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Thread: The 2012 Presidential Race

  1. #331
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Corporate Personhood Undermines Democracy

    by Stephen T. Levin and Robert Weissman We don't yet know who will be running for offices high and low in the 2012 elections, but we do know a lot about what the election itself will look like. In a word, ugly.

    The 2012 elections will feature unprecedented spending by corporations and the elite 1 percent, much of it channeled through independent organizations and trade associations not required to disclose their donors. In many races, unaccountable Super PACs and trade associations will spend significantly more money than candidates or political parties.

    Independent entities spent $300 million in the 2010 federal elections, overwhelmingly on negative attack ads. They supported winners in 60 of the 75 Congressional races where party control changed. But 2010 was just practice for 2012. Karl Rove has announced plans to raise $240 million for the 2012 elections; the Koch Brothers say they will spend at least $200 million; and there's every reason to expect the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will raise and spend at least as much.

    The nightmare to come in 2012 is a direct result of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Through tortuous, hyper-"activist" reasoning, the Court held for the first time that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited money on behalf of individual candidates and causes. More generally, the Court signaled that the old customary restraints on election spending no longer applied.

    In the wake of Citizens United, Americans have a choice: sit back and watch our democracy erode, or work to undo the decision and restore individual rights in the face of the false notion of "corporate personhood." While there are a host of reforms that would diminish the devastating impact of Citizens United -- most notably, public financing of public elections -- there is ultimately no legislative fix for Citizens United. The 5-4 majority in the case found that corporations have a protected First Amendment right to spend unlimited money on elections. Absent the unlikely near term scenario of the Supreme Court reversing itself, we need a constitutional amendment to restore our democracy.

    On January 4, New York City gave a powerful voice to that call. Speaker Christine Quinn, along with myself, Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brad Lander, Gale Brewer, and the Progressive Caucus of the City Council proposed and passed a resolution calling on Congress to amend the constitution to clarify that "corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections or 'rights' of natural persons, specifically so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech."

    To read Justice Kennedy's decision in Citizens United is to enter a convoluted universe of "legal fiction" where the distinctions between living breathing human beings and intangible corporations are blissfully ignored. "Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people," wrote Justice Kennedy. On this point we all agree; but it is to citizens -- actual people -- that officials should be held accountable, not Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or NewsCorp.

    As anyone who has followed the Occupy Wall Street protests knows, these are not just philosophical concerns. The failure of our democracy to respond to the many urgent crises facing the nation -- from high unemployment crumbling infrastructure, and rapid global climate change -- is a direct result of excessive corporate political influence.

    In his powerful Citizens United dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens rightly recognized that "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

    This should not be a controversial proposition, and indeed, Americans overwhelmingly agree with the sentiment. New York City has helped restore this simple understanding to its rightful place in constitutional jurisprudence by establishing its support through a Council resolution for a constitutional amendment.

    This post was coauthored by New York City Councilmember Stephen T. Levin and Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephe...l?ref=new-york

  2. #332
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    I did not mean to put words in your mouth and I apologize. I was joking (at your expense) about the fact that we seemed to be going in circles.
    Kudos for the apology.


    Respect +1

  3. #333
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Loft: His philosophy is probably sound. If he can't have it, nobody can. If no Republican gets elected this term, he can try again in 4 years. If one gets elected, he either runs "Independent" or has to wait 8.

    Merry: Ya... That is bad. Politicians have always been for sale, but we seem to be drawing back the curtains one by one and accepting it all the way.

    Pretty soon our President will be wearing suit jackets that have more corporate logos on them than NASCAR jackets!

  4. #334

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    I did not mean to put words in your mouth and I apologize. I was joking (at your expense) about the fact that we seemed to be going in circles.
    Just read this. Thank you.

  5. #335

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Newt complained earlier that the Dems are screaming about some bogus concept of "class warfare" -- but today he goes after Romney, telling the story about poor little Newt growing up middle class, a military brat no less, and how he hates it when the rich guys get away with dirty tricks against the common man.

    I hear this little film he's put together about Mitt & Bain Capital is scathing -- and full of truths about his adventures into venture capitalism (or as the Faithful Repugs call it: One Arm of Free Market Entrepreneurship).

    The corpulent toad is going to take the entire party down with him.

    Today, Newt is calling on the people from "his" Superpac (quotes are for irony, not to quote him) to correct the factual errors in the 28 minute movie. As one critic pointed out tongue in cheek, apparently if they take out the errors and mistruths in the movie, there won't be much left. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2...gainst-romney/

    This recent tactic by Newt and Perry as an attack against Romney is one of the more pathetic ones I have ever seen. It's not that there are not areas to criticize Romney. It's that saying, in a Republican primary, that he was nasty and laid people off is going to get them nowhere. I can see that tack coming from the Dems in the fall, but for Newt it just makes him look pathetic.

