Good goddamn job, Jeff!

Les AuCoin

Our new man in the U.S. Senate has some cajones! Senator Jeff Merkley has joined Dodd, Leahy and Feingold on a bill to roll back the grant of immunity to telecommunications companies involved in W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

Beyond putting himself in the company of three of the Senate's best, he's showing that he understands the putsch against our freedoms, and is working to counter it. So what if it won't pass? I'm goddamn tired of D's who won't do what's right because "doing right won't pass." (That's right, I'm callin' you out, Max Baucus!)

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Hey, I posted this. For some reason, my name wasn't attached. (In the spirit of full disclosure...)

    Les AuCoin

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    Fixed! Be sure to select your nameon the pulldown menu!

  • (Show?)

    A textbook liberal move, love it!!!!!

  • Steve (unverified)
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    While we're at it, lets roll back Cinton's pardon of Marc Rich. Then we can start looking at amendments to the Constitution we don't like. Let's unpardon Dick Nixon too while we are at it.

    I think you're opening a can of worms here.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    Awesome. Who knew the Bill of Rights still had some meaning beyond guns.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    That's how it's been since the anti-war movement gave Congress back to the Democrats in 2006: Years of selling out the American People, broken up by little symbolic gestures - little moments of doing the right thing. The noble bit played well as a minority party, but it's harder to sell now that the Dems are in charge.

      Tell the soldiers stuck in Iraq what kind of cajones it takes to do this. And the most annoying part will be the bragging later on the campaign trail. Gestures aren't going to be enough to fool the public next time. And as far as this telecommunication immunity bill where Democrats in Congress rolled over for President Bush, what's that old country song: "It's a little too late to do the right thing now"?
    
     Especially if you're not really doing the right thing - just talking about it.
    
     Are you really saying that a politician deserves congratulations for even symbolically standing up for the privacy of American citizens? Isn't that a pretty tragic standard? Are we supposed to hand out a thank you plaque? Have we sunk so low in our basic rights not to be spied on by our government, that this passes for a reason to be grateful?
    
     We're now supposed to be thrilled that a senator "understands the putsch against out freedoms"? Sorry, but is that really enough to excel in Washington these days? Rejoice, Oregonians, we now have a senator who realizes that spying on Americans is wrong. My 4th grade social studies class would have understood this.
    
  • Alex T (unverified)
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    Democrats with "cajones..." such a novel concept.

  • blackandblue (unverified)
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    Les cusses like Richard Nixon -- he knows the words but not the music.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Here's another way to say it that gives Democrats in Congress a little more credit for brains: They all knew the surveillance was wrong. They weren't all wandering around saying, "I sense there's a problem here but I just don't understand what."

     They also should have known Bush began his programs BEFORE 9/11 so they couldn't have even pulled the "9/11 changed everything" excuse.
    
     The reason the Democrats in Congress went along with this is that they did not want to offend the corporations.
    
     Les is spinning this like some great riddle that Merkley had a breakthrough on. Les is saying it's great to see that Merkley understands what happened to our freedoms here.
    
     That's not it at all. They were all taught this stuff in school. They all knew it was wrong.
    
     They just ignored it and sold out the American People rather than challenge their corporate clients.
    
  • Steve Buel (unverified)
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    Congrats to Jeff all right. Now, Jeff, let's stand up on torture, Iraq (out now), solar energy and electric cars, corporate abuses, wasteful spending (military too), dumping NCLB, making college affordable, cleaning up the rivers, and straightening out our justice system. Les, call me when he does.

  • Jel-N (unverified)
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    This is just a trial lawyer lobby play that is not gutsy in the least because it is just the Democrats attacking big corporations again (yawn). The gutsy play is to go after the administration officials personally. If we are going to advocate a bill that won't pass let's go all the way.

  • (Show?)

    This is about the most bizarre comment thread I've seen on Blue Oregon. Bill, have you forgotten that Merkley was in the OREGON legislature when the wiretaps were approved?!

    Les, thanks for pointing this out. Unless I'm grossly misunderstanding something, the wiretap immunity is ongoing...so scaling it back would not be merely symbolic, but would actually correct an active injustice. Are we so sure it will be a meaningless bill? I'm ready to make some calls on that one, and I'm sure there are a few others out there. The Constitution still matters to a few people, and that counts for something.

