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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:47 PM
Original message
Why Republicans Are So Disproportionately Involved in Bribery Scandals
Accepting a bribe is without a doubt one of the worst crimes that a public official can commit especially a federal U.S. official.

What that crime entails is the acceptance of money or some other favor in return for an explicit or implicit promise to act in ones official capacity to favor the briber. The briber is typically a powerful and wealthy individual or corporation, since only the powerful and wealthy have the means to engage in this type of activity to any large extent.

The public official who accepts a bribe and then carries out his part of the bargain thereby abrogates his responsibility to the public to fulfill his or her oath of office. That oath is sacred because our government, and therefore the effective functioning of our country, is absolutely dependent upon the integrity of the officials whom we elect to represent us. Because we live in a democracy and these officials are elected by we the people (or chosen by officials who are elected by we the people), they are responsible for representing our interests. To the extent that they instead represent the interests of the wealthy and powerful especially when they choose to do that because of bribes they subvert our democracy. Therefore, when a public official accepts and acts upon a bribe, he or she is committing an act akin to treason.

Some who read this are probably thinking, Oh, but this is done all the time, and almost everybody knows that. Yes, that is true in a sense, and I will talk more about that shortly. That is doubtlessly one of the major reasons why only 16% of Americans today approve of the job that Congress is doing.

And that is also why the Republican disparagement of so-called big government, along with the related phrase, We need to get government off the backs of the American people, has resonated so well with many Americans since the candidacy and presidency of Ronald Reagan. But the main culprit is not big government per se, but rather corrupt government. Big government per se will not hurt us as long as those who constitute our government represent our interests, as they are elected to do.

The alternative to government is anarchy, which is a terrible state of affairs. In an anarchic society there are few or no laws, so everyone is free to do whatever they want, and consequently the strong trample on the weak to get what they want. The need to counteract that tendency is precisely why government in general, and democracies in particular, are created. And it is also why the so-called anarchists of the late 19th Century United States were so feared and despised in some circles.

But most of those anarchists were not against government per se, rather they were against a government that was in fact worse than anarchy in many ways because it aligned with powerful and wealthy interests to subjugate the poor and the powerless, as well as the middle class. And therein lies the major problem of our government today, as epitomized by an epidemic of Republican bribery scandals and bribery in general.


Recent bribery scandals in the United States

At the center of our recent bribery scandals is Jack Abramoff. Actually, Abramoff merely represents the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. But his bribery was so extreme, and he was so arrogant and careless, that he got caught, whereas others whose bribery (or acceptance of bribes) is less extreme and less careless have not been caught and probably never will be. The core of the charges against Abramoff, to which he has plead guilty, in addition to tax evasion was the swindling of Indian tribes for $82 million, which was used to bribe Congressmen to use their official powers to favor those Indian tribes (and their competitors as well, which is why the word swindling is used to characterize those interactions.)

One way in which the Abramoff bribery scandals differ from most bribery scandals involving public officials is that the transactions of most bribery scandals occur primarily between a wealthy and powerful corporation and a public official, with the lobbyist acting basically as a paid middle man (or mercenary). With the Abramoff crimes it was the lobbyist, Abramoff, who played the central role, with many of his clients (the corporations that paid him) more or less (by comparison with Abramoff) playing the role of victim rather than criminal. I mention this important point because many Republican operatives have claimed that Democrats have been involved in the Abramoff scandals as well as Republicans. That is not true. Some Democrats have indeed received campaign contributions from Abramoffs clients, but that by no means translates to having involvement with Abramoff or to having taken a bribe.

Another central figure in the recent scandals is Tom DeLay, former Republican House Majority Leader (until he had to resign in disgrace), good friend of Jack Abramoff, and the man who ordered a mob of Republican lackeys to stop the counting of presidential votes in Miami-Dade County Florida during the 2000 presidential election by threatening violence (which they successfully accomplished). DeLay was indicted for illegally raising money (i.e., accepting bribes) to get Republicans elected to the Texas state legislature, which was integral to DeLays plan to redistrict U.S. House seats from Texas, thereby switching five seats into the Republican column. DeLay also solicited money from an energy company right before a House vote that was crucial to that company, and he offered a bribe to a fellow Congressman right on the floor of the U.S. House in order to persuade that Congressman to vote for George Bushs scam Medicare bill.

And here are just a few of the recent scandals or brewing scandals: Duke Cunningham (R-CA) pled guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes; Bob Ney (R-OH) pled guilty to accepting bribes from Abramoff; Pete Sessions (R-TX) received over $20 thousand from Abramoff clients for signing letters that benefited them; Jerry Lewis (R-CA and Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee) is under investigation for shaking down various victims for money; Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) was recently shamed into returning $150,000 he received from Jack Abramoff; John Doolittles (R-CA) wife created a lobbying firm to steer money from Abramoff to her husbands campaign; John Sweeney (R-NY) has recently been asked to explain why he failed to report an Abramoff sponsored trip to the Marianas Islands; and last but not least, Abramoff has logged in hundreds of visits to the George W. Bush White House.