    I also agree with what James Carville said about Perry. Worst Presidential Campaign ever. Worse than Rudy G. 4 years ago.

  6. #336

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    Oh, and Romney speaks French too! He and those other pinkos from Massachusetts!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=tyFaWhygzjQ

  7. #337
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The Santorum Family Saga, (or: The journey Mrs. Santorum took before claiming her current hard-right positions) ...

    Before Karen Met Rick

    The GOP contender’s hard-core pro-life wife once dated an abortion provider. Nancy Hass on their time together.

    THE DAILY BEAST / NEWSWEEK
    Jan 16, 2012

    Karen Santorum, the ultra-pro-life wife and mother of seven home-schooled children, has been the perfect complement to her husband, Rick, as he chases the Republican presidential nomination. On the campaign trail, the candidate often refers to her book, Letters to Gabriel, the story of the devoutly Catholic couple’s traumatic late-term 1997 miscarriage (the 20-week-old fetus lived two hours outside the womb). The couple opposes birth control as well as abortion, even in cases of rape.

    But Mrs. Santorum, 51, apparently wasn’t always committed to the cause. In fact, her live-in partner through most of her 20s was Tom Allen, a Pittsburgh obstetrician and abortion provider 40 years older than she, who remains an outspoken crusader for reproductive rights and liberal ideals. Dr. Allen has known Mrs. Santorum, born Karen Garver, her entire life: he delivered her in 1960.

    “Karen was a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet,” says Allen, who at 92 uses a walker but retains a sly smile. A wine aficionado who frequented the Pittsburgh Symphony and was active in the local chapter of the ACLU, he lives with his wife of 16 years, Judi—they started dating in 1989, soon after he and Garver split—in the same large detached row house where he lived with the woman who would become Santorum’s wife. He and Garver also lived for several years in another house a few blocks away. “Karen had no problems with what I did for a living,” says Allen, who helped start one of the first hospital-sanctioned abortion clinics in Pennsylvania. “We never really discussed it.” (The Santorum campaign did not return repeated requests for comment on the relationship.)

    The six-year-long May-December affair, which was always out in the open, began in 1982, when Garver was a 22-year-old nursing student at Duquesne University. Allen was then 63. He was well known for delivering babies and helping to start a “therapeutic abortion” clinic at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh years before Roe v. Wade. As at most such clinics, sympathetic psychiatrists of the era attested to women’s fragile mental health as a way to skirt restrictions on the procedure. Rick Santorum has lampooned the notion that abortion statutes should contain exceptions in cases where women’s health is at risk.

    Although they had technically known each other since Karen’s birth, Allen doesn’t remember having contact with her as she was growing up; they reconnected when she called him looking for an apartment to rent near Duquesne. Her parents, Catholic with 11 other children, who lived in the nearby suburbs, were well acquainted with Allen; her father was a pediatrician who got many of his patients through referrals from the obstetrician. They knew he owned the building that housed his large practice and that there was a basement apartment. Allen, divorced for several years at that point with six grown children, had been living on two upper floors.

    Garver moved into the basement apartment, but she wasn’t there long, says Allen. “That first night, as soon as it got dark, she called to say she was scared and asked if she could come up. I figured it was a come-on, but that was OK.” Karen, he says, came upstairs, permanently.

    Unusual though the affair may seem now, Allen says it “really wasn’t that big a deal, at least to me.” It was the ’80s, after all, and he’d had a number of young girlfriends before Garver; his wife Judi is 30 years younger than he. “My first marriage didn’t do very well because of that behavior,” he concedes.

    He and Karen lived above the office together for nearly five years, until the house in which Allen now resides was finished after a lengthy renovation (the couple broke up a few months after they moved into the house). Photographs of them together throughout those years show her as a fresh-faced, freckled young woman with wavy hair and a shy grin that grew more confident after Allen paid to have her teeth straightened.

    “He was very well known and respected in town, and pretty dashing,” says Curt Katz, who owned the local Mercedes dealership. Garver often came in to get the doctor’s car serviced, says Katz. “They were quite the couple.”

    Garver’s parents were scandalized by the pairing, which strained their relationship with their daughter, according to Allen’s youngest daughter, Candy, who, at 51, is the same age as Mrs. Santorum. (Karen’s parents did not return calls requesting comment.) His own children weren’t too happy either but bore it largely in silence.

    “We knew Dad was just going to be Dad,” she says. “We were respectful of his relationship with Karen, but we didn’t become close friends with her or anything.”

