Posts Tagged ‘diet’


There are some words that, in my humble opinion, should rarely, if ever, be used – the list is relatively short.  You can probably come up with them all on your own – the “n” word, the “r” word, the “c” word…I’m sure there are a few others, but suffice it to say, that these words are frowned upon because as a society we have realized that they are hurtful in more ways than just hurt feelings.

It seems that there are some in the health industry who would like to take a few more words away from your vocabulary – the most prevalent one being “moderation”.  Why do they want to take this word away from you?  Simply put, because it’s a crutch; an excuse for poor choices; it means different things to different people; and my personal favorite people are too dumb to know what moderation really means.

Andy Bellatti, a register dietician, recently wrote on the Huffington Post that “Everything in moderation,” is another way of unnecessarily and inaccurately equalizing all foods. It operates on the inane and utterly insane notion that peaches, Pop-Tarts, muffins, soda, lentils and tomatoes should all be approached the same way.


He goes on to imply that you, the public, are not intelligent enough to understand that three cups of mixed greens as part of a salad are not the same thing as three cups of chocolate pudding.

And that you are too clueless to realize a large Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta should not be consumed with the same frequency as unsweetened green tea.

And that you have no idea that eating a pint of blueberries in one sitting is very different from eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Hmmm…is that you?

Personally, I think most people actually do understand that.

Do you really think that three cups of mixed greens is the same as three cups of chocolate pudding?  If I were to say to you that you’re okay to eat chocolate pudding occasionally, as long as it’s in moderation, would you interpret that as “I can eat 3 cups of chocolate pudding every single day!”?

Do you, as many of these health experts believe you do, believe that drinking a 32 oz soda slushy is the same as drinking unsweetened green tea?

In your mind is eating a pint of blueberries the same as eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Now, Bellatti does have a point.  Ask 20 people what moderation means and you will probably get 20 different answers, but you can bet next week’s paycheck that the majority (and to be specific I’ll say 80%) of the answers will be lumped together like a giant bell curve, varying only minutely.

Perhaps Bellatti and those of his ilk are former food addicts in a past life and feel they must go to extreme measures to keep their past behaviors under control.  You know what?  That’s not fair, I don’t know him at all, but perhaps Bellatti and his followers simply need to do a better job of reminding themselves what “moderation” actually means and relearn that a moderate amount of food A is not is not going to be the same as a moderate amount of food B…

Here’s a little help:

noun: moderation
1.  the avoidance of excess or extremes, esp. in one’s behavior or political opinions.

synonyms: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance

Notice the synonyms?

I’m not a dietician.  I don’t even play one on TV, in part, well, because I’m not on TV, but I’m pretty sure that someone who has worked hard for their RD status can work with individual clients and help those who want to know what a moderate amount of chocolate pudding would be…it’s certainly going to be a significantly less amount, in both volume and frequency, than a moderate amount of salad greens.

…but of course, most of us already knew that.

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It’s that time of year again – New Year’s Eve.  It’s when everyone is coming down the homestretch of the Holiday Season – a time filled with plenty of food and drink, one last party and, for many, a lot of weight gain.  It’s also a time when people start to make resolution proclamations.

“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

“I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

And the masses then join a gym or buy some running shoes or “go on a diet”, all of which lasts a week, maybe three, and then it’s back to the same old same old.  By the time April or May rolls around, shoulders are shrugged and thoughts turn to “maybe next year.”

So what’s the problem?  And what, more importantly is the solution?  The problem is simpler than you might think.  The problem is not that people lack motivation, it’s that they lack education and guidance.


“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

or even

 “I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

doesn’t give you a well-defined goal, not even the more specific third one, because all of these goals are unspecific on how you want to get there.

The question anyone who is making a fitness New Year’s Resolution should be asking themselves really is, “what is my goal?  what is it that I truly want to achieve in terms of fitness/weight loss?”

“I want to get in shape” can mean so many things – what kind of shape?  at what cost?  The same can be said about “losing weight”.  There are all kinds of ways to lose weight, some are long-lasting healthful methods, some are…well, not.  Both can get one to a goal of losing weight and/or getting “in shape”; one can get you there rapidly, the other can get you there and keep you there indefinitely.