The dynamics of elections in the United States

In order to understand why Republicans are so disproportionately involved in bribery scandals in the United States today, it is necessary to understand the dynamics that determine election results in our country.

The central dynamic that needs to be understood is that, relatively speaking, the Republican Party represents wealthy and powerful corporations and individuals, whereas the Democratic Party represents the great majority of the people the middle class and the poor. For example, with respect to pro-people measures: Democrats overwhelming vote more for public health measures than Republicans; Republicans even voted down a much needed Veterans health measure that was introduced by Democrats; the last vote on a bill to raise the poverty level federal minimum wage was voted down in the Senate even though every Democrat voted for the bill; and every single Republican voted for a bill that substantially reduced bankruptcy protection for American families.

With regard to pro-corporate measures: Republicans enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which relaxed controls over the energy industry; they voted down an amendment to a bill that would have required improved fuel efficiency; they voted down an amendment that would have required Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry; they voted to limit the possibilities for class action suits against corporations; and, they have repeatedly voted for changes to our tax laws which overwhelmingly favor the wealthy.

How is the Republican Party able to get away with this? How can they win elections if they truly represent only a small portion of the population? One would hope that in a democracy there would be no question of which party should receive the good majority of votes under such circumstances. But the unfortunate reality is that wealth is so unevenly distributed in our country that candidates for the 2004 presidential election raised 80% of their money from the 0.1% of (mostly wealthy) donors, thus giving those donors a very disproportionate say in the election. Since the Republican Party is the Party of the wealthy and the powerful, though they represent far less people than the Democratic Party they nevertheless enjoy a substantial advantage in campaign contributions. And they use those campaign contributions for advertisements to convince gullible voters that they represent their interests. Furthermore, this creates the potential for a vicious cycle which portends great danger to the survival of democracy. With millions of dollars flowing into Republican campaign coffers, which have given Republicans control of our presidency, Congress, and judiciary, they are able enact laws that favor the rich and powerful (including corporations that own our voting machines and our national news media), thereby causing their wealth to skyrocket and make available to them ever more money to contribute to their Republican benefactors.


Why are Republicans disproportionately involved in bribery scandals?

To answer this question we must first consider why the Republican Party represents the rich and the powerful rather than the majority of their constituents. One potential answer to that question, and the one that Republicans will sometimes admit to (if they admit at all that they favor the rich and powerful) is an ideological one. When they deregulate corporations, for example, they will tell you that their actions are consistent with their belief in freedom and a free market. But corporations receive their charters to operate from government, they utilize government sponsored infrastructure to operate, and they frequently receive subsidies from government. All of that should morally make them subject to government regulation in the public interest (for example, regulations limiting their right to pollute the soil, the water and the air) without the need to complain about interfering with their freedom or with free market principles. But todays Republicans dont often consider that.

The other, more realistic answer, is that Republicans favor the rich and powerful because that is where they obtain most of their campaign money. In any event it is hardly possible to divine their motives. The bottom line, however, regardless of their motives, is that since their policies favor a small proportion of the population, compared with the Democratic Party, they are completely dependent upon donations from wealthy donors in order to stay in office.

Consequently, they repeatedly vote in favor of the rich and powerful, and in return they are rewarded with money. So why doesnt that routinely qualify as bribery? As Jeff Birnbaum explains, the line between legal bribery and illegal bribery is quite blurry and difficult to ascertain. In theory, all bribery is illegal. But how can it be proven? Few people doubt that our legislators receive money from corporations in return for their votes. But these deals are rarely sealed in writing. Legislators who receive money from wealthy corporations for doing favors for them will routinely tell us that their vote was not influenced by the bribe I mean the campaign donation. They will claim other reasons for their vote, and how can it be proven otherwise?

Only extreme and more or less obvious abuses of the system, such as demonstrated recently by Abramoff, DeLay, Cunningham, and Ney, are typically prosecuted. But the solicitation or receipt of so-called legalized bribes, in the ethical sense, has become the routine way in which most Republicans (much more so than Democrats) obtain money for their campaigns. As I said, their continuation in office is dependent upon these bribes I mean campaign contributions. So they are always skating close to the edge. And every now and then, when they get a little careless or overly arrogant, they skate off the edge.

