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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
December 31, 2019

The Beat Goes On

“More, Bolton had a series of conversations with both Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper about the folly of the White House's Ukraine operation. Apparently, all three were aware of the dangers of such an operation, and attempted to convince Trump it would backfire on him. Pompeo waivered at important times, due to his lack of backbone. Clearly, the military aide to Ukraine was not released until two days after the administration learned the whistle-blower's concerns were going to be made public. “
H2O Man; Texas Radio & the Big Beat; Democratic Underground; November 9, 2019


Back in 2004-05, members of the Democratic Underground recognized that a fair amount of the information posted within the infamous “Plame Threads” would be reported in the mainstream media in the days and weeks to come. Those discussions, in my humble opinion, made DU the most valuable internet forum, and attracted numerous new members. It also resulted in members of the mainstream media reading those threads.

I was glad to see the New York Times report on the meeting that Bolton, Pompeo, and Esper had with Trump, telling the president that he needed to release the funds for the Ukraine. In some later comments on other OP/threads, I had stated that the three administration officials had sought to meet together with Trump, but admitted that I was unsure if they had been able to, or had individual meetings with the president. While I knew it had been a group effort, I was unable to confirm that the single meeting the Times documented had taken place.

Nevertheless, I think that it still shows that DU can provide news” before the mainstream media does. And that remains one of the many reasons DU remains my favorite internet forum.

Happy New Year!
H2O Man

December 31, 2019

The Turtle & the Salmon

“Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace. There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States. “
Salmon Portland Chase, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

Chief Justice John Roberts is said to be preparing for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. This includes reviewing the rules and traditions of the Senate, it also involves studying the role of the Chief Justice in the two previous trials of US presidents. Let's take a stroll back in American history, and see two very different examples that Chief Justice Roberts is considering.

President Bill Clinton was impeached in late 1998, and his Senate trial was held between January 7 and February 22, 1999. It has been documented that the outcome had been agreed to by party leaders before the trial started. Hence, Chief Justice William Rehnquist accurately sums up his role in this quote from a letter to his friend: “I did nothing in particular, and did it very well.”

Providing irrefutable evidence that a Chief Justice can be a petty brat, Rehnquist also wrote, “...the trial is in one sense an unwelcome burden …..I have been relieved of none of my duties here at the court.” In 1999, he told Senators that, “"I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court to what I shall call, for want of a better phrase, the more freeform environment of the Senate." These quotes are taken from the following article:


That is one potential. It is interesting to compare this to the role of Chief Justice Salmon Chase one hundred thirty one years earlier. I've been looking at Chase's role in the impeachment trial, and some of his career. There is not much about him in the books on impeachment that I started collecting in 1974. So I looked through some other history books, and have found some. I plan to do more research on the internet.

Chase was recognized as a liberal in those times. He was experienced in serving in both of the other branches of the federal government, as a senator and as President Lincoln's Treasury Secretary. He had also served as a Governor. His interest in political parties seemed fluid – in large part because he wanted to become president – and there are mentions of him being a Democrat, before helping to form the Free Soil Party, and eventually a republican.

In his earlier years of practicing law, Chase was an outspoken opponent of Slavery. He represented “run-away slaves” in northern courts. He advocated that all people had the right to vote, no matter their sex or race. He sounds like the complete opposite of Rehnquist.

During the trial of President Andrew Johnson, Chase played an active role in determining what evidence – including witnesses – could or could not be introduced in the trial. He also ruled on a number of procedural issues. He refused to allow senators to turn the trial into a circus. A number of senators were unhappy with Chief Justice Chase during the trial, but knew he would walk out if they didn't honor his rulings. Yet, history tends to indicate that the senators reached the correct verdict. Hence, Chase's role can be viewed as setting precedents that Roberts can and should follow.

At this point in time, we can only speculate if Roberts will conduct his role like Rehnquist, like Chase, or somewhere in the middle. Yet it could be his role that decides the eventual outcome of the trial. If John Bolton testifies -- or not – will be a huge factor in determining the outcome. Hopefully the decision on if Bolton testifies isn't allowed to be decided by Mitch McConnell. If the Democrats can't get four republicans to joing them on this, Roberts will do the right thing.