    Mary and Herbert Greenberg, longtime friends of Allen’s through Herbert’s job as concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, recall that Karen had seemed entirely familiar and comfortable with the subject of abortion when the couples socialized. In October 1983, Mary Greenberg (who had moved to Baltimore with her husband) flew to Pittsburgh to consult Allen about an abortion. He directed her to colleagues at the Women’s Health Center; Karen, recalls Mary, immediately offered to accompany her to the clinic. “She told me it wasn’t that bad, that I shouldn’t be worried,” says Mary, who ultimately went on her own, and met Allen and Garver for dinner later that night. “She was very supportive.”

    The Greenbergs say Allen happily gave Karen a cultural education. When she told him she wanted to learn to play the piano, he bought her a Steinway upright (which still stands in his living room). He took her to Europe several times as well as to Hong Kong for the wedding of one of his friends. In 1983, the couple went to France to visit Candy and one of her older sisters, who were traveling around Europe after college.

    He also took Karen on a group antiques-and-music week in London in the mid-’80s with several promi-nent local supporters of the arts. His future wife, Judi, then host of a classical-music radio show on WQED, the local public-broadcasting affiliate, led the group. She, Allen, and Garver shared a chatty, boozy night in the hotel, trading confidences. “Karen told Tom he should probably be dating me, that he and I had a lot in common.”


    Karen Santorum with Tom Allen in 1984, Courtesy of Tom Allen

    By then, Garver, who had been working as a neonatal nurse, had enrolled in law school at the University of Pittsburgh; Herbert Greenberg wrote her a recommendation. A classmate who now works on social-justice issues in New York describes her as “just another smart, nice girl with a Channel 13 tote bag, someone who seemed like an average progressive. We knew she had a much older doctor boyfriend, but we didn’t really talk about it.”

    The unlikely couple broke up in 1988. “Karen wanted to have children, and that was something I had already done,” Allen says. There were no hard feelings; she told him to keep the piano.

    Around that time, she met her future husband when he recruited her as a summer intern for his law firm; he too hadn’t been much of a practicing Catholic, but that changed soon after they married in 1990. They immediately started a family; Karen never practiced law. Her husband ran for Congress, and by the mid-1990s he was among the most fervent anti-abortion legislators in the House of Representatives. Her law-school friend the social-justice lawyer ran into Karen Santorum on Capitol Hill around then. “She greeted me warmly,” he recalls, “but I got the idea that she wasn’t allowed to embrace me or anything. By that point she was dressed like Hester Prynne.”

    Among the final times Tom Allen heard from Karen was a Christmas card in 1988. “I miss you,” it read.

  8. #338
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A reader comments on Karen & Rick's response to the conflicted mother of a gay son:

    Karen went on to feel the pain of this young man and said that while Rick believes everyone is equal, Rick feels this young man must remain celibate for his entire life, and if he finds love, well he needs to give that up.

    Karen also felt the pain of all women debating an abortion issue. Karen said that Rick thinks abortion is a sin, but in her case, Rick felt god would forgive them and god is never wrong, unless you are not married to Rick and then it is a sin.

    Karen tackled the question of abstinence*, saying no sex prior to marriage. Then Karen and Rick nudged each other knowing that she lived for 6 years with a man prior to her marriage to St. Rick, and that her paramour was a doctor who performed abortions. But Karen and Rick want you to know that if this decision involves anyone but Karen and Rick, then it will be a sin.

    Rick went on to stress his belief that children needed a mother and a father, and that the nation's laws shouldn't be changed to foster a different sort of family dynamic. When asked about the current foster care system and the systemic physical and sexual abuse by heterosexu*al couples with their foster children, Rick said he would rather them remain with the heterosexu*al couple and not those horrid same sex parents.

    And while the word from the Left was hypocrite; the Right was appeased.

  9. #339

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    ^ And here's the Santorum family back in Italy... quite a contrast. From the DailyBeast:

    Rick Santorum’s Communist Clan in Italy

    by Barbie Latza Nadeau
    Jan 11, 2012 6:36 AM EST


    In the tiny town of Riva del Garda in northern Italy, 83-year-old-Maria Malacarne Santorum keeps her family’s secrets—including those of her late husband’s cousin, Rick. In an exclusive interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, Mrs. Santorum recalls fondly when Rick visited her in 1985 during his law internship in Florence, and when he came back again in 1986 and 1989. “He loved our culture and cuisine so much, he brought his wife-to-be, Karen, a massive cookbook of Italian recipes,” she said.