And now, it looks as if one too many of them has skated off the edge, making their corruption obvious enough to the American people that, despite all their ill-gotten money, they just may lose control of Congress this Election Day.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:49 PM
Response to Original message
1. It makes no sense to bribe someone who does not have power to help you
Any party in power is susceptible to bribes..Power corrupts ...and absolute power corrupts absolutely
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 06:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. What self-respecting page wants to be molested by some powerless DEMOCRAT?
Once the Democrats are in power, they're gonna get themselves some hot, young page-studs!

Not to mention Democrats will start strangling their mistreses, raping Vegas cocktail waitresses...

Oh, here we come!

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I sure hope EVERYONE there cleans up their act..
:)
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:21 AM
Response to Reply #4
11. Right, and better yet the Dems could find someone like Abramoff to
give them lots of money once they take over Congress, so that they can consolidate their power. Too bad he'll be out of action, otherwise they could probably get in on some of his action.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. Take Bush's Medicare bill for example
Do you think that Republicans voted to block the federal government from negotiating prices because they really believe that the govt. should pay the drug companies whatever they ask for?

Or, was it because they want to please the pharmaceutical companies so that they can get money from them?

And individual Democratic Congresspersons get one vote on every bill that comes before them, just like every individual Republican Congressperson.

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:51 PM
Response to Original message
2. They do it because everybody else in their party is doing it.
And if they don't do it, somebody else will.

All this would stop if there was a local, state and federal level agency where the average Joe could go to report corruption and get results.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. But why their party instead of ours?
I agree that we need to find a better way to control the problem. This is a serious crime, and it needs to be dealt with as a serious crime. For example, why should it be legal for corporations to bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars together and give them to George Bush in return for his favors? Why should it be legal for them to give him that money at all?

But the point of my OP was to point out a major difference between the two parties. The scandals are one reason why we are in a good shape to take back Congress in a few weeks, and I think that being able to explain the reasons for why them and not us makes our argument for taking back Congress even stronger.
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elehhhhna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:09 AM
Response to Reply #9
16. The sentence for treason is death by hanging.
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 07:09 AM by elehhhhna
Let's try it. Might "send a message".
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #9
22. Project K Street was their Achille's Heel.
Their strength and their weakness. They funneled all the bribe money to the Republican party and left the Democrats out in the cold. So, now that the chips are falling, they have no one to politically barter with. In the past, it use to be that if corruption was found, the other party got in the way of swift justice, because they were doing the same things. The two parties would have a gentlemen's agreement and, maybe, someone was sacrificed, while everything else was hushed up.

Why Nancy Pelosi is catering to them now with the "no time for impeachment" speech, is mysterious. She has no reason to give in to them.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #22
30. Pelosi's "no time for impeachment speech"
Yes, I'm very upset with that, because as far as I see it, there's never been a time in the history of our country when impeachment was needed more.

I assume that she's just saying that to calm fears of moderates, in the hope that it will add to the Democratic victory in November. But I think it's a bad strategy and a bad idea. I hope very much she will change her mind if, I mean when she becomes Speaker. But if she doesn't, they need to throw her out and elect a new Speaker.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. right
the problem is there are very few resources or mechanisms to fight this kind of corruption. People don't even imagine such a world where govt accountability would be the norm, where govt would be in the hands of all the people and not operating on bribery. Most Americans can't even imagine this.
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. Because they're in power.
You really wasted a lot of time on something so simple to answer.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 07:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I doubt that that is a full answer
The votes of Congresspersons who are out of power count just as much as the those who are in power.
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mediaman007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Kerry mobilized attorneys too! A lot of good that did.
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 06:49 AM
Response to Reply #6
14. No, that's the full answer.
You're failing to understand that voting isn't even close to the biggest portion of what a Congressman does. Not even close.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 08:30 AM
Response to Reply #14
20. Ok then, explain why almost all of them vote to criminalize the buying of
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 08:31 AM by Time for change
drugs from Canada

a) It's consistent with their free market ideology.

b) They think that benefits most of their constituents, by forcing them to buy better drugs from U.S. drug companies.

c) They want to please the pharmaceutical industry, in order to obtain more cash for their campaigns.
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. I've yet to see any charges of bribery related to the pharma industry.
Bribery and campaign fundraising are entirely different things.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #21
23. They are not entirely different at all. Bribery is a sub-category of
campaign financing. Look at the definition of bribery as defined in this OP or look at the Wikipedia definition, or look at Jeff Birnbaum's discussion of it:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0606.bir...