H2O Man

December 24, 2019

Merry Xmas

Below is a message from a powerful e-mail I received today from “Bend the Arc.” A link to their website is included beneath.)

In April, our community was shaken by another violent antisemitic attack at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. Tragically, the shooter who murdered Lori Gilbert-Kaye (z”l) also claimed responsibility for arson at a nearby mosque.

In response, 100 Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist faith leaders shared a new prayer for America:

Listen, America.
Out of many voices,
We rise as one.
We mourn with one voice those lost.
We grieve the white nationalism that threatens us all.


It seems curious to me that millions of Americans will celebrate the birth of an infant in the Middle East today and tomorrow, without connecting the fable to the children separated from their families along the border in the southwest. Most peculiar. I favor those of various faiths and of no faith who recognize that all esoteric teachings relate to the here and now – this moment of life in the universe – rather than some imaginary eternal vacation on Pleasure Island. They communicate lessons on being Real People, rather than organic material puppets that are easily led astray.

I was fortunate that my first mentor was an atheist, the son of a Southern Baptist minister, who had studied Islam in his early adulthood. Although an atheist, Rubin was well-versed in the religions of the world, and the teachings of numerous philosophers. As a young teen, I had rejected the Catholic church that I had been forced to attend since infancy. Thus, many of our conversations had to do with the Hurricane's suggesting that I not mistake a church for what is Truth.

As the years went by, these conversations reached a higher level. A person can only learn, Rubin assured me, that which is at their level of understanding. He adhered to what is known as “Liberation Theology,” which although often associated with modern-times' Jesuits in Central America, is actually ancient. Just as the ability to grasp higher meaning is rooted in the context of the individual, the teachings of various educators must be placed in similar contexts.

A great example of this would be Aesop, who history records as a slave living on the Greek island of Samos. His actual name is lost to history, and he is thus known by a variation of the land he was stolen from, Egypt. As a slave, his teachings had o be “hidden,” meaning that his “fables” – much like Jesus's “parables,” had to be contained within symbols accessible to his culture. Hence, Aesop is have said to use animals in symbolic teachings, not unlike Rubin's friend Malcolm X did in his preaching.

Some teachings lie just beneath the surface, thus making them relatively easy for most people to grasp. Yet there can be confusion when an old lesson is taken from that early cultural context, and taught without consideration to its true meaning at a much later and very different time. And this is the unfortunate circumstance with the nativity story that is so common today. In Jesus's time, an unmarried teen-aged girl becoming pregnant was frowned upon. This concept certainly continued throughout the mainstream Christian era. As a youngster attending church, I was taught by people who had zero experience in a healthy sex life that God might send us to an eternal hell for enjoying sex outside of marriage. He loved us that much.

Those who would create the nativity story well after Jesus had died were simply attempting to communicate a basic Truth: all babies come from the Divine. It doesn't matter what status their parents held. This includes those babies that come from poor families, who are rejected by “proper” society, who might be born in a stable, or held in a cage on the Mexican border. Indeed, Ephesians 1:19-20 states that the spark within each of us is the same mighty strength found in Jesus.

As Gandhi said, many of the most important Truths from the gospels were damaged when Christianity went West. Gandhi understood how symbolism was an essential part of esoteric teachings. In that context, we can best understand part of Gandhi's last Christmas message to a group of Christian friends and associates: “Living Christ is a living cross; life without Christ is living death.”

I am convinced that those of various faiths working with Bend the Arc for social justice get it.

H2O Man

Merry Xmas (War is Over) by John & Yoko and the Harlem Community Choir
December 21, 2019

Hot Water

 “George Washington is said to have told Jefferson that the framers had created the Senate to "cool" House legislation just as a saucer was used to cool hot tea. “

Many of us are happy, because daylight will begin to be longer now. However, for Donald Trump, the concept of the beginning of “longer days” has a very different meaning. His presidency has been stained in 2019 by impeachment, thus insuring that he belongs to an exclusive club in our nation's history.