    But the elder Santorum matriarch doesn’t understand why he has diverged so far from the family’s longtime political stance. “In Riva del Garda his grandfather Pietro and uncles were ‘red communists’ to the core,” writes Oggi journalist Giuseppe Fumagalli, likening the family to “Peppone” after a famous fictional Italian communist mayor who fought against an ultraconservative priest known as Don Cammillo and about which a popular television series is based. “But on the other side of the ocean, it’s like his family here doesn’t exist. Instead he draws crowds as the head of the ultraconservative faction of the Republican party, against divorce, gay marriage, abortion, and immigration.”

    Those politics don’t play well in Riva del Garda, a community of ultraliberals. On the campaign trail, Santorum often touts his grandfather’s flight from Italy “to escape fascism,” but he has neglected to publicly mention their close ties with the Italian Communist Party. “Rick’s grandfather Pietro was a liberal man and he understood right away what was happening in Italy,” Mrs. Santorum told Oggi. “He was anti-fascist to the extreme, and the political climate in 1925 was stifling so he left for America. After a few years he returned to Italy with his wife and children, including Aldo, Rick’s father, who passed away late last year. It’s a shame he won’t have the joy to see his son’s success in his bid for the White House.” She goes on to explain how the family then became pillars of the Communist Party in Italy.

    The matriarch lauds her distant relative as a “masterpiece” of the family, whom she calls a man of high intelligence and integrity. “He would be a great president,” she told Oggi. “But if he wants to make it, he will have to soften some of his positions. To take a stand against homosexuality or to oppose divorce is harmful. Principles count, but in politics one must have the capacity to be open-minded.”

    The Oggi piece also quotes an angry cousin who preferred to voice his dissent anonymously, remembering the time when high-ranking Communist Party members frequented the Santorum household in Riva del Garda. “There are Santorums who would roll over in their graves to hear [Rick’s] rhetoric,” he said.

    But the rest of the family seems content to turn a blind eye to their American cousin’s political persuasion. One cousin, Michela Santorum, told Oggi that she fondly remembers Rick’s interest in his Italian heritage, and especially Italian cuisine. “We were always astonished at how many ice cubes he put in his drinks,” Michela told Oggi. “But he loved everything else, including polenta.”
    According to Oggi, the general sentiment is that the Italian Santorums will forgive their American cousin if his bid is successful. “When he wins, he will send the American presidential airplane and take all the Santorums to the White House,” Bruno Santorum told the magazine.

    But after Santorum’s loss in New Hampshire and his recent slump in the polls, the question of whether he would bring his communist cousins to his ultraconservative White House may never be tested.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...peaks-out.html

  10. #340
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The core of the American Experience: To deny your past and remake yourself totally anew.

    (my great grandparents did it, too, to avoid the American anti-German craziness @ WWI)

  11. #341
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Too bad one craziness just gets supplanted by another......

  12. #342

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    January 17, 2012

    Hunting, Dear Sir? Delighted!

    By MAUREEN DOWD

    CHARLESTON, S.C.

    Watching Mitt Romney in the Myrtle Beach debate gave me acid flashbacks to Poppy Bush.

    Maybe it was when Mittens decorously noted, in front of the raucous, bloodthirsty South Carolina crowd: “When I get invited, I’m delighted to be able to go hunting.”

    Maybe it was Romney sounding all 19th century recounting his sharp right turn on abortion as governor of Massachusetts: “I penned an op-ed in The Boston Globe and said I am pro-life.”

    Maybe it was when Rick Santorum pushed the front-runner to justify an attack ad financed by his “super PAC” and Romney gazed at Santorum the way a C.E.O. regards an impudent mailroom clerk. “We have plenty of time,” Mitt instructed him with a tight smile, looking as though he wanted to give him a copy of “Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers.” “I’ll get there. I’ll do it in the order I want to.” Mitt would probably be asking for “a splash” more coffee at a truck stop if he drank coffee.

    Poppy is an Episcopalian East Coast patrician, and Mitt is a Mormon Midwest patrician; their fathers were both archetypal moderate Republicans.

    Poppy drinks martinis; Mitt drinks chocolate milk and Coke Zero. But 41 and the man he endorsed to be 45 share the gee-whiz language, hokey humor, awkward stage presence, sense of entitlement and noblesse oblige, need to break away from powerful patriarchs and prove themselves in business, gentlemanly demeanor that masks surprisingly sharp elbows, and the willingness to make whiplash switches from blue-blooded positions to red-state ones, leaving everyone to wonder: “Who is this guy at his core?”