Once you’ve defined what it is you are actually trying to achieve, the next question becomes are you willing to change.  If you are trying to alter your physical make up for the better, undoubtedly, you will need to change some habits, and change can be hard.

That’s where it all falls apart every year for the majority of people.  An unfortunate result of our on-demand society is that we have become more and more a people who demand results immediately.  We then assume that if we don’t get the results we want immediately, that whatever we are trying must not work or must not work for us.

We start to make excuses –

oh, I’m just not shaped like that. 

oh, I’m big-boned. 

oh, I tried that and it just doesn’t work for me.

oh, it was uncomfortable.


Well, to be honest, for a small percentage of the population, that is true, HOWEVER, the overwhelming majority of people who use these excuses are simply unwilling to put in the time to change and they think, incorrectly, the excuses will make them feel better.  Now, before you jump on me for calling people lazy, please go back and note I wrote unwilling, not lazy.  Change takes sacrifice and sometimes people are unwilling to make certain sacrifices to achieve change – and that’s okay.  BUT, you have to realize that a choice has been made not to change.  Owning this choice instead of making excuses goes a long way toward inner peace and happiness.  If you can’t commit to change, then enjoy where you are and embrace it.  Mental health and inner peace is just as important as physical health/fitness.

Here’s the bottom line – hard work pays off; consistency pays off; a healthful diet pays off.  You put those three things together and your results are guaranteed.  For some, those results begin to appear on the scale and in the mirror within a week; for others, the visible changes don’t appear for a month or two, but something to realize is that the moment you make a change for the better, good things are happening inside you…immediately.

So is this the year?  Where to start?

The first thing I tell people is to start tracking what they are consuming.
You would be amazed just how much you actually consume throughout the day without thinking about it.  The mere action of tracking, truly committing to tracking you intake, will make you think twice about the variety of snacks that may cross your lips.

There are quite a few food tracking apps, but the two I found easiest to use are:

My Fitness Pal:


and Lose It!


The thing I like about their apps over others is that they are user-friendly, allow you to enter recipes and create meals, and have access to bar code scanning for easy input.  The apps also allows you to set weight loss goals over a period of time.  The apps though should be used as a guideline, not treated as gospel.  Once a week it’s a good idea to eat whatever the mouth and stomach desire.  One can’t live in a perpetual state of denial (meaning denying yourself “goodies and treats” – a topic for another post) without eventually feeling bitter.  The 90/10 rule works pretty well for most – for every 9 healthful meals, eat & drink something ridiculous!

The second thing I tell people is that they must perform regular physical activity.
This can come in many forms.  I have always found running to be the most affective, particularly for achieving physical fitness while pursuing weight loss, but physical activity can include swimming, biking, taking the stairs instead of taking an elevator, walking, even enjoying the company of your spouse or significant other (I know people get squeamish talking about sex, but it should be noted that a 150 lb person having sex for 15 minutes burns almost 75 calories – that’s nearly 300 calories per hour or the equivalent of a brisk walk or a 10 mph bike ride, but more fun).  The point is, there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life.

For those short on time, I did a little experiment this Holiday season.  Some of you may have heard of Tabata – it’s a method of exercise where you do a full body exercise for 20 seconds at 100% followed by 10 seconds of rest.  You repeat this cycle 7 more time, completing the exercise in 4 minutes.  It is intense and if you do it right, you pretty much want to throw up at the end of it.  It is effective, but it is not fun.  So doing a little research I came across HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  It’s actually been around a while, but I was so into my running I had not really checked it out.  The concept is to perform high intensity full body actions for a short interval, followed by a shorter interval of rest – it is similar to Tabata but not quite as intense.  Right before Thanksgiving, I decided to see if this kind of quick hit training could make a difference.  I chose to use the burpee as my full body movement of choice.  If you don’t know what a burpee is, click —>>>HERE<<<—.