Before we consider what 2020 holds for Trump, it may be useful to put this into context. The 2008 presidential election was fast approaching. Since 1988, when he wrote to Bush the Elder saying he would be willing to serve as his vice president, Trump was intent upon entering national politics. In 1998, he responded to an interviewer on national television, saying John McCain was “no hero,” because “he got caught.” In 2000, he filed to be considered as a candidate in the Reform Party. By 2008, as a member of the republican party, he resented McCain being the nomine

Now, let's take a brief look back at a conversation Donald had with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in October of 2008. Speaking of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said, “I was surprised that she didn't do more in terms of Bush and going after Bush. Which personally I( think would have been a wonderful thing.”

“To impeach him?” asked Wolf.

“”For the war,” Trump responded. “For the war! Well, he lied. He got us into the war with lies!”

Perhaps Trump should have listened to his mother when she said, “Be careful what you wish for.” Maybe he assumed she was speaking about her marriage. But now, as forum member dlk noted, he has the entire holiday season to stew over the situation he is currently in.


Trump's future depends upon Mitch McConnell and Senate republicans. Many people are worried that Mitch's public statements about aborting the impeachment trial as quickly as possible are an accurate preview of process. And they may be right.

In a discussion here yesterday, regarding why – if Senator Schumer expects at least four republicans to join Democrats in calling for witnesses to testify – things are not moving ahead quickly? That's a good question, a valid question, one that admittedly calls for speculation no matter how one answers it. Thus, my opinion is exactly that – mere speculation – and thus of no more value than anyone else's.

The House impeachment hearings were the hot cup of tea that Washington spoke of. From my admittedly non-objective point of view, the republicans put on an emotional shit-show, and avoided dealing with facts. For rage is their language, and hostility drips from every republican's tongue. No one in the Senate wants a repeat of that in the trial. A quick move to end the trial would avoid that, at least in theory, and is surely one thing McConnell is considering.

But it isn't the only thing. For doing that would create an environment where the Democratic Party would be energized in the 2020 elections, and no intelligent politician purposely motivates the opposition before elections. Especially not one concerned about elections that could remove him from his comfortable and coveted leadership position. More, those republican Senators at risk in November of 2020 – likely among those that Schumer is in communications with – most likely want to have more discussions with the other republicans about how to proceed.

Despite the nonsense we hear publicly from McConnell, which is clearly directed to an audience of one enraged fellow, it is safe to assume that some degree of negotiating is going on in DC. The noise we hear on the surface hides what is going on outside of public view. And that includes between both parties in the Senate, within each party, and definitely between our House and Senate leadership, and their legal team.

While McConnell certainly prefers a shorter trial for obvious reasons, and may actually bring it to a premature end, it is also possible that he will negotiate with his party members and Democrats, and that we will hear from at least John Bolton in the trial. The best thing we can do at this point is to exercise our Amendment 1 rights, by contacting Senators from both parties, and insisting upon a fair trial.

H2O Man

December 20, 2019

Democratic Manifesto

I know that I'm not the only Democrat who was singing John Lennon's classic 1969 song during the breaks in the debate last night – for my son who was watching the debate with me joined in once, in a failing attempt to keep me on key. Older forum members will recall that Lennon wrote the song for Timothy Leary's run for governor of California against Ronald Reagan. Others may be familiar with the 2019 release of the Abbey Road album, featuring an outtake where Lennon adds the line, “He got teen-aged lyrics ...”

I was impressed and encouraged by all of the Democratic Party's candidates last night. I'll be delighted to campaign and vote for the eventual nominee for president. There were several candidates who I believe would provide balance to the ticket as vice president. And that balance will insure that we beat whoever the republicans run for president in 2020.

The only thing that I was unhappy with was when candidates attacked another candidate. Yet, in some instances, another candidate would point out that this was not why they were there. It's good to point out the areas where you may differ from other candidates, but do so respectfully. In the powerful words of the Civil Rights movement, keep your eyes on the prize.