    And Steve, great idea..putting all of society's problems on the shoulder of a Senator who'se been there less than a year. Yeah, that's a sensible position.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    I know when Merkley came in. I remember the whole election last year pretty well. I was looking at Congress since the Democrats regained power back in 2006. I know it's standard to stop everything to congratulate an individual politician for these profiles in courage moments even when Les himself says, "So what if it won't pass." If it passes I'll be the first to congratulate the Dems, but it sounds like Les is conceding that it has no chance from the start. That makes it a symbolic effort.

     I'm just reminding the Democrats after years of President Bush, that it is time to do better. Symbolic acts simply don't cut it.
    
    Here's an example: This happens to be the one year anniversary of the 700 point drop that led to TARP. I'm shocked to read that a year later the derivatives problem has gotten worse, the regulations we need to prevent another meltdown are not in place. There hasn't been any reform of Wall Street. A year later.
    
     The Democrats have got to start DELIVERING and stop congratulating each other for gestures and statements. This has got to become real sooner or later or we will lose the country.
    
      One year after TARP and nothing has changed in the unacceptable risk category. Why?
    
       It's the same thing that's strangling healthcare reform. If the Dems do the job I will be the first to write in and apologize for my tone. I would love to have to do that. I would love to say all those years fighting the Bush administration led to something great because the Dems came in and GOVERNED. They didn't just cuss about how great they're going. They actually did great. Because up 'til now - other than the new Supreme Court Justice which is a significant move - I don't see much of anything.
    
  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Les AuCoin:

    in the company of three of the Senate's best

    Bob T:

    Chris Dodd? C'mon! I can't wait til he's out of the Senate.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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    Bill, I didn't mean to pin the bizarreness of this entire thread on you, though I see that's how my comment reads.

    I get that you're frustrated, and I'm frustrated right there with you. But your point really doesn't hang together for me.

    Just because Les AuCoin describes the move as meaningless, doesn't make it so. If you really think this is a bill that should pass -- and I'm right there with you -- then how about trying to make it pass? And if it can't pass, why criticize Merkley for giving it a shot, or AuCoin for praising him?! Surely the problem is with those who oppose it, not those who support it -- right???

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill McDonald:

    They also should have known Bush began his programs BEFORE 9/11 so they couldn't have even pulled the "9/11 changed everything" excuse.

    Bob T:

    Hmm, maybe Bush felt that since Atty General Bobby Kennedy was very big on ordering warrantless wiretaps and stuff, the Dems would be okay with this. FDR's son said, after the Watergate stories starting appearing, that his father had wiretaps on all kinds of people (political opponents in many cases) so he didn't see what the big deal was. Maybe Bush knew this as well and thought this would be okay.

    These double standards are nauseating.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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    Bob Tiernan:

    Comparing Atty General Bobby Kennedy to the wrongs of the Patriot Act, perpetrated by the one who shall not be named, is such a stretch that I cannot even believe that what I am responding to is a serious argument.

    But then again, being willing to lie at worst and being willing to be intellectually dishonest at best suits political losers like sweat above the lips of Nixon.

    "Read my lips, no new arguments!" "I'm not a crook," but I am a soulless political hack!

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    What do you think?

    [Off-topic material deleted. The Bob Tiernan commenting here is not the chairman of the Oregon GOP. -editor]

  • Steve Buel (unverified)
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    Pete, just commenting on the general state of things. I am a big Merkley fan, but how about a government where politics is the last choice instead of the first choice? Since when can't a Senator stand up for what is right and just and what would create a better country just because he or she is a first term Senator, or "needs" to get reelected, or is in a hard race next time, or whatever excuse is the excuse this time.

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    To clarify for all commenters and readers, I didn't state that the effort is "meaningless." By the Wayne Morse standard, what counts is to be on the right side of a moral issue--whether you win or lose.

    The senator was making a comeback effort against Packwood in 1974 when I made my first run for Congress. One night, I sat with him in the back seat of his campaign car on the ride back to Portland after an event in Corvallis. At one point, he turned to me to say, "Always know what you're willing to lose for--and do it, son. In many ways that measures the character of a politician more than what he's (sic) willing to win for."

  • (Show?)

    Our new man in the U.S. Senate has some cajones= Our new man in the U.S. Senate has some boxes

    The Spanish slang for "balls" (testicles) is cojones

    No implication of agreement or disagreement with the use of the term........

  • urbanplanningoverlord (unverified)
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    For once, I agree with Bob Tiernan. Chris Dodd has gone "Washington" on us.

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    Les, sincerest apologies for my latenight shorthand. Of course you didn't say anything was "meaningless." I was referring (inadequately) to your statement: "So what if it won't pass?"

