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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:06 PM
Original message
Democrats Didn't Have the Votes to End the War
Putting on my flame-retardant suit...

I see a lot of bitterness at the Congressional Democrats for allowing passage of the Iraq spending bill. Of course, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi, among many others, voted against it. But the feeling remains that the Democrats caved and it's not a sentiment limited to DU. Though DU may often be somewhat out of step with the majority of Democrats, polls show a huge decrease in approval for the Democratic Congress following the vote - and the biggest decrease comes in self-described liberals and Democrats who expressed strong disapproval of Congress.

Yet I have to admit that while the vote disappointed me immensely, I *DO* think there were few other options for the Democratic congressional leadership.

Simply put, we did not have the votes to end the war. And it wasn't even because of the House "Blue Dogs." It's because our majorities are tight - less than 50 in the Senate b/c of Lieberman's Republicanism on the war and Tim Johnson's absence - and the Republicans were not going to end the war.

In fact, as many pointed out, the spending measure passed the House based on Republican support - the majority of House Democrats voted against it. If there is something I would argue with, it's that even more House and Senate Democrats should have voted against it (a slight majority of Senate Democrats, including Jim Webb and Richard Durbin, voted for it), making it clear that the Republicans own this war.

Overall though, the numbers just were not there. We were nowhere near a veto-proof majority and the Republicans were not going to budge. And while plenty of DU'ers and others in the blogosphere laid out a scenario where Democrats simply sent the same bill over and over and over again to Bush, I'm genuinely pessimistic that such an approach would have worked. The thing may well have resulted in a government shut down. And yes, I do think that a shut-down would have hurt Democrats and helped Bush. In fact, the polling showed that though the public favored ending the war, the same polls indicated that in the face of a veto, the overwhelming majority favored authorizing the funds.

This war will not end as long as Bush is president. And without a larger Democratic majority and without more Republicans willing to admit reality, acquiescing to the passage of a spending bill - on the basis of REPUBLICAN support - was the only realistic option left.
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derby378 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
1. They DID, however, have the power to delay funding...
...and that would have forced Herr Decider into a real showdown.
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
2. Again, they didn't have to vote to end the war all they had to do was let Bush's veto
of the first bill they passed stand.
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BobRossi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. They didn't have to deliver a bill at all!
It never had to come up for a vote. No money, no war!
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pat_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 03:13 AM
Response to Reply #3
34. "No money, no war"? Under rule by signing statement?
Edited on Tue Jun-19-07 03:14 AM by pat_k
Are you serious?

They torture in plain sight. They nullify law with the stroke of a pen (and I'm not talking about the veto pen). They violate law at whim "to protect us."

You think they would even think twice about raiding the treasury to do whatever they want?

Reality is slapping them in the face. Anything short of impeachment is empty gesture. The American people want Bush stopped. Impeach and removal is the ONLY way to do it. The fight to impeach is the ONLY fight that counts. Win or lose, if they don't take up that fight, their numbers will just keep plummeting.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:11 PM
Response to Original message
4. Bullshit. It only takes 41 votes in the Senate to stop funding the OCCUPATION.
It's NOT a "war" ... it was an illegal invasion, a 6-week "war," and over four years of occupation.

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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. Can you explain that?
How does 41 make the nut?

Thanks.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:48 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. It takes 60 votes for cloture. 41 votes blocks cloture. Filibuster funding w/o exit.
Edited on Mon Jun-18-07 09:06 PM by TahitiNut
This could have been done at ANY time such fuding came to the Senate. It COULD be funding for ANYTHING, actually ... like the Justice Department. The point is that it doesn't even take a Democratic majority to force an exit from Iraq.

Can someone find 41 spines in the Senate? :shrug:
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TheWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 03:06 AM
Response to Reply #20
32. Judging by the Sounding Of The Crickets, Apparently Not
America The Spineless.
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Le Taz Hot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 04:33 AM
Response to Reply #20
35. Thank you for explaining that.
Information very much appreciated.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #35
38. You're certainly welcome, Taz. No matter how many times this FACT is presented ...
Edited on Tue Jun-19-07 11:59 AM by TahitiNut
... we seem to repeatedly have people stating the contrary ... which is a clear falsehood. The fact of the matter is that the occupation of Iraq could have been halted by ANY 41 Senators at ANY time. It doesn't take a majority of Dems or even a super-majority of Dems. All it'd take is the commitment to demand an exit, either immediate or on another schedule, before allowing any funding bill to be brought for a vote.

This is what's so frustrating. It does NOT take affirmative legislation to stop the occupation - it has taken affirmative legislation on several occasions to continue the occupation. At any one of those times, the issue could have been forced by 41 Senators, even if they weren't in the majority.