The only thing, quite literally, that could prevent a Democratic Party win in the presidential election is divisions within the numerous groups that comprise the party. By no coincidence, that was the exact goal of the Russian attacks upon our system in 2016, and their 2020 goal. For that is the “prize” that they are eyeing.

It is not only our candidates that have to keep this in mind. It is the people who are engaged in campaigning for a specific candidate. It is everyone at the grass roots' level who is aware of what is at stake. We are in a position now, at this tense time in our nation's history, to not only take the White House, and to maintain control of the House of Representatives, but to take control of the Senate. But that requires – indeed, demands – that we keep our eyes on the prize, and recognize that this requires a united democratic front.

Let's consider, briefly, but one example. There are differing opinions on how to improve health care. That is a huge issue. There are different opinions on medicare for all versus improving Obama care. What seems clear to me is that if we keep our eyes on the prize – which implies building upon the Obama coalition – we will be in a position to make the correct improvements.

Thank you for your consideration,
H2O Man
December 19, 2019

DU Sing-A-Long

Okay, sorry. But he calls it a witch hunt.

December 18, 2019

Take 18

The Court: So you contend the Executive has unlimited power in time of an emergency?

Assistant Attorney General Holmes Baldridge: He has the power to take such action as is necessary to meet the emergency.

The Court: If the emergency is great, it is unlimited, is it?

Baldridge: I suppose if you want to carry it to its logical conclusion, that is true. But I do want to point out that there are two limitations on the Executive power. One is the ballot box and the other is impeachment.

Last night I had an interesting phone call from an associate who has long been active in social-political issues. He said that watching the day's congressional hearings, he felt as if he was caught in a nightmare that combined The Twilight Zone with random scenes from Benny Hill. We discussed the dangers of republicans insisting that Trump's Ukraine actions were perfect, rather than he made a serious mistake that does not warrant impeachment.

The above quote is taken from the USSC case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co, v, Sawyer, commonly known as the “Steel Seizure Case.” The case was about President Truman's efforts to seize private property. This action by the unpopular president brought about an effort by republicans to try to impeach Truman – the second but much more serious effort upon their part – which was resolved when Truman recognized the Supreme Court's authority.

This is but one of several examples of when the Congress opted not to impeach a president, because he recognized his error, took responsibility, and made clear he would not overstep the constitutional authority of his office.

This, of course, is distinct from the current conflict. Republicans think they are obligated to support Trump's claim his actions regarding Ukraine were “perfect.” Thus, as he said yesterday, he insists he has “zero” responsibility for the scandal that has resulted. It is evident that he will continue to engage in the same types of abuses of power and contempt of congress if he is not impeached and convicted.

This raises a simple question: are the republicans purposely violating their oath of office and lying to the public, or are they they so ignorant and stupid that they believe that they are doing the right thing? Not that either option is acceptable, in my opinion.

Today, one republican actually compared the impeachment of Trump to the trial of Jesus. The closest thing to reality I could come up with in response is that the republicans are attempting to crucify the Constitution. They babble about impeachment being an effort to remove a “legitimately elected president.” Obviously, the Founding Fathers intended impeachment to deal with presidents who were elected. They threaten that future presidents – meaning Democrats – will surely be impeached. If any president violates their oath of office like Trump clearly has, I'm good with impeaching him or her.

I'm not good with any person who seeks to give Trump license to continue to run the Oval Office like a petty mobster. No matter what the result of the Senate trial, it is evident that the 2020 elections are going to be the most important in modern history. We need to remove as many of the brain-dead republicans as possible.
December 17, 2019

Speaking of the Unspeakable

“The world is full of great criminals with enormous power, and they are in a death struggle with each other. It is a huge gang battle, using well-meaning lawyers and policemen and clergymen as their front, controlling papers, means of communication, and enrolling everybody in their armies.”
Thomas Merton; November 17, 1962

Yesterday morning, I started an essay on the two situations that resulted in failed efforts by House republicans to impeach President Truman. This marked the actual dawn of the modern impeachment era, often mistakenly assigned to Nixon's presidency. However, as I was writing, I had numerous phone calls, e-mails, and texts on a couple other related topics, which resulted in my setting the original theme aside for the time being.