    I happen to agree with what you were saying there, and Wayne Morse was exactly the guy who came to mind.

    I'm ducking out now, it seems strange emotional reactions are ruling this thread more than reasoned positions. I barely understand half of what's being said…and I don't think the failing is in my comprehension.

  • (Show?)

    Pete, it may be a full moon. Or not.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Les, I hope you don't take my concern about where things are going as any kind of personal attack. In my banquet waiting days, I formulated a very positive opinion of you and I consider your loss to Packwood to be an Oregon tragedy.

     I remember a small lunch you attended at the Arlington Club where I was the waiter. It was in the main dining room but there were just a few people there. I came away thinking you'd be a major player in Oregon for decades. I met a lot of Senators in those days and you would have excelled in that  group. You had star potential Wyden and Merkley can only dream about. Oh well.
    
       Believe it or not I'm a comedy writer now but I got swept into activism during the lawless days of the Bush administration. To say I'm frustrated with the post-Bush era doesn't begin to cover it.
    
      We've got to self-correct here or this is going to be the last chapter in the history book of America. That - rather than the stage of the moon - is what's driving my part of these comments.
    
  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    I appreciate what Merkley is doing, and I'd like to take all the folks (including many Blue Oregon commenters) who slammed him as spineless during last year's primary and rub their noses in the dirt. BUT...

    Bill McDonald has it about right: NO REFORM to prevent a repeat of last year's Wall Street collapse. NO HEALTH-CARE REFORM. Of course Merkley cannot fix this alone, but Jesus K. Reist, it doesn't take a lot of sellout corporatist Democrats to ruin everything, does it?

  • (Show?)

    I'm just reminding the Democrats after years of President Bush, that it is time to do better. Symbolic acts simply don't cut it.

    Yeah, they do. If people only take action on stuff that they know is going to definitely pass--then nothing bold would ever get done.

    What Jeff (and the other Senators here) are doing is pushing the conversation. They're making people pay attention to an issue that REALLY needs talked about and understood. If they sit around and wait for it to get on the docket as a completely sure thing, then it'll never get there.

    It takes balls to stand up and say shit that needs to be said, especially when its unpopular. Give Jeff his due here. He more than deserves it.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    "Symbolic acts don't cut it" means it's going to take more than symbolism to deal with our problems. We've had a ton of conversations about reforming Wall Street. Many great speeches have been made, but we're still waiting for the bold stuff to be done.

      You actually tipped your hand here, Carla. I don't think spying on Americans is popular with the American People. I don't think the American People appreciate having their emails read and their phone calls monitored.
    
       When you lauded Merkley for saying something that was unpopular, you should have added "with our corporate masters."
    
      I've read that the public option is popular with 65% of the American People. The problem is that it's unpopular for the interests that Congress is working for, and that's on the party in power: The Democrats.
    
      Look, if they start doing something I'll be glad to give them all an award. We can have a banquet like the Golden Globes. I'm not hoping they fail here. I'm hoping they succeed.
    
  • (Show?)

    "Symbolic acts don't cut it" means it's going to take more than symbolism to deal with our problems. We've had a ton of conversations about reforming Wall Street. Many great speeches have been made, but we're still waiting for the bold stuff to be done.

    It has to start somewhere, Bill. And it won't start at all if we sit around and wring hands when people actually try to start the ball rolling.

    You actually tipped your hand here, Carla. I don't think spying on Americans is popular with the American People. I don't think the American People appreciate having their emails read and their phone calls monitored.

    I have a "hand"? Uh..okay. I agree that the American people don't like that stuff. But if nobody with a bully pulpit ever talks about how this is going on..and pushes on it when it's unpopular with the power players in DC to do it..its never going to get done.

    When you lauded Merkley for saying something that was unpopular, you should have added "with our corporate masters."

    Whatever. Going against the power structure and pushing back on them is something to be lauded..not diminished. That's my view, anyway.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Les Aucoin recognizing and praising his symbolic actions....

    One empty suit recognizing another of a newer generation....

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Carla, I'm grateful for the Democrats compared to the Republicans, but I bet you're not thrilled with their performance in power either.

    My fear is that we'll wake up on a bright autumn
    

    day around a year from now with the GOP back in charge of Congress. That's what we have to avoid and so far, Congress is acting like they're trying to make that happen. If you think there's hand-wringing now, imagine what a year from now could feel like.

     Look, I'm all for giving credit, but in award show terms, Merkley has written a script that hasn't been made into a movie. It doesn't sound like Les thinks there's any chance it will be made into a movie. It's time the Democrats get something made into a final product. They need a greenlight for something.
    