I did five sets of 28 burpees with one minute of rest between sets.  Within each set I would do a 7-7-7-7  routine to mix up different kinds of burpee variations.  For those counting, that’s 140 burpees.  I was able to complete the routine in less than 15 minutes.  I did this 3 times a week and I purposely did not run during that stretch except on Thanksgiving (had to do a Turkey Trot – 3.1 miles) and on my birthday (ran 4.3 miles for 43 years).  That’s a total of 7.4 miles from November 22 to December 31 – essentially a non-factor.  So what were the results?  Despite eating my share of holiday food, less than 45 minutes of work a week allowed me to actually drop 4 pounds and lose a small percentage of body fat.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens when I bring running back into my routine tomorrow.

The third thing I tell people is get some proper sleep.
Sleep is when the body resets itself.  It’s when it heals.  A solid 6 – 9 hours of sleep is absolutely necessary for achieving good health.

Finally, I tell people to stick with it.
It’s hard when you don’t see immediate results.  I get that.  What I try to remind people is that change IS happening.  Slow change is more permanent, because your body and your mind are getting into habits that will stick.  Stay the course, believe in the program and you WILL be rewarded.

So is this your year?  Do you have a specific goal?  If you really want to change, make it a priority and stick with it until the end of March.  This is a trick of sorts though, because if you DO stick with a regular routine until the end of March, you won’t stop because the routine will have taken over.

Good luck with your 2013 health and fitness goals!

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So I keep hearing these commercials on the radio for special pills that will guarantee you lose “up to” 30 pounds in 12 weeks.  2 1/2 pound a week if you take their pill daily.  Just take their pill…it’s guaranteed.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Sounds easy don’t it?

Sounds too good to be true, right?


What is easy to miss while being mesmerized by the ad is that as a woman, you need to follow a strict diet of less than 1350 calories per day.

Guess what happens if you eat only 1350 calories per day (aside from being somewhat hungry)…you lose a little over a pound a week!  If you throw in a little exercise, you lose even more!

This is kind of like Mitt Romney saying his economic plan promises 12 million new jobs over the next four years…guess what?  Most independent economists say that 12 million jobs will be added back to the labor force no matter WHO is elected President.

…but I digress.

The bottom line is that smart, healthy weight loss must come at a price, and that price is a little sweat and a lot of discipline.  If you starve yourself in order to lose weight three things will happen:

  1. •You’ll be hungry.
  2. •You’ll slow your metabolism down which means you will burn calories at a progressively slower rate.
  3. •You’ll gain the weight back and more when you go back to eating the portions you ate before because of #2.

So what is one to do if not create a caloric deficit?

Here’s the thing – you DO want to create a deficit.  Although it is more complex than simply calories in vs. calories out, the basic principle holds true.  The key is to create the deficit while not starving oneself and slowing down the metabolism.

How?  There are three keys:

  1. •Proper diet – not a diet in the “I’m on a diet” sense, but rather an approach to food that gives you nourishment while making your body work to digest and absorb its nutrients – unprocessed and unrefined foods, lots of veggies and fruits, plenty of fiber.
  2. •Physical Activity – you don’t have to be a gym rat or a running fool (like me) to boost your metabolism through exercise.  Walking, jogging, biking, playing tag with your kids, dancing with your partner…60 minutes a day of some sort of activity is all it takes.  You can even break it down into 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc – get creative.
  3. •Sleep – this is often the ignored part of maintaining a higher metabolism and optimal health.  Believe it or not, 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day is a great way to burn fat.  There’s a lot of science that I won’t get into here, but the bottom line is that getting the required amount of sleep not only promotes fat loss while you are sleeping, but helps you avoid snacking on junkfood in the afternoon when you start to fade.

Don’t waste your money on the magic pills.  Their effect, in my opinion, is more placebo than any magic ingredient that gets your metabolism flying – and those that do?  Be careful about just what those ingredients are doing to your system.  1350 calories a day isn’t much. 1200 calories is the minimal amount of calories a bed-ridden woman needs simply to survive.  You get the picture?

Eat well, move 60 minutes a day and get some sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see what happens.