Most of the people I spoke with were experiencing a combination of excitement and anxiety about tomorrow's scheduled vote to impeach Trump. How would the republicans attempt to disrupt the vote? I suspect we have already witnessed their mode of disruption. Will “at risk for re-election” Democrats vote to impeach? In our district, the communications I've had in the last 24 hours confirm our Representative is solid.

Still others express concerns about the pretrial statements from various republican leaders in the Senate. As “jurors,” it is obviously wrong for them to say they will vote against conviction before the trial. Clearly, no prospective juror would be seated in either a criminal or civil trial if they made similar statements. It would seem that U.S. Senators should be held to a similar standard. Is it really too much to ask of them?

I've noted before that some republicans, including Lindsey Graham, have been suggesting that the Senate compromise and agree to censure Trump. This should come as no surprise, as Graham has a long history of totally compromising his values. So much so that one could rightly ask if, at long last, he has any values? I think not. Thus, I'd suggest that the republican stance of “don't confuse me with facts, as my mind is made up” is the type of pretrial negotiating that defense lawyers do. Surely, Graham views himself as Trump's deense lawyer, attempting to cut a deal.

At this point, there appear to be at least four – possibly as many as seven – republican Senators who would like to hear from those closest to Trump during the Ukraine scandal. There are four administration officials that the Democrats are intent upon having testify. While all are important, there is general agreement that John Bolton is the most important. Keep in mind Bolton's attorney has said that there is much more that Bolton knows that hasn't been uncovered.

People were also discussing the two Articles of Impeachment. Should there have been more? My response remains the same as the day the Articles were made public: while I might have wanted more, I have 100% confidence in the Democratic leadership and their legal team. I am fully satisfied that they reached the correct decision.

Tomorrow will be a historic day. I look forward to talking with family and friends – I just had a call from a relative as I was writing this – as well as communicating with others on the internet. Perhaps most of all, I look forward to participating with people on this forum!

What to do between now and then, and in the time before the Senate trial? I know that I'll be reading and re-reading books on impeachment. Also, I'll be reading the works of a variety of men and women who spoke about living through intense eras of history. Indeed, I was happy yesterday to engage in a conversation that one of my nephews began yesterday, that included myself and two others, regarding Thomas Merton.

Enjoy the next 48 hours.
H2O Man

December 14, 2019

Trump & the USSC

“Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in. “
== Harry S. Truman

I've enjoyed reading some good discussions regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's plan to hear the appeal by Trump regarding his taxes. A number of people think the current USSC will decide in Trump's favor. I understand their thinking, of course, but think that the ruling will go against the president.

We are obviously at a strange time in history, but it is not unique. There have been tense and dangerous times, including since the Civil War. And while the USSC is imperfect, it has been helpful in maintaining constitutional rule in general. And it has not proven to be a firwall to protect corrupt presidents. Let's take a closer look.

The best example of a corrupt president attempting to build firewall is, of course, Richard Nixon. And the USSC was not his only attempt to protect himself. Like Trump, Nixon was recognized by even his closest associates as a pathological liar, so we can safely rule out his considering the Truth to protect him.

His first attempted firewall was named Spiro Agnew. Boomers remember that John Ehrlichman and Nixon privately laughing about Agnews being “the assassin's dilemma.” Of course, Tricky Dick wasn't the only corrupt member of the administration, and Agnew was forced to resign at an inopportune time for Nixon.

Thus, Nixon had to consider who would offer the best cover in order to allow him to serve out his second term. He picked Rep. Gerald Ford, a man who didn't appear to be either a leader or deep thinker. Yet, Nixon overlooked that Ford was considered a friendly, generally honest fellow by his peers. Thus, Ford would replace Nixon.

The second firewall Nixon attempted to create was an intense effort at major changes in foreign policy. Historians still debate who was more influential in this – President Nixon or his Secretary of War Crimes Henry Kissinger? But that isn't the first thing we think of when Nixon's name comes up in conversation.

