian refugee resettlement played out last year.

Before last winter, the previous government had only committed to take in 1,300 Syrian refugees from the millions fleeing the civil war there and spilling into surrounding countries Former prime minister Stephen Harper had been under intense pressure — including froinside his own cabinet — to increase that total, but only agreed to accept a further 10,000 provided that religious and ethnic minorities were prioritized.
The vast majority of Syrians are Muslims. If Harper wanted to allow only religious and ethnic minorities into Canada, it's clear that Harper's minions were cherry picking the population for Christians. His base wanted nothing to do with either Islam or Muslims, even though that policy flew in the face of United Nations policy:

The refugees the Canadian government accepts for resettlement are chosen by the UN. They do not use ethnicity or religion as a basis for determining whether someone requires resettlement to a third country.

But documents tabled in the House of Commons this week in response to a question from the NDP show how the Conservatives found a workaround.

In February 2015, visa officers in Jordan and Lebanon were instructed to track “areas of focus” for Syrian refugees, which included tracking whether someone was a member of a vulnerable ethnic or religious They applied that criteria to the files they were receiving from the UN.
There was a reason we lost our seat at the Security Council. At the UN, they knew that Stephen Harper catered to his base instincts.

Stephen Harper, the Harper Cat, and the Latest Porky Scandal

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 03:40

As you know I have been frantically searching for Stephen Harper all over Canada and the United States.

And I've even adjusted my missing wanted poster to reflect how he looked when he was spotted outside a Shake Shack in Las Vegas. 

With a weird smile on his face, several days of stubble, and a baseball cap pulled down over his nose.

But so far no luck.

And no sadly this was not him...
Read more »

Good Samaritan's Remorse

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 23:04
There were plenty of warm, fuzzy feelings for western European nations as they threw open their doors to a horde of refugees fleeing the hell on Earth of modern Syria. It's now turning out that some of those nations weren't quite the Good Samaritans we imagined.

Sweden has announced it intends to expel upwards of 80,000 asylum-seekers from the 163,000 who arrived in 2015. Where do you dump 80,000 people who have no place to go?

In neighbouring Denmark the government passed legislation authorizing the state to confiscate the valuables of refugees entering the country.

The Greek migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, claims his Belgian colleagues urged him to simply push arriving migrants back into the sea.

Meanwhile Britain's future in the European Union hangs by a thread even as Hungary and Poland embrace far rightwing nationalist populism.

Clarity On Rona Ambrose

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 16:03
Ed Tanas helps shed some light on the temporary Tory leader and chief resident hypocrite (competing with Tony Clement for that title, of course).

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"The Good of the People Comes Before the Law." The Bullet We Dodged?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 11:47

Thanks to the Supreme Court of Canada we never had to learn how far Stephen Harper would have been willing to go in indulging his authoritarian instincts had he not been held in check.

Harper came to power on two promises. He would deliver transparency and accountability. He immediately reneged on both. False flags don't come much clearer than that. He used omnibus legislation to deny accountability and iron fist secrecy to utterly thwart transparency. It was on the scale of diabolical.

During Harper's minority, when the Liberals stood flummoxed and the NDP were mainly focused on finishing off the Liberals rather than fighting Harper, and especially during Harper's majority, Canada's democracy was defended by the final steninel, the Supreme Court of Canada. It was the SCC that refused to allow an authoritarian prime minister to run roughshod over our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Oh how Harper and his minions railed at the arrogance and audacity of the Supreme Court justices who upheld the Charter, again and again and again. Peter MacKay even acknowledged that his coven introduced legislation that they knew offended the spirit and probably the letter of the law, always hoping to push the boundaries of constitutional efficacy.

What they were up to, Harper's Holy Grail, was to weaken liberal democracy, the essence of which is a framework of constitutional laws that limits government power and affords a legal means to curb its excesses. What they strived for was illiberal democracy.

What might have been, who knows? However it's hard not to look at the plague of nationalist populism spreading through Europe without getting a few chills. Liberal democracy is not doing well in parts of post-Soviet Europe. Fascism embedded within illiberal democracy is on the rise. First it was Hungary. Now it's Poland.

After eight years in office, the liberal Civic Platform (PO) was cut down to size and banished to opposition. while Poland’s left did not even make it into the new parliament. All this despite the fact that while in the period 2008-2014 Poland’s accumulated growth was 28 per cent, the EU’s growth at that time was 2.5 per cent annually.

Sound Familiar?

Instead, more than 50 per cent of those who voted (about half of the electorate), opted for change. Just 38 per cent handed a victory to Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s national conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) and, for the first time since the transition to democracy in 1989, a single party could form a government in Poland.

However, after Kaczynski absented himself from a campaign that pushed moderate slogans and reasonable faces, it is clear that that PiS and its leader misled the electorate.

Within weeks, this new government has attacked the very basis of the liberal democratic order and its institutional check-and-balances: the constitutional tribunal.