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There's an app for that...

Every New Year hundreds of thousands of people vow to change their ways, to improve themselves.  These “resolutions” come in all forms, but one of the most common is about weight loss and fitness.  My friend Greg over at Pre-Dawn Runner wrote a post recently about just these sorts of resolutions and why 90% of the time, people are bound to fail at them – whether it is over-ambition, too vague goals, or simply not knowing where to start, a lot of resolutions grind to a halt before they even get started.

One of the suggestions Greg had was tracking calories.  I have had many a friend ask me what they can do to get fit and lose weight, and I almost always reply with “running and calorie tracking”.

You may have heard of and rolled your eyes at the concept of calorie tracking, thinking, “I’m not going to be one of those people who counts calories”.

If you are, I want you to stop for a second and reread what it is I suggest and what it is you say you don’t want to be.

Go ahead…

Go back and read my reply and now read your response.

There is a difference, albeit one based on semantics.  What you call “counting calories” I call “tracking calories”.

I believe there actually is a huge difference between the two.

What’s the difference, you ask?

If you are counting calories, that implies you are keeping an eye on a certain number that you are allowing yourself throughout each day.  Every time you “count” a meal, you are subtracting that number from what you’ve been told your total for the day can be.  Each passing meal, snack, or beverage becomes something that you dread and in the end the joy of eating is taken away.  At that point, you probably give up on counting calories.

Now, if you are tracking calories, you are simply keeping track of what you eat.  As the days go by, you come to realize, based on the data you’ve collected, just how much you are eating.  You may find that some days you eat more, others you don’t, but eventually, you get to a point where simply start to make better choices because you know what’s in the food you are taking in.  If tracking the calories themselves seems too time consuming (though there are apps for that) take one step back and simply keep a food diary.

The concept of tracking calories or keeping a food diary isn’t about worrying and wringing your hands over every meal or snack, but rather to give you a picture of what your habits are – which then allows you to visualize making changes for the better.  As you make those changes, the proof is right there in front of you in both your notebook (or smartphone) in black and white, on the scale and in the mirror.

It’s a lot easier than you think!

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So, Martin “#2” Kessman is suing White Castle for discriminating against his 290-pound frame, claiming that, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, he is having his civil rights violated.  I haven’t seen one word yet about WHAT his disability is.  If Mr. Kessman is claiming that his sole disability is his weight and the accompanying morbid obesity, then I shake my head in utter disappointment.  In a world where people must deal with real disabilities, whether they be physical, mental or processing difficulties, how can a man who has chosen to eat his way into his condition have the nerve to claim a civil rights violation.

Kessman claims, “The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable – not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people. I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

Did he really compare himself, a man that as far as we know is simply overweight, to a pregnant woman or to handicapped people?  Really? (and Marty?  are you saying that handicapped people aren’t normal?  Careful Buddy.)

He says that he doesn’t like that he can’t fit into the booths of the White Castle he used to go to (more on that in a second).  He went on to say that not being able to sit in the booths was “extremely embarrassing [especially] to have to experience in front of a restaurant full of customers.”  He continues by saying that when he did try to squeeze into a larger seating area, he slammed his knee into one of the metal posts under the table and hurt himself.

Now, this is a man who has been eating White Castle burgers for over 50 years.  Supposedly he has been eating at the same White Castle since 1959.  I would imagine that back then, as a young man, he probably fit just fine into the booth style seating.  Wasn’t there some point in his life when he realized that maybe, just maybe the booths were getting a little tight?

But I want to get back to this quote from the New York Post, “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

This quote, or rather the intention of this quote is what is wrong with America right now.  When noticing that he was pushing beyond the maximum capacity of the booths, he could have taken different steps to remedy the situation.  Asking White Castle to remodel their restaurant is NOT one of them.  Anybody who reads this blog knows what Marty could have done.  But instead of taking responsibility for his lifetime of poor eating habits, he decided that White Caste had to accommodate him.  I don’t buy it for a minute that he was concerned for pregnant women or those with true handicaps.