    It’s easy to picture Poppy and Mitt sitting in a wood-paneled room in a country club, chatting about tennis, Marquess of Queensberry rules and how they’re above being gutter fighters like the Clintons (except when they aren’t). Poppy was compared by some to Chatsworth Osborne Jr., the rich kid on “Dobie Gillis,” and Mitt was compared by some to Thurston Howell III, the millionaire on “Gilligan’s Island.”

    Twenty-four years ago, David Letterman did a “Top Ten Ways to Make George Bush More Exciting.” (“Shorter speeches, tighter pants.”) Last year, Romney went on Letterman’s show to read “Things You Don’t Know About Mitt Romney,” including: “I’m the guy in the photo that comes with your picture frame.”

    Their political philosophies were not shaped by a passion for ideas as much as a desire to serve and an ambition to climb higher than their revered fathers. Pragmatism trumps ideology; survival trumps conviction. Both men, to the manner born in Greenwich and Bloomfield Hills, adapted uncomfortably to the fundamentalist tent meeting mood of the modern G.O.P., knowing their futures depended on Faustian deals with the right.

    Poppy went from denouncing “voodoo economics” to embracing it as Reagan’s vice president. “He understands,” a friend explained, “that you have to do politically prudent things to get in a position to do what’s right.”

    Worried that a platform of mere civic duty would not suffice to stir the emotions of voters, Poppy and Mitt waved the flag and demonized opponents with ethnic names as less American. Bush senior toured a flag factory and said the Pledge of Allegiance at every campaign stop; Romney parses patriotic songs and his advisers refer to Mormonism as “the most American of religions.” Just as the Ivy League Poppy mocked Michael Dukakis for being a member of the “Harvard boutique,” so Harvard grad Romney makes fun of President Obama as an elitist from “the Harvard faculty lounge.” It’s like watching little boys in Topsiders act all gangsta.

    Bush 41 went from supporting Planned Parenthood to declaring at his first debate with Dukakis that abortion was a crime that might need penalties. Romney went from being a passionate supporter of abortion rights who appeared at a fund-raiser for Planned Parenthood and endorsed the legalization of RU-486 to being “firmly pro-life.”

    What the late Republican Senator Mark Hatfield said of the resentment-stoking, red-meat-throwing H.W. in 1988 could apply to Romney now: “If his father were alive, I’m sure his father would see it as a shocking transformation.”

    Mitt and Poppy sacrificed authenticity but never inspired Reaganesque passion. When Romney went in and out of his hotel here this week, the Charleston Place, he passed a blue El Dorado Cadillac in the parking lot with a new bumper sticker reading: “Reagan for President.”

    On Fox News on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said that if Romney wants a big victory here Saturday, he will have to “let his hair down a little bit” and show his heart. (Does anybody really want to see that?) Many conservatives here don’t trust Romney to stay conservative if he becomes president. What if he began to think it’s his civic duty to cut the deficit by raising taxes, like Poppy? What if he flips back from his flops?

    Who are these guys at their core?

    © 2012 The New York Times Company

  13. #343
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I think one of the thing s that people seem to forget is that, on issues like Abortion (as emotionally charged as they may be) a position and ruling in one way or another will NOT significantly change the way the country is run.

    I am not saying it is not important. All I am saying is that, if you REALLY looked at the numbers, the % of americans and the outright $$ of any decision on this matter are minimal.

    Social Security, Health Care and the Military are three biggies, with the Trade Deficit looming right behind them. But, oddly enough, I hear so little about that other than plain derision.

    I really do not know what we can do about this, but we need a president and congress willing to step up to be fall guys. We need to be told to put away the comic books and do our homework. We need to mow the lawn to get our allowance.

    We ALSO need for them to TRY and provide protection from those wanting to make a profit from our basic needs. It is one thing to make money by selling grain, it is another to PATENT A GENE THAT CANNOT BE KEPT ISOLATED and then suing anybody whose plants show that gene due to cross-pollination. (Soy beans). It is one thing to say doctors deserve to get paid for the work they do, and make it so the industry simply handling the money gets a higher profit margin than they do.

    Our "representatives" are no better than the Gerber Grow Up plan. Tell us that they are on our side and everything is for our own good when they are only interested in paying off their true supporters.


    And now we have these used car salesmen trying to convince us that this wood paneled station wagon is the best deal for our family.

    It would be interesting to see if one SuperPAC could be set up to see which ass these politicians were willing to kiss and for how much.

  14. #344
    Senior Member Bob's Avatar
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    What surprises me is there's not one Democrat willing to challenge the President for his party's nomination. The Democrats are lock-step behind their guy, thinking that Obama can't lose. Oh, yes he can.

  15. #345
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Just like all those GOP guys who lined up to challenge Bush in '04?

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