Thursday, May 29, 2014

#Snowden Jumps the Shark With NBC Interview - Updated

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Brian Williams of NBC is the first major network news person to interview Edward Snowden in Moscow. Reviews are mixed so far, but I think it's safe to say that a wider audience isn't going to work out too well for the ultra-spy-in-exile. The more he talks the deeper the hole, so to speak. As this interview was obviously timed to coincide with the release of Glenn Greenwald's book about Snowden, it may not have the boost in sales that they were looking for.

Snowden seems to be jumping the shark, although I'm sure the Libertarian Wikileaks Anonymous crowd will swoon over his sexy snake-oil voice and geek-martyr persona.

Previous Related Posts:
Snowden Can Make Himself "Unrecognizable"
Critics Go To War Over Sourpuss Glenn Greenwald's Book
All Hail the Snowden Pulitzer
Crime or Punishment? Snowden Remains Stuck in Moscow Airport
Snowden: Messages from Moscow
Edward Snowden Releases NSA Secrets
Edward Snowden: Hero or Villain


Selected Quotes from #InsideSnowden
. . . when they say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading.
I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas, pretending to work in a job that I'm not, and even being assigned a name that was not mine.
But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert. I don't work with people. I don't recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that at all levels from, from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top. Now, the government might deny these things, they might frame it in certain ways and say, "Oh well, you know, he's -- he's a low level analyst."
I think it's important to remember that people don't set their lives on fire. They don't walk away from their extraordinarily, extraordinarily comfortable lives for no reason.
I think the most important idea is to remember that there are times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes to do the right thing you have to break the law.
I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I've never met the Russian President. I'm not supported by the Russian government. I'm not taking money from the Russian government. I'm not a spy.
I personally am surprised that I ended up here. The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America, and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in the Moscow airport.
If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home.


UPDATE: One part of the interview has been debunked today by the NSA:

From the Interview:
Snowden: I actually did go through channels, and that is documented. The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of it – legal authorities. I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities. And I went even further in this, to say that they could be unconstitutional, that they were sort of abrogating our model of government in a way that empowered presidents to override our statutory laws. And this was made very clear. And the response was, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, ‘You should stop asking questions.’

The U.S. Government Replied today by releasing one email exchange from Snowden, which they say is the only one received asking questions of the General Counsel to the NSA:
Read Snowden's Email and NSA Reply Here

From ABC News:
The NSA said in statement that Snowden’s email “did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed.”
“There was no additional follow-up noted,” the NSA said. “There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.”
Snowden told NBC News that he also raised his concerns with his co-workers and superiors, many of whom he said were “shocked” at the programs he described. In December 2013, Snowden similarly told The Washington Post he brought his misgivings to four supervisors in two departments.
“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’” Snowden told the Post. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?”
In the Washington Post report, an NSA spokesperson said the agency had not found “any evidence” to support Snowden’s claims about raising concerns internally. Then, the NSA did not note the email it published online today.


Responses to #InsideSnowden


On Snowden's Persona


From Russia, With Love


Snowden Has Fans - "He's a Patriot!"


He's a Spy, Dammit!


What about Glenn Greenwald?


John Kerry's Opinion


What Does Snowden Watch on TV?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Isla Vista Shooting ~ Misogyny and Gun Lust (Just Like GOP)

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The Isla Vista, California, shooting was shocking not just for the senseless killing of six young people, but for the chilling motive of the equally young murderer, Elliot Rodger. In his "Manifesto," Rodger explains his vendetta against all the women who ever ignored or rejected him, as well as his anger at his three "irritating" roommates, all Asians, whom he stabbed to death. Rodger's egomania and Narcissism is evident in both his videos and his writing, and his hatred of women is creepy and maniacal.

It would be easy to just label him a mentally-ill Sociopath like many of the other shooters and just move along. But Elliot Rodger's attitudes are all-too-familiar for anyone who has followed politics since 2008. He basically shares many of the same values of the macho NRA and GOP: the #BundyRanch NRA neanderthals who gladly used women and children as human shields; the #OpenCarry movement that is pushing "Guns Everywhere" bills and invading meetings by the group Moms Demand Action; as well as the #TeaParty of Paul Ryan and Bob McDonnell who want to probe pregnant women with 9-inch wands and force them to have babies with rapists.

Heck, if Rodger hadn't burned out early, he could have been their next leader!