I am a firm,FIRM believer that society as a whole should make an effort to accommodate those members that truly are disabled.  It is our way of showing that we value life, all life.  But when jackasses like Marty make a mockery of that compassion because they are lazy, I really get upset.  It cheapens the compassion shown to my baby girl; compassion that I am so grateful for.

My daughter Brooke works extremely hard to fit herself into the world around her.  To quote an amazing parent, she is a hair dryer kid in a toaster brained world (READ IT, IT WILL GIVE YOU INSIGHT).  It’s not easy for Brooke…ever.  Society though makes an effort to include her in their world, to accommodate her, and for that I am extremely grateful.  But my point is that we work very hard to make sure that she is returning the favor of accommodation by trying to do the same.

What accommodation has Marty made?  What has he done on his part to make things easier for the situation?

Marty loves his White Castle.  He just can’t say no.  In fact, despite boycotting going into the White Castle, he now send his wife  to  pick up the burgers and fries for him. He says his traditional meal is No. 2, which offers a little less bun and a lot more cheese. It includes two double cheeseburgers, medium fries and a small drink.
Good effort Marty.  Good effort.
This lawsuit, to me, is just as ridiculous as the mom who sued McDonald’s because she just couldn’t say “no” to her kids when they asked for a Happy Meal.
Both Monet (the mom suing McD’s) and Marty should try a little self-discipline.
Oh, and Marty?  Maybe along with cutting down on the number of times per week you have the #2, how about you try a little walk in the evening and adding some color to your meals (that’s vegetable NOT condiments).

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What are you eating?

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I’ve been thinking lately about diet, more specifically, about the fuel that we put in our engines to make them go.

I’ve always been pretty good about what goes into my body. The cravings I have, my wife tells me, aren’t normal. When I feel nudgy, I crave fruits, vegetables, maybe some nuts or left over salmon.  I realize that for most people, these cravings aren’t normal, but I would like to challenge what should be defined as “normal”.

There’s a series of commercials on TV right for a car company that I can’t remember that keeps stressing that we’ve been brainwashed into accepting the status quo of what car companies are producing, but HEY! Look at us, we’re breaking that paradigm and bringing you what you REALLY need! I think that train of thought can be brought into the discussion of what we eat.  There has been a certain amount of brainwashing that has been done to the population as a whole.  We have been convinced that snacks have to be potato chips or candy bars or candy bars.  What happened to the concept of an apple or an orange?

We all know the phrase, you are what you eat. I’d like to modify that phrase a little to say you feel like what you eat. That’s because, to a very large degree, if you put good things in your body, your body will feel good.  If you put crap in your body, you’re gonna feel like crap.  Plain and simple.  It’s pretty straightforward.

But hold on.  What qualifies as good?  and what qualifies as crap?  and what about the things that are in between?

That’s where things get hard.  It’s easy to say to people, “eat right and you’ll be fine” or “don’t eat unhealthy food or you’re gonna get fat”.  How does that help people?  Most people have no idea what eating right really, truly means.

For a lot of people eating right means severely restricting calories.  There’s a little bit of truth buried in that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not quite right.  For others, it means eating fat-free, sugar-free foods from the “health & diet” section of the grocery store.  I KNOW that’s not right.  And yet for others it means eating only things that taste like cardboard and taking the joy out of eating. THAT is definitely NOT right.

So what’s a person to do?

Two words:

Be.  Present.

That’s it.  For a lot of people, eating has become either this orgiastic festival of gluttony or a mindless process of excess.  Either way, there is a detachment that has happened that doesn’t allow your brain and your stomach to work together in concert.  By being present, you pay attention to what you are eating and how you are eating it.  Eventually, if you are aware of every bite you put in your mouth, you will realize that you are not hungry and will hopefully stop.

For those that can’t, there is then an extra step – the food log.  It takes a lot less time than you actually think – literally 60 seconds after every meal or snack.  You write down what you’ve eaten and note how you’ve felt since you last meal or snack.  For those who say I don’t have the time I say, Are you frakking kidding me? Almost every adult I know has enough time to check their email, post to Facebook or tweet on Twitter after a meal.  Guess what? You have 60 seconds to write down what you ate on your mobile device. There IS an app for that.