     We all know Hollywood gives out awards when the sun comes up. They give out awards for how you accepted your last award. Awards shows break out spontaneously whenever there's a gathering of Hollywood people.
    
      But they wouldn't give an award for the idea in a script that isn't going to be made into a movie. Even Hollywood wouldn't give an award for that.
    
  • (Show?)

    anyone who does not understand that symbols are the underpinning of politics and power is really working in the dark. Obama's politics, for example, matter less than all he represents. Howard Dean fell short of the nomination, but the campaign that swelled behind him has changed American politics. Reagan & Dubya were all about symbolism. "America" is a symbol.

    what happens when people push symbols & symbolic acts is that people either reject or consider/accept both the symbols and what they symbols represent. this process redefines the political/social landscape. for example, gays used to represent "pervert" or "fairy". now they represent "people who are not really much different from me". as we considered the symbol of "gay" and "lesbian" we confronted what those words meant, what those people are and, for more and more of us, how wrong we had been.

    political leaders need to beat the hell out of symbols. hopefully they'll do so in a way that is progressive, productive, good (as opposed to the "bad" ways). we make almost no advances in society through rational discussion; it's the symbols that people hold in their minds that matter most. we adjust our rationality to match more readily & easily than the other way around.

  • Rick (unverified)
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    Carla,

    You said "Going against the power structure and pushing back on them is something to be lauded..not diminished. That's my view, anyway."

    I am certain you don't agree when people push back on the power structure currently in place in Washington DC. In fact, those pushing back are called racists, nazis, brownshirts and worse.

    I would hope, but alas don't expect you to laud the efforts of those pushing back against the left proposals, now that the left is a "power structure".

    Remember the bumper stickers of the left (conveniently missing now) that said "Dissent is patriotic" and "Protest is patriotic". Do they apply now?

  • (Show?)

    From these responses, one thing seems clear and it's about the Senate, not Merkley: the Democrats' institutional timidity and torpor is turning grassroots activists against each other in frustration. Someone in august body had better wake up ...

  • (Show?)

    I am certain you don't agree when people push back on the power structure currently in place in Washington DC. In fact, those pushing back are called racists, nazis, brownshirts and worse.

    Would these be the people holding up Obama-as-Hitler signs and advocating for his assassination? Or would these be the people who show up to town hall meetings with guns? If so--then they're doing way more than "pushing back". In fact, they're inciting violence and should be shamed and frankly, mercilessly mocked. And in some cases arrested. But if you're talking about people who advocate for different policies than what Obama or Democratic leaders are doing? Then bully for them. Heck..half the time I do that.

    I would hope, but alas don't expect you to laud the efforts of those pushing back against the left proposals, now that the left is a "power structure"

    To my knowledge, nobody on "the left" is in any real position of power. If you do, please enlighten. Obama is a moderate and the leaders of the Democratic Party at the federal level won't push much in the way of progressive policies (with the caveat that Pelosi has been very good on the Public Option--it remains to be seen if she'll actually make it happen).

    Remember the bumper stickers of the left (conveniently missing now) that said "Dissent is patriotic" and "Protest is patriotic". Do they apply now?

    Those things are "missing"? I don't think so. With all the marches and protests that go on with health care (both for and against reform) I hardly think those dissent and protest "bumper stickers" are AWOL.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Gestures aren't going to be enough to fool the public next time."

    To paraphrase the Great Skeptic, "No one ever lost an election underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

    I supported Steve Novick over Jeff Merkley because of Chuck Schumer's connection to the latter. Of course, it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing Merkley over Gordo, and I have to say that much of what I have learned of Merkley since he became senator is much better than I expected. However, one of the tests for me will be how he votes on Israel-Palestine issues that Wyden flunked.

  • Rick (unverified)
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    Are you claiming that the few illustrate the many? Again, in the interest of valid conversation and clarification, if you are willing to paint all democrats by those that are not law-abiding or even sane, then we can do that. But I don’t think that partisanship gets us anywhere. I agree that they should be shamed, and ashamed, and mocked and perhaps arrested. So we agree that the pushback, like I am doing on occasion, is a good thing?

    Also, if you are separating “the left” from “the Democrats” or “the liberals”, then I applaud your distinction. But to say Obama is a moderate is outright wrong. He had the most left-leaning voting record in the entire senate. If no one voted more left, then how is he moderate? Unless the most left is moderate in this discussion, at which point we are back to a definition of left vs. Democrats.