From New Republic
It’s time to call misogynist extremism by its name.
On Friday night, a young man went on a massacre in Santa Barbara that left six other people dead and seven injured. In the hours before the massacre, the suspect, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, had uploaded a video to YouTube titled “Retribution.” In this, and in a 140-page manifesto published online, Rodger claimed that he was going to prove himself the ultimate “alpha male” and take revenge on all the “sluts” who had sexually rejected him:
"Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge ... you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male.”

Transcript of Elliot Rodger's Last Video via San Jose Mercury News
You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime, because ... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

I will punish all of you for it. (laughs) On the day of retribution I'm going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB. And I will slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I've desired so much, they would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them (scoffs) while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes. I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.

You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male. (laughs) Yes. After I've annihilated every single girl in the sorority house, I will take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there. All those popular kids who live such lives of hedonistic pleasures while I've had to rot in loneliness for all these years. They've all looked down upon me every time I tried to go out and join them, they've all treated me like a mouse.

. . . You've forced me to suffer all my life and now I'll force you all to suffer. I've waited a long time for this. I'll give you exactly what you deserve. All of you. All you girls who rejected me and looked down upon me and you know, treated me like scum while you gave yourselves to other men. And all of you men, for living a better life than me, all of you sexually active men, I hate you. I hate all of you. I can't wait to give you exactly what you deserve Utter annihilation. (laughs).


SC Wingnut Todd Kincannon


Joe the Plumber

Samuel "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher Open Letter to Parents of Isla Vista Victims
I’m not talking here about the three tragic murders Rodger committed by stabbing before his driving and shooting spree; I speak now only to the families of the gunshot victims in Santa Barbara:
It’s a tragedy.
I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But:

As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.

Richard Martinez, whose son (Christopher) was among the murdered, choked back tears at a news conference, blaming politicians the next day: “The talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?” Martinez said – and much more.
There are no critical words for a grieving father. He can say whatever he wants and blame whoever he’d like – it’s okay by me. You can’t take a step in his shoes – at least I can’t.

But the words and images of Mr. Martinez blaming “the proliferation of guns”, lobbyists, politicians, etc.; will be exploited by gun-grab extremists as are all tragedies involving gun violence and the mentally ill by the anti-Second Amendment Left.

Snowden Can Make Himself "Unrecognizable" According to Greenwald

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Previous Related Posts:
Critics Go to War over "Sourpuss" Greenwald's Book
All Hail the Snowden Pulitzer
Snowden Evolves into Max Headroom
Edward Snowden: Hero or Villain?


According to the Greenwald-Poitras book about Snowden, the man can change his appearance like a chameleon. This has led to some levity on Twitter.

Book Quote Via Business Insider
While in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden claimed to be able to change his appearance such that he would be unrecognizable.
According to an excerpt Glenn Greenwald's new book, Snowden made the claim when discussing concern about leaving the Mira hotel without being noticed by reporters:
I conveyed these concerns to the lawyers. "Does he have any ideas how to prevent that?" one of them asked.
I passed the question on to Snowden.
"I'm in the process of taking steps to change my appearance," he said, clearly having thought about this previously. "I can make myself unrecognizable."

Via Instagram
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Critics Go to War Over "Sourpuss" Glenn Greenwald's Book

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Glenn Greenwald's book No Place to Hide was released this week. It's a regular cavalcade of details about the exiled spy - sorry, whistleblower - Edward Snowden, as well as the involvement of authors and Pulitzer winners Greenwald and Laura Poitras, plus the Wikileaks crowd. But Greenwald has run afoul of several book critics, for which he immediately lambasted them for the freedom of speech he says that Snowden is fighting for. Hypocrisy Much?

Critic Wars erupted, and as with all-things-Greenwald, people have to take sides.

Previous Related Posts:
All Hail the Snowden Pulitzer
Was David Miranda a Mule or a Journalist?
Greenwald Threatens to Spill UK Secrets
UK Detains Greenwald's Partner, Twitter Erupts
Define Spy For Us: Greenwald and Snowden
Greenwald Threatens America


The Guardian, which shared a Pulitzer with Greenwald and Poitras, had a mostly glowing review of the book. But of course they wish he had mentioned their newspaper more in the text because they validated and helped Greenwald when no one else would.

Henry Porter in The Guardian UK
I think the book does a disservice to my colleagues at the Guardian, which after all is established media. The author tips his hat occasionally but does not really acknowledge the importance of the seasoned reporter Ewen MacAskill's work in Hong Kong, or the team that assembled to sift the documents, decode their inner secrets, prioritise information, gain reaction, shape the stories and provide analysis.
It was one of the most impressive journalistic operations I have ever seen and without it Glenn Greenwald would have floundered and, indeed, have been dismissed more easily as an activist journalist. He has done a great job of exposition and advocacy and for that he should be praised, but credit should be shared.