The last firewall for Nixon was the USSC. Nixon had appointed four justices to the court before push came to shove. Again, Boomers remember that Nixon had nominated four others who were rejected. So it is fair to say that Nixon had not stacked the court in the exact manner he may have hoped to. There is no greater example than Warren Burger becoming Chief Justice.

In the USSC case United States v. Nixon was heard in 1974 (not to be confused with Nixon v. United States in 1993), Nixon believed he had a chance. In private, he told associates that he hoped for at least a split-decision, as he did not intend to follow a divided court's ruling if it went against him.

One of the Justices, William Rehnquist, recused himself. This was NOT because Nixon had appointed him, but rather, because he had served as an Assistant Attorney General in the administration. The other three Nixon appointees remained on the bench for the case.

Nixon's final firewall crumbled under the weight of the Truth. Perhaps no other thing was more offensive to the USSC than Nixon's attorney James St. Clair having previously argued to Judge John Sirica that, “The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.”

That sounds familiar, although Trump has the gall to insist he isn't subject to the court of impeachment. We'll see how that works out for him.

December 13, 2019

Bluster's Last Stand

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Clive Staples Lewis

I found myself thinking of the above C. S. Lewis quote while watching today's House committee hearing. I find it beneficial to have some saying to repeat like a mantra while listening to republicans spouting utter nonsense and outright lies. Earlier in the week, I thought of Michelle Obama's saying that “when they go low, we go high.” Yesterday, I began thinking about why the Trump base has been so hostile to the best First Lady of my lifetime, and something clicked in relating to the hearings.

There are good Democrats who ask, in all sincerity, what good it does to impeach Trump, since the Senate is most likely going to find him guilty? And might that not harm the chances of some of the Democratic House members to win re-election? Those are valid questions that I think are worthy of serious discussion among Democrats.

In the context of impeachments, it would be silly to think that elected officials do not think of personal position, party, and country. Indeed, the republicans clearly see this in that exact order. But patriotic people view it in the opposite order: nation, party, and then personal position. We are seeing that daily with the Democratic members of Congress, and if their presentations are not making you mighty proud to be a Democrat, I don't know what could.

Being impeached will place a stain on Trump's presidency. That is a good thing. While the odds are against the Senate republicans putting our country first, I still think it is a possibility. Yet even if not, it stains Trump's place in history. And I respect that House Democrats are doing the honorable thing.

Now, back to Michelle Obama, long one of my favorite human beings to think and talk about. Why do those of the Trump base despise her? Because she is a woman? Black? Much more intelligent and successful than them? Because she was married to a man they still believe was born in a foreign nation? The first three are obvious, but the last one is worthy of consideration.

To understand this more fully, I attempted to identify the thinking of those who are watching the House hearings, and think the republicans are winning the debate. I keep in mind that these same people approve of Trump's asinine tweet about a 16-year old female today, completely unaware that this served to expose his anger that she was named Time's “Person of the Year.”

The Democrats on the House committees that have held public impeachment hearings represent Americans, I think more than at any previous time in our history, because they reflect what Americans are today. Many of them are women. They are not all white. They are intelligent, and know the Constitution. And a number of them were born in other countries, coming to America at a young age with their families. In other words, they are everything the alt-right fears and hates.

I've been alive for a long time. I've seen a heck of a lot of members come and go in the House of Representatives. And I've read a good many books on the House from before I was born. There have been numerous Representatives that I have a high regard for. And some terrible human beings, as well, such as Newt Gingrich. But I have never been as impressed with the Democrats as I currently am. I'm thankful that I've lived long enough to see this day.

I should add that I have the utmost respect for the witnesses to Trump's corruption that came forward to testify. That took courage.

I'm going to be contacting the offices of the House Democrats, and thanking them. And I will let them know that – no matter what happens in the Senate – I will be working to elect Democrats in 2020.

We often hear people talk about the risks of America turning into a dictatorship under Trump. I take that very seriously. I view it largely in the context of “systems.” What type of people enable a cruel dictator to rise? I'd say we are seeing the answer when the republican representatives aggressively and indignantly attempt to justify Trump's behaviors. Let's remove as many as possible in 2020.

H2O Man

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