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Joe for Clark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
5. I couldn't disagree more.
Maybe we couldn't win - probably we couldn't win - but damn, we should have tried.

There is a lot to be said for going down with dignity.

Joe
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SergeyDovlatov Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
6. of course we do have enough votes to end the war
Edited on Mon Jun-18-07 08:13 PM by SergeyDovlatov
You can even stop the war with 41 votes in the senate if you have the political will to filibuster war spending bill.

With 50 votes it is even easier.
You DO NOT have to send any bill to the whitehouse.
Whitehouse cannot approriate war funds any other way.

Doing nothing with defund the war all by itself. Unfortunately congress lacks courage to do so.



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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:14 PM
Response to Original message
7. They could've not passed anything. They could've sent up the same bill over & over...
... They had options, and chose the worst of all of them. They are blameworthy for that.

I don't go nearly so far as everyone else around here seems to on the I-hate-Democrats tip, but they definitely deserve the low approval ratings they've been getting lately.

And also for not backing up their subpoenas with Inherent Contempt action.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:14 PM
Response to Original message
8. De-authorize the war.
Edited on Mon Jun-18-07 08:14 PM by mmonk
If we have a majority, we have the votes for as a resolution to end it isn't a bill whereby you need a single republican vote. So yes, we have the votes if they vote the same way.
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HCE SuiGeneris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. OP should be titled "Gutless Congress Opts to Continue Occupation" n/t
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
10. "Grandma, why didn't anyone stop the war criminal Bush?"
"We didn't have enough votes, sweetie"

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UrbScotty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:26 PM
Response to Original message
11. Thank you for your sense of realism. No flames here (nt)
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thunder rising Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:31 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. The Republicans have no trouble voting the party line
The Dems could have at least done that. Instead, the Dems chose to "message" us that the party voted as a unit of cowards and hence could not be blamed individually. Then we start getting fund raising letters saying we, the people that busted our asses and our pocket books, that got them into office didn't do enough. FUCK THEM.
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Actually, Democratic unity this Congress exceeds Republican unity
in the previous few Congresses.

And as I pointed out, the vast majority of HOUSE Democrats voted against the funding bill, including Pelosi.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:30 PM
Response to Original message
12. They chose to collaborate with the Blue Dogs and Bush and make excuses.
It was politics, as usual, in their maneuvering to avoid being accused of "losing" Iraq. It backfired because the people aren't buying the lame excuses that the war must go on because the politicians want to play politics with people's lives.

As has been pointed out by others in this thread, there were alternatives available that were ignored or glossed over with the usual rationalizations and timidity.

While the politicians watch the polls and fund raise with promises of "tomorrow", and "after we have a solid majority" , people are dying.
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BuyingThyme Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:37 PM
Response to Original message
15. Yes they do.
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sampsonblk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
16. We had to blink because the GOP wasn't going to?
The Dems din't allow passage, they passed it. That was unecessary and lame to the point of embarrassment.

"...and the Republicans were not going to budge." We expect our leaders to show the same courage, that's all. Your main argument, which you have made a dozen times at least, is that we had to blink because the other guy wasn't going to. How ridiculous is that?
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #16
22. I'm not optimistic that such a strategy would have worked
I wasn't at all happy with the course of action that passed - I just don't think there were really any realistic alternatives.

Of course we could have just kept up a staring contest with the Republicans and with Bush. But when you have a president who is hellbent on continuing the war, I do think a prolonged showdown would ultimately have wound up with a victory for the Republicans and a continuation of the war; without controlling both branches, it would be extraordinarily difficult to force our way through. And I do think the public would have blamed Democrats for the resulting standoff and the end result would have been a Republican victory; I don't really see how we could win this one, in spite of the scenarios that others laid out above.
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sampsonblk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #22
37. Each event affects the next
I don't presume to tell you how to look at things. But every event influences what happens next time. These things don't happen in a vacuum. So although it may not have worked in that particular case, retreating from that strong position has led us to lose the good will, trust and faith of the public.

And Bush, realizing he just won one that he had no business winning, is now threatening vetoes every week.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight and hope for the best.
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pat_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 03:04 AM
Response to Reply #16
31. Nancy's "off the table" edict doomed them to impotent gesture. . .
Edited on Tue Jun-19-07 03:05 AM by pat_k
They could have passed the "cut the funding" bill with a veto-proof majority. It would have made no difference.

Bush and Cheney have no qualms about violating our War Crimes statute (violations that are subject to the penalty of death). You think they would think twice about raiding the treasury to do precisely what they want? You think Bush would hestitate to nullify the law with a signing statement?

Give me a break.