If an elected official accepts money that is given with the intent of influencing an official action of the official, and if the money does in fact influence an official action of the official, it is a bribe. It makes no difference whether the money is accepted for personal use or as part of campaign fundraising, it is still a bribe.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:29 AM
Response to Original message
12. You said it
"Since the Republican Party is the Party of the wealthy and the powerful, though they represent far less people than the Democratic Party they nevertheless enjoy a substantial advantage in campaign contributions. And they use those campaign contributions for advertisements to convince gullible voters that they represent their interests. Furthermore, this creates the potential for a vicious cycle which portends great danger to the survival of democracy. With millions of dollars flowing into Republican campaign coffers, which have given Republicans control of our presidency, Congress, and judiciary, they are able enact laws that favor the rich and powerful (including corporations that own our voting machines and our national news media), thereby causing their wealth to skyrocket and make available to them ever more money to contribute to their Republican benefactors."

------------------------

:thumbsup: You said this so clearly
--wouldn't it be nice if the truth of it actually sank in for people who are being exploited everyday? Has the Bu*h era gotten us any closer to the day when they finally understand the big picture?

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 06:17 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Thank you marions ghost - I think that the major problem is our corporate news media
Can you imagine what it would be like if we had a truly independent news media. Keith Olberman has shown a great deal of courage in doing what he's done because he's risking a lot. But most of our corporate news media acts like Bush is a real president, who has intelligent thoughts, etc. What if they actually treated an important scanndal like a scandal. I'm not talking about treating none-scandals like scandals, like they did with Clinton. But what if they simply called him on all his lies? He wouldn't even have polled double digits against Kerry or Gore.

Anyhow, my point is that he no longer have an independent news media, and the people of our country have been misled. But recently Bush and others have just gone too far, and even our lackey news media is doing something.

If the Dems get power back, one of the first things they must do is take steps to bring back an independent news media. They receive their licenses from the federal government, and in return they're supposed to provide a public service, not serve as a tool for the wealthy and powerful of this country.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #13
24. I couldn't agree more
"we no longer have an independent news media, and the people of our country have been misled."

Yes, the general public has been deliberately 'misled' (polite term for brainwashed). And to prevent it happening again is going to take a lot of work building an independent media. In future I hope we will be able to see this Rethuglican period as a true Dark Ages...meaning we will have emerged into a period of enlightenment supported by honest and objective information resources. I believe this can and must be done. We don't really have a choice--we have seen what leaving it up to the commercial sector has brought us.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #24
28. Absolutely -- That has to be a major priority
Our corporate news media tips the balance of power way to the right.

And neither we nor the world can afford to go through another pResidency like this one.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 06:58 AM
Response to Original message
15. They are obsessed with personal power; that's why they wanted
the office. They have no concept of being a public servant.

They want to be personally important and to have anvils to hold over people so they can feel "powerful."

Yet their positions are specifically defined and circumscribed; they are to represent the people, not themselves personally.
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elehhhhna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. All politics, no governance. Their motto.
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civildisoBDence Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #17
25. All hat, no cattle. All hat to hold those big, arrogant heads...no cattle, but
piles and piles of bullshit. Go figure.

If the GOP believes in small government, what reason could they possibly have for growing the government more than any Congress or White House in history?

Pure self interest, which is coming back to haunt them in a big way two weeks from today!!!

Newsprism
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. Exactly -- Hipocrisy almost beyone one's ability to imagine
And our corporate media has been letting them get away with it for way too long, until it got to the point where they just couldn't ignore it any more.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #17
29. Yes, and they've become very good at politics
They really know how to get their talking points down, as meaningless as they are. They can get away with that as long as we have a corporate media that is rarely willing to call them on their dishonesty. If we had a really independent national news media they would have been dead meat a long time ago.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:21 AM
Response to Original message
18. Money
the gateway drug to Power.
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PurityOfEssence Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:24 AM
Response to Original message
19. 'Cuz they're greedy selfish fucks?
It certainly fits with the mindset, doesn't it?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #19
34. Yes, that is true
Their ideology fits hand in glove with their drive for power. Corporate America is well aware of that, and they are happy to play the game of making "campaign contributions" disguised in the legal fiction that they are making a "political contribution", rather than giving money with the specific intended effect of influencing their Republican puppets to facilitate their gain of ever more power -- in other words, bribes.
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izzybeans Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
27. The republican wuss factor?
Any party in power will need to show some backbone when the corporate leeches start to swarm. I chalk it up to no morals and a weak, weak, weak personality. Like that friend or coworker who just can't say no to their friends. They are the jump of the bridge when told crowd. In fact it is they who give crowds a bad name.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #27
33. "Conservatives without conscience" is the way John Dean put it
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
31. money is a repuke's highest moral value
and the repuke party is an organized crime ring
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ladywnch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
32. its really very simple
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 03:55 PM by ladywnch
they are more moral than we are. They have better sense of right and wrong than we do. They are more virtuous than we are. They espouse true Christian values more than we do.

:sarcasm: :sarcasm: :sarcasm: :sarcasm: :sarcasm: :sarcasm: :sarcasm:


:puke: :puke: :puke: :puke: :puke: :puke:
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