By keeping a log you will have the ability to go back and discover what IS good for you and what is not.  Every person’s bio-chemistry is a little different.  Yes, there are broad similarities that allow lifestyle diets like Paleo, South Beach and Blood Type to generally work for a lot of people, but in the final analysis, we are all individuals who don’t fit perfectly into that cookie cutter mold.

That is why by being present, you can customize your diet to fit the needs of your unique physiology.

I love spinach.  A lot of people eat tons of it.  Unfortunately for me, by being present I have come to realize that I can only eat it in smaller doses without it having an adverse effect on me.  Unfortunate that I can’t eat it in large quantities – fortunate that I can avoid unnecessary unpleasantness.

So, are you aware of what you are eating?

Are you present?

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Hush, Rush

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So Rush is upset that Michelle is eating a plate of ribs while on a skiing vacation.

Michelle is a hypocrite!  She should be eating nuts and berries!!! She’s trying to create a nanny state!!!

Oh, Rush.  Is this what you have become?  Is there where you have fallen to?

You dope!  Eating healthfully is not about any one meal, you idiot!  It’s not about one plate of ribs, you jack ass!  It’s not about always eating nuts and berries, you numbskull!!!

You know, although I consider myself to be one who leans mostly left, I believe – I truly believe – that the answers to our current state will have to come from the center – which means that there will be a little taken from the right and a little taken from the left.

You want to know why we are losing ground to the rest of the world?  Because the left AND the right are too busy arguing with each other and not getting down to the business of making things right for everyone.  FOR EVERYONE!!!  They are arguing and making political punch out of ribs.  A stupid, frakkin’ plate of ribs!!!

This is what Rush said:

Nice Rush, nice.  Obviously you didn’t listen to what the First Lady actually said or wrote – that her healthy eating initiative was about balance and moderation.  Anybody who does just the tiniest bit of research on diet and healthy life-style changes knows, KNOWS, that you never tell someone that they can only eat A, B, or C indefinitely and never anything else.  In fact, one of the best ways, THE BEST RUSH, to keep yourself on the track of balance and moderation is to let yourself indulge once a week.

You’re right about one thing.  Leaders should lead.  What are you doing Rush to get this Greatest of Nation’s waistline back under control?  Hmmm, let’s see, you’re saying that people don’t need help making good food choices, despite the fact that 68% of our population over the age of 20 is overweight, with half of those categorized as obese (CDC – January 2010). 68% Rush. SIXTY EIGHT PERCENT!!!  You right, Rush, people are making their choices just fine.

In all seriousness, it’s not like people need to be told what to eat on any given night.  I’m thinking that under ideal conditions, that busy parent,scraping by would love to cook a healthy meal for their kid instead of bringing home McDonald’s, but they either don’t know how to cook (because, you know, that class was taken out of the curriculum due to budget cuts) or the fresh ingredients aren’t available at affordable prices.  What this “Nanny State” you’re so worried about CAN do is help guide families and maybe shift where crop subsidies go so they can better serve our health.

And did you really say that Michelle Obama is a hypocrite because she doesn’t look like a Sports Illustrated cover model?  Really?  Can we take a step back from that one and let you think about what you said? No?  Okay.  Though I am one who truly believes that anyone, ANYONE (yes Rush, even you, your chins and your jellyroll), can change their shape for the better, I am also a realist.  Not everyone is blessed/cursed with an ample bosom or curvy hips.  To make women think that they can only be in shape if they look like Brooklyn Decker (love her by the way) is ridiculous and you know it.

What the hell is the matter with you?  What in the world happened to you, Rush? You used to be fun.  You used to be entertaining.  Now? Well, now you are just a sad old radio personality, hanging on, making weird, out-of-touch attempts to hold on to relevance.  You’re sounding more and more like a mean old man as opposed to the guy who, once upon a time, had at least the interest of the far right at heart.

Maybe it’s time for you to just hush.  Hush, Rush.

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