    Additionally, the point, obviously, wasn’t that the stickers are missing (which they are) but that the left hates the pushback and gets very personal in response. Civil discourse is valuable. Name calling isn’t. But I consistently find some on this site whose approach to disagreement is to name call and imply that the other side can be defined negatively and thus dismissed. I can easily give many examples.

    I’d be interested to know if you agree that much of the left side think that those on the right are bad people? Or is it accurate that you think we are (mostly) good people who are either wrong (at this point) or just disagree with the left? It’s hard to imagine that we are ever seen as good people.

    And pretty much every person on the “left” claims to know someone whom they say is a conservative, but not like most of the rest. They are likable, nice and a good person. When a conservative is a friend, do you treat them the way those on the left speak of the right? Please note that I don’t EVER speak badly of the left. Frankly, because I see the value in people and in differing opinions. But I can’t say the same of many here. And I know there are those on the right who speak nastily as well.

    Is it good to keep up the vile rhetoric and name calling? If you think so, then we have clarified this issue. If not, then why don’t we live that way? Here, on Blue Oregon. I know this is a great gathering place for Blues. But what does it say to those looking for a party to join? How well are “people” represented here? Do Blues really seem like good people? I think they are good people, but they treat reds like crap, don’t they? Why? Cause they disagree?

  • Timmy (unverified)
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    "Our new man in the U.S. Senate has some cajones!"

    Word has it Jeff is swinging a 9incher around DC. He's HOT, HOT, HOT!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "But to say Obama is a moderate is outright wrong. He had the most left-leaning voting record in the entire senate."

    Then why did he vote for immunity for the telecoms after they turned over personal records to Homeland Security? Obama may have been at one time in the left of the political spectrum, but he obviously made a lurch towards the neocons when he tossed former friend, Rev. Wrignt, and the Palestinians, for whom he once had a justified sympathy, under the bus? There's nothing "leftist" about that. More recently, his votes for Wall Street bailouts and his deal with Big Pharma clearly put him right of center.

    But, enough of Obama. This thread is about Merkley.

  • Old Ducker (unverified)
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    Man, I feel unclean saying anything positive about anything Dodd has his name affixed to but I'll give Merkley a tip of the hat in the interest of giving credit where credit is due. Hey, dont stop there, repeal the "patriot" act!

    Oh and btw, Jeff, please become a co-sponsor to the Senate equavalent (got the number) of HR 1207, the FED audit bill.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Dear Les:

    I vote for "or not".

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    I am delighted that Jeff is doing this, and glad that Les brought it to our attention. What Carla said.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Can somebody delete that juvenile crap from Timmy?

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    Nice post, am happy with Jeff, but after watching Michael Moore's new Capitalism film, Jeff probably doesn't want to be compared to Chris Dodd. Dodd should hope that few swing voters in CN watch it.

    There was some nice footage of Peter DeFazio going after Goldman Sachs and Paulson during the bailout vote a year ago.

  • rw (unverified)
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    "Here's an example: This happens to be the one year anniversary of the 700 point drop that led to TARP. I'm shocked to read that a year later the derivatives problem has gotten worse, the regulations we need to prevent another meltdown are not in place. There hasn't been any reform of Wall Street. A year later.

    The Democrats have got to start DELIVERING and stop congratulating each other for gestures and statements. This has got to become real sooner or later or we will lose the country.

    One year after TARP and nothing has changed in the unacceptable risk category. Why?"

    Have to say, dear, I'm with you on this if all you say is true. It reads scandalous to me. Congratulating one another for a laudible position has become de rigeur, one supposes, as a result of the shameful silences and outright pusillanimity that has ruled conduct particularly since 9/11....

    But then, there HAS been a mindbendingly full plate to manage. Awful.

    When it melts down again due to the lack of serious solutions, who are they gonna blame? It won't be them dark skinned poor people this time who once again can't get a loan, right?

  • rw (unverified)
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    Bodden: so, you are saying that standing by Wright and his godawful positions is UnLefty? And had Obama stood by him, would you now be picking at him with your nails about being... o... I dunno.... UnLEFTY for keeping such company and not jettisoning him when it was apparent it was time?

    Ummmm. "Can't win for losing" is a dysfunctional game.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
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    So, you're saying that you think the "yes" voters would have voted that way, if there were a chance it would pass?

    Then you are very naive, my son.

    <h2>Question: why do the Dems that celebrate the minority, futile vote in the Congress, tell minority party voters that we're wasting our vote in the general election? I guess it's only character when someone spineless does it.</h2>

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