Two reviews in particular seemed problematic for Greenwald mainly because they were NOT glowing and they questioned his motives. Please don't ever do that, reviewers! Criticism should not be critical, but should be left up to experts like Greenwald.

From George Packer in The Prospect
. . . It’s the only account we have by one of the main characters, an ex-litigator for whom prose narrative is another form of political combat.
. . . But the book’s greatest interest lies in what it reveals about dissent and the dissenter in an age when democratic institutions are in disarray. Greenwald and Poitras have a clear political agenda, which is why Snowden, with his deep distrust of the institutional press, chose them.
Greenwald has no use for the norms of journalism. He rejects objectivity, as a reality and an ideal. “‘Objectivity’ means nothing more than reflecting the biases and serving the interests of entrenched Washington,” he writes. “All journalism serves one faction’s interest or another’s.” This is hardly a new notion, but it’s also a destructive one.
. . . Greenwald and Poitras “vowed to each other repeatedly and to Snowden” that their actions would honour Snowden’s choice. So Poitras is outraged when the Guardian violates Snowden’s wishes by sharing his files with the New York Times, as if the Guardian were a vehicle for Snowden’s purposes. And Greenwald attacks the New York Times, which had received thousands of documents from Wikileaks, for highlighting Julian Assange’s troubling behaviour, as if the paper owed its source the benefit of clergy rather than its readers a full picture. Greenwald treats his source as inviolate.
. . . The sense of oppression among Greenwald, Poitras, and other American dissenters is only possible to those who have lived their entire lives under the rule of law and have come to take it for granted.

Excerpts from Now-Infamous and Scathing New York Times Book Review by Michael Kinsley
. . . Greenwald? In his mind, he is not a reformer but a ruthless revolutionary — Robespierre, or Trotsky. The ancien régime is corrupt through and through, and he is the man who will topple it.
. . . Greenwald doesn’t seem to realize that every piece of evidence he musters demonstrating that people agree with him undermines his own argument that “the authorities” brook no dissent. No one is stopping people from criticizing the government or supporting Greenwald in any way.
. . . What kind of poor excuse for an authoritarian society are we building in which a Glenn Greenwald, proud enemy of conformity and government oppression, can freely promote this book in all media and sell thousands of copies at airport bookstores surrounded by Homeland Security officers?
. . . private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences. In a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are), that decision must ultimately be made by the government.
. . . Someone gets to decide, and that someone cannot be Glenn Greenwald.
. . . So what do we do about leaks of government information? Lock up the perpetrators or give them the Pulitzer Prize? (The Pulitzer people chose the second option.) This is not a straightforward or easy question. But I can’t see how we can have a policy that authorizes newspapers and reporters to chase down and publish any national security leaks they can find. This isn’t Easter and these are not eggs.

Greenwald took umbrage with both Packer and Kinsley and wrote a scathing rebuttal - how can these reviewers be against him? How? They must be political tools for Obama:

Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept
. . . in a totally unpredictable development, Kinsley then used the opportunity to announce his contempt for me, for the NSA reporting I’ve done, and, in passing, for the book he was ostensibly reviewing.
. . . Kinsley dutifully tells Times readers that I “come across as so unpleasant” and that I’m a “self-righteous sourpuss” (yes, he actually wrote that). I also describe in the book how jingoistic media courtiers attack anyone who voices any fundamental critiques of American political culture; Kinsley spends much of his review deriding the notion that there could possibly be anything anti-democratic or oppressive about the United States of America.
. . . Reviews of No Place to Hide internationally (the book has been published in more than two dozen countries, in nine languages) have, almost unanimously, been extremely positive. By stark contrast, reviews from American writers have been quite mixed, with some recent ones, including from George Packer and now Kinsley, attempting to savage both the book and me personally.
. . . Do I need to continue to participate in the debate over whether many U.S. journalists are pitifully obeisant to the U.S. government? Did they not just resolve that debate for me?

Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor for the New York Times, agreed with Greenwald and published a rebuttal of Kinsley
. . . Here’s my take: Book reviews are opinion pieces and — thanks to the principles of the First Amendment — Mr. Kinsley is certainly entitled to freely air his views. But there’s a lot about this piece that is unworthy of the Book Review’s high standards, the sneering tone about Mr. Greenwald, for example; he is called a “go-between” instead of a journalist and is described as a “self-righteous sourpuss.” (I’ve never met Mr. Greenwald, though I’ve written about his work, as Mr. Kinsley notes.)
But worse, Mr. Kinsley’s central argument ignores important tenets of American governance. There clearly is a special role for the press in America’s democracy; the Founders explicitly intended the press to be a crucial check on the power of the federal government, and the United States courts have consistently backed up that role. It’s wrong to deny that role, and editors should not have allowed such a denial to stand. Mr. Kinsley’s argument is particularly strange to see advanced in the paper that heroically published the Pentagon Papers, and many of the Snowden revelations as well. What if his views were taken to their logical conclusion?

After her own motives (and sympathies for Greenwald/Snowden) were questioned on Twitter and in the NYT comment section, Ms. Sullivan rolled back her criticism of the critic somewhat.
I think there is no reason in this case to distrust Mr. Kinsley or to suspect that he did not read the book, digest its material and write a review based on his own judgment. As part of our editorial process, we made sure that Mr. Kinsley’s characterization of the work was backed up by material in the book itself. By that standard, the review was certainly fair and accurate.
To take on but one specific criticism of the review: At no point did Mr. Kinsley call Mr. Greenwald a sourpuss. The actual text reads as follows: “Maybe he’s charming and generous in real life. But in ‘No Place to Hide,’ Greenwald seems like a self-righteous sourpuss, convinced that every issue is ‘straightforward,’ and if you don’t agree with him, you’re part of something he calls ‘the authorities,’ who control everything for their own nefarious but never explained purposes.” For a reviewer to address how a writer comes across, particularly in a memoir or first-hand account, is entirely fair game for a book review, and by no means an ad hominem attack.

More critiquing the critics and their critics:

The Tone and Thought Police at the New York Times
Kinsley, truth to tell, is unkind to Snowden, and that is where the trouble begins. Sullivan thinks Kinsley’s “sneering tone” is “unworthy of the Book Review’s high standards.” Kinsley says, among other things, that Greenwald, whatever he may really be like, comes across as a “self-righteous sourpuss” in the book. Never mind that the New York Times would not have an op-ed section if sneering were ruled out of bounds. Although Kinsley gives us Greenwald’s own words to back up his assertion, it is too much for Sullivan, who apparently thinks that Kinsley should have found a way to indicate that Greenwald’s authorial voice is that of a self-aggrandizing blowhard without being insulting.
. . . Here, then, are the standards the public editor of the New York Times applies in investigating “matters of journalistic integrity” in the book review section.
. . . Reviewers who express views that, however plausible, are considered out of bounds by Times staff should be compelled to recant if they wish to get published.
~ Jonathan Marks in Commentary

Greenwald's haters, exposed
. . . both Kinsley and Packer at least give lip service to the idea that what Greenwald and Snowden have revealed is valuable and troubling. But in their predictable desire to distance themselves from the kind of fundamental and, yes, radical attack put forward by the NSA leakers, Kinsley and Packer are defending the national security state as flawed rather than corrupt, in need of reform rather than reconstruction. And if you think that sounds crazy, maybe you’re another Robespierre or Trotsky, too.
~ Elias Isquith on Salon

I predict that Packer's attitude toward Snowden will one day seem as absurd as someone insisting that MLK would be worthy of condemnation if he hadn't gone to jail, or that the activists who stole FBI files proving improper spying ultimately harmed the rule of law by never turning themselves in.
Like Michael Kinsley, another moderate liberal journalist who made dubious claims in a review of Greenwald's book, something about Packer's relationship to the establishment causes him to understate the radicalism of the international security state and to overstate the radicalism of its critics.
~ Conor Friedersdorf on The Atlantic

Monday, May 26, 2014

Scarborough Attacks #UniteBlue as Freaky Fringe Extremist Haters - UPDATE: Non-Apology-Apology

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"Morning Joe" Scarborough of MSNBC decided to launch an attack on the Progressive Twitter group #UniteBlue on Friday's show, and the members, including myself, did not take kindly to being called "fringe freaks" and "hate-mongers."

Even after the Unite Blue blog and countless tweets tried to set him straight about the group, Joe doubled down on Twitter. Maybe his real problem with us is that many Democratic candidates are joining to gain exposure and retweets, and it is helping them, especially in the South. We are the people who re-elected Barack Obama as President and ruined the nasty plans of the GOP. Sorry, Joe.