Fearing that Poland’s highest court might declare some new legislation unconstitutional, the PiS has introduced laws that render the tribunal powerless. It has allowed for political appointees to head the civil service at all levels and made the public media directly dependent on government. Independent prosecutors will soon be subjugated to the minister of justice and the whole justice system will be overhauled.

There is much more of this to come. And it will come quickly. Jaroslaw Kaczynski holds no government position but, as leader of the PiS, he enjoys the undivided loyalty of his followers and of the new president, Andrzej Duda, who obediently follows the PiS party line.

As Poland’s real leader, Kaczynski has declared that he wants to follow the example of Hungary’s Victor Orbán and his model of “illiberal democracy” with the primacy of political will over the law. During a recent parliamentary debate, a statement that “the good of the people comes before the law” was met with a standing ovation by the PiS majority. Several bishops have declared that “natural law” and morality comes before the constitution.

The Poles have become a deeply divided society, a bellweather of wedge politics so instrumental to illiberal democracy. No one knows what lies ahead but there's a growing fear of violence and the eventual isolation of the Polish state, quarantined by its fellow EU states wrestling with their own demons of nationalist populism.

Really, We're Supposed to Lament the Passing of PostMedia? We'll be Worse Off For It?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 10:01

A moderately well known political pundit, sometime newspaper columnist and blogger recently lamented the approaching demise of the PostMedia group of newspapers of a sort.

I don't begrudge him his lament. Papers of that quality are, after all, the genre that occasionally fed him as he so regularly reminds us. Did you know that, in an age long past, he actually worked for a prime minister too? Yeah, that one, the prime minister who handed Stephen Harper the throne thanks to that sponsorship scandal. Oh well, bygones, bygones.

What I found a good bit disingenuous about his kid glove treatment of PostMedia was his scolding of those who can't quite bring themselves to tear up at the prospect. We don't appreciate, he claims, how the loss of a newspaper is an assault on our democratic liberties which, logic would suggest, means the collapse of the whole rotten lot must surely consign us to the bilges of tyranny. We are unworthy of his like.

There's a problem with this fellow's argument. It's not true. History tells us as much. It's not the presence or absence of newspapers that matters, many in number or few, that matters nearly so much as how they're owned and controlled.

In the 30s, Germans never lacked for newspapers. Those newspapers didn't stop a certain movement's rise to power. A good many of them abetted that and, afterward, there was no shortage of ink carrying the Fuhrer's message either even to the end. There are many similar examples from other places at other times of this very same phenomenon.

Of course today it's more than newspapers. It's TV and radio also and the internet. SUN TV is blessedly gone but let's take its American idol, FOX News. Does anyone imagine that American democracy would be dealt a body blow if the management, cast and crew of FOX instantly disappeared from the face of the Earth, Raptured up if you will? Would America be left with a more poorly informed electorate less capable of exercising their democratic franchise? I'm just not feeling it.

There's even less room for bad journalism these days. The advertising bucks, they ceaselessly remind us, are spread too thin what with people seeking real information from other sources, electronically. Boo-hoo. Sorry, I'm still not tearing up, not even a little. Maybe it's the duct or something.

The thing is I go online to get what I can't get from PostMedia. I go to get reliable information. PostMedia, which massively dominates the print media in my part of the country, long ago figured out that they could replace information with something else. Messaging became their stock in trade. Let's call it information with one of the legs shortened. You get the idea.

Do I fear the passing of PostMedia? Not in the slightest. Yes there will be jobs lost, dislocations but that happens in every failing industry.  I will admit that I would be delighted to see some of their more phobic ranters where they belong in a new life, sitting in their rockers on the front porch yelling at the Future to get the fuck off their lawns.

I like to cook, especially for others. It doesn't happen often but, every once in a long while, I'll discover something went very wrong. Maybe the cream was off, something like that. When that happens I don't try to fix it, mask the rancid ingredient. I just throw it out and start again. That might be a useful approach when it comes time to dispose of PostMedia.

Not A Moment Of Humility Or Uncertainty

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 08:02
I have avoided writing about the semi-acquital of Sammy Yatim's killer, Officer James Forcillo, partly because it sickens me when miscarriages of justice occur. Adding insult to injury is his lawyer's attempt to get his conviction for attempted murder stayed
...because Forcillo “substantially followed his training,” which was provided by the state.

“The state,” he said, “should be disentitled to a conviction because they . . . provided the training to him.”
Even more upsetting is the reaction of the police union, which you will see in a moment. But first, I'd like you to take a look at a clip about an execution perpetrated by the Cleveland police three years ago; especially offensive is the reaction of their union which, as you will see in the second clip, has some eerie echoes of Toronto police union head Mike McCormack's comments on Forcillo's conviction.

MsCormick laments that it sends a chilling message to front-line officers, as well it should. Unfortunately, the real message they will not refuse to process is that when they violate their oath to serve and protect, they will be held accountable by the state, however imperfectly.

Humility, not police outrage, would be the proper reaction in both the Cleveland and Toronto cases.

Recommend this Post

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 06:51
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Clarke discusses the challenges facing social movements trying to resist austerity and push for action on poverty in the face of mushy-middle governments who lack any commitment to those principles. Simon Wren-Lewis reminds us of the harm already done by anti-government ideology. And Crawford Kilian makes the case that governments should be wary of trying to cut out the "fat" which may be necessary for a healthy public sector. 

- Tim Harper examines the significance of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's finding that the underfunding of First Nations child welfare services makes for actionable discrimination. And Murray Mandryk notes that last week's shootings in La Loche made for just one predictable tragic outcome from a history of neglect. 

- Jeremy Nuttall talks to Hassan Yussuff about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and finds that the government pushing yet another corporate privilege agreement has no answers as to what it's supposed to do for workers. And Thomas Walkom writes that the Libs seem to be following in the Cons' footsteps, while Derrick O'Keefe wonders when we're supposed to see the full and open debate on the TPP that the Libs promised during the election campaign before deciding they'd sign on without further analysis.

- Patrick Fafard and Steven Hoffman offer their suggestions for a new federal health accord centred on the social determinants of health.

- Finally, Ole Hendrickson comments on Canada's plutocracy and the morality of extreme wealth.


Dawg's Blawg - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 05:55
Another signifier detaches from its signified and floats off past the horizon. The mural that has exercised Paul Bronfman is shown above. In it, a bulldozer is starting its work on some olive trees. It happens all the time on... Dr.Dawg

"The Ocean, If It Wants Us, It'll Come And Take Us"

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 05:54
So says a bemused victim of climate change in California. Jaw-dropping and chilling is how I would describe this, yet another reminder of our powerlessness in the face of nature:

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Ghosts From The Past

Northern Reflections - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 05:38

"History doesn't repeat itself," Mark Twain wrote, "but it rhymes." This week, in the House of Commons and in Quebec, politicians were replaying golden oldies. Susan Delacourt writes:

Here was interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose, for example, telling reporters on Monday why people in the West were getting fired up about Energy East.

“I’m hearing from Albertans, and from people in Saskatchewan, that this is just like the (National Energy Program),” Ambrose said at the Monday news conference. “That’s what they say. That this is just like back in the 80s when the last government … put strict measures in place that deflated the Alberta and Saskatchewan and British Columbia economy, that affected the resources sector.”

And Denis Cordere, the Mayor of Montreal and a former Liberal MP, was channelling separatist ghosts from the past:

Though Coderre is a federalist, on this issue he’s on-side with Quebec separatists, who have cast the Energy East pipeline as an unwanted intrusion by the rest of Canada into the province — kind of like the 1981 Constitution.

“Independence is also being able to say no to a pipeline,” a spokesman for Parti Québecois leader Pierre-Karl Péladeau said last year about Energy East. “Like all the other bad decisions taken by the government in Ottawa.”
The reason one studies history is to avoid the mistakes of the past, not to repeat them. But, when we exorcize ghosts we may well repeat those mistakes.

Rona Ambrose and the Not So New/Nouveau Harper Party

Montreal Simon - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 02:38

Ever since she was elected interim Queen of the Cons, Rona Ambrose has been claiming that they are the new/nouveau Cons, not the shattered remnants of the Harper Party.

But now that Parliament has returned that is turning out to be just another Big Lie.

With the Cons trying to turn our Parliament into a fascist circus again.

By attacking the Liberals like bats out of hell...
Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 19:45
Snoozing cats.

Justin Trudeau and the Erasing of the Harper Legacy

Montreal Simon - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 14:41

As you know I really like this image of Justin slowly but surely demolishing Stephen Harper's foul legacy.

And today he took another step in that direction. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau​ says his job is to look out for Canada's best interests and not act as a "cheerleader" for various pipeline projects as the previous Conservative government did.

And since now we know for sure that the National Energy Board can't be trusted to enforce safety or environmental regulations. 
Read more »

Burning the Wrong Witches

Dammit Janet - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 11:27
Too exhausted from trip to Florida to move mother to assisted living to blog, but just had to report this.

Sure is tough to be a rightwing “pro-life” full-of-bull propaganda machine these days. On Monday, we learned the sleazy jizz rags behind the “gotcha” videos of Planned Parenthood doing “crimes” to “baby parts” have been indicted in Houston, Texas, for being the real crimers, ACTUALLY. And we laughed and chortled and guffawed and feminist fist-bumped and happy-danced naked in our living room and said, “That’s what you get, motherfuckers!” And it was good.
Too tired to happy dance, but I did chortle.

This is simply delicious.

And it happened in TEXAS.

Less Than Meets the Eye. The National Observer Deflates Kevin O'Leary

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 10:36

ISIS O'Leery???

There are some things you can pretty much assume with a blowhard. One is that, beneath the pomposity and bluster, there's a different story - call it "reality."


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