Unite Blue members are the most valuable demographic to most shows on MSNBC, and we haven't forgotten that Scarborough bragged that he helped get Martin Bashir fired for insulting Sarah Palin. Joe's pal, MSNBC Chief Phil Griffin, pandered to Palin when she got far-right Tea Party Twitter (#tcot) riled up, and Martin Bashir was thrown under the bus. But wait, Phil - isn't it the Dems and Obama supporters who are the entire "Lean Forward" Demographic?

Joe Scarborough, meanwhile, is leaning backwards and many liberals inside and outside of Unite Blue are calling for his resignation. Others just want Phil to make him apologize. I'm just glad to know how he really feels, and now we have it on the record.

Joe's Insult Via #UniteBlue Blog
“I could just take people who use the hashtag #UniteBlue and make a sweeping condemnation about America’s labor movement if I wanted to, but I don’t because I know that these people are on the fringes; they’re freaks; they’re hate mongers; that there are a lot of people who are in America’s union movements that are good, decent, hardworking people who actually would agree with me on a lot of issues.”

Response from Unite Blue:
After displaying his willful ignorance of normal, hardworking Americans, Joe Scarborough owes an apology to the mothers, fathers, retirees, millennials, activists, professionals and all other members of UniteBlue. Calling tens of thousands of good, decent people ‘freaks’ is a sweeping condemnation and makes you a hate monger.

Half a million Tweets per month use the hashtag #UniteBlue, more than #GOP or #TeaParty. It seems this has been getting under somebody’s skin. Nothing scares the Right more than a united Left, and its Joe Scarborough’s job to make progressive grassroots movements like UniteBlue look like a crazy, fringe group. That’s why he makes $100,000 per week while opposing a $10.10 per hour minimum wage.

Supporting unions and workers rights is not a fringe cause. This attack merely demonstrates how far the right has drifted, how out of touch Joe Scarborough has become with the mainstream, and how much the working class coming together scares certain people.

My Graphic that has gone Viral on Twitter:

Joe Strikes Back, Without Apology

Unite Blue Responds Again:

On Monday he started Back-Peddling Slightly
But No Apology

Change.Org Petition for MSNBC to Fire Joe

Politicus Petition to Make Joe Apologize

Open Letter from #UniteBlue to Phil Griffin:
Mr. Phil Griffin
President, MSNBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY
May 26, 2014
Dear Mr. Griffin:

Last Friday May 23, Joe Scarborough insulted thousands of honest, hardworking Americans who choose to organize under the banner of #UniteBlue, falsely alleging on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show that “these people are on the fringes; they’re freaks; they’re hate mongers.”

Mr. Scarborough owes an apology to the mothers, fathers, retirees, veterans, soldiers, activists, professionals and all members of UniteBlue. Calling tens of thousands of good, decent people ‘freaks’ is a sweeping condemnation and makes him a hate monger.

Half a million Tweets use #UniteBlue each month, more than #GOP or #TeaParty. Many of us are MSNBC viewers who were personally offended by these demeaning words and petty attacks. In response to the unprecedented outrage that resulted, Mr. Scarborough decided to double down instead of apologizing. This time he called each of us ‘extremists,’ and it’s really deeply offensive. Your entire network is being poisoned thanks to this behavior.

At this time, we are considering a number of petitions that have arisen calling for boycotts of Morning Joe and its sponsors. We have stood firmly against the promotion of hatred on the airwaves from others such as Rush Limbaugh, and cannot find any attempt on behalf of Joe Scarborough to move the political conversation forward meaningfully.

We respectfully request that Mr. Scarborough personally and publicly apologize for his comments on air and offer the opportunity for a UniteBlue representative to explain who we are; real people who want a voice in our democracy.

UPDATE: Joe Issues Non-Apology Apology

Via Unite Blue
“I brought it up on Friday… I brought up UniteBlue, and I could find people in UniteBlue who said some terrible things about me over the past two, three, four years, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great people in the union movement, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great vets and great people in UniteBlue, that there aren’t great people in these organizations… Don’t we at some point realize that there are some people who will try to associate them self [sic] with a bigger group and say hateful things that shouldn’t be associated with the labor movement or UniteBlue?” Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe, 5/27/2014.

While this was not the full-throated apology that thousands requested, this display of respect is a promising first step, and we will continue to hold him accountable when political commentary devolves into disparaging and divisive attacks.
Now it’s time to move forward. We must continue to fight against the conservative politics of hate, division and fear, and once again affirm the audacity of hope, compassion and love.
Thank you to everyone who joined in our efforts this weekend. Way to go #UniteBlue!


Now Joe is blocking #UniteBlue members.
He can dish it out, but can't take it.

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