How many times to the outlaws in the White House have to prove that NOTHING short of impeachment can even make them blink?
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
18. Naughty, naughty! Flying in the face of DU Orthodoxy. Minority opinions are not appreciated.
Isn't "liberal-pragmatist" an oxymoron? I mean, to be a real liberal you must sneer at reality and pragmatism. You must want what you want now and know that your point of view is the only one that counts and that regardless of the votes you have, you can do anything. Why be bothered with trivialities such as numbers? The Democrats in Congress should simply have a running poll here at DU in order that they should know exactly what to do since all of the most correct, noble, and self righteous answers are here. Those who disagree must be DLCers or worse, gasp!, FREEPERS!
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Moochy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:47 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Nice vitriol
I give you an 85/100!
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Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 10:35 PM
Response to Reply #18
29. Pragmatism, eh?
Wouldn't have been pragmatic to debate where the fuck the $100 billion occupation funding was going to come from? Is Obey going to pull the cash out of his ass, or are we going in debt even further? If we were going to spend $100 billion on health care, you damn well know that every motherfucker in the Beltway would gripe and moan about where the money's going to come from. But our poor defenceless Democratic majority couldn't be bothered to raise the issue.

Wouldn't have been pragmatic to put provisions in the war bill to ensure that the money is actually going towards militarily necessary objectives, and not just lining the pockets of the fat cats at Halliburton? How is this a bad idea? I'd really like to know.

Apologists for the party refuse to admit it, but there's a huge amount of middle ground between "Impeach Bush Yesterday" and the near-complete capitulation we've seen thus far from the Democratic majority.
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ellenfl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:50 PM
Response to Original message
21. i agree and i would hope that dems would quit
parroting the rw talking points on that vote. i believe the dem leadership decided to pick their fight. they already knew where this one was going and that they would be blasted for not 'supporting the troops'. until the msm starts to tell the american public which party truly supports our fighting men and women, the rw will control this conversation.

i think the dem leadership has decided to take their stand this fall with the defense appropriations bill. this makes sense because by this fall there should be more republics willing to vote with them and because this bill is a general defense bill and not specifically attached to the troops.

finally, i have a short story to tell. this spring i went to the county fair and stopped by a veterans booth which had a petition out front for some vet funding that was being cut. as i was signing the petition, i spoke with the vet behind the counter. i told him it was a crime how the republican congress kept cutting veterans' funding to which he indicated surprise and told me that he had always been a republican. i merely told him, repeatedly, to look up the voting records on veterans' issues and i assured him that he would find much more support from dems than from repugs. this surprised him and i truly hope he did a little homework. one thing we need to tell any vet we have the chance to tell . . . dems usually vote in support of vets, repugs don't. they are against ALL 'entitlements'.

ellen fl
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MissWaverly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
23. I am pissed over impeachment is off the table
meanwhile the WH is stonewalling every chance they get, ? what about wire tapping, firing of US AG's, run up to the Iraq War,
vote suppression, Abu Ghraib, rendition, ANSWER: Silence, Now he has 22 lawyers, I feel so reassured. Now after all the
long delay over Scooter Libby, who has still not gone to jail and he was the ONLY 1 to have any charges against him. Okay,
I realize they don't have a real MAJORITY. But they could still start impeachment proceedings, Bush cannot use EXECUTIVE
PRIVILEGE in impeachment proceedings. There are serious things wrong that need addressed, and it's a heck of a lot more
than a blue dress. So why don't the Dems hold them accountable. Now, I hear the Dems are "Supporting" abstinence education
which we know does not work. I didn't work to put Democrats in office that would act just like REPUBLICANS.
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moondust Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:10 PM
Response to Original message
24. Agree.
Show me 67 votes in the Senate. Name names.

I think it would have been very risky to simply drop the whole thing and not send a bill or to keep sending the same bill because everyone knows by now that you cannot trust Bush/Cheney to do the right thing. Who knows how long they would sadistically leave troops there in harm's way without funding, if for no other reason than to make a political point and blame the Dems for endangering the troops?
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thunder rising Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. You dishonor my troops
Those GI's would be just fine. As the equipment wore down they would not be able to patrol the streets. And, then they would take defensive positions. And, I do swear that the American people would side with getting them out of there. But that would force a confrontation and the Dems just don't have it in them.

It's funny, the Republican's absolutely play to their base and the Democrats know we are bought commodity. We're not going anywhere and they don't have to do a thing to keep us here. We're like junkies to to the pusher...where're we gonna go.
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moondust Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Hardly.
Having been one myself for six years. And you?

Bush/Cheney don't care what the American people think or it would have ended a long time ago.
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:49 PM
Response to Original message
26. no flames BUT ...
"we didn't have the votes" doesn't cut it ... as many have already said, the Dems did not have to bring a funding bill WITH NO CONDITIONS to the floor. They gave bush a funding bill and BUSH rejected it.

but it goes beyond just the actual bill the Democrats passed. Democrats have dragged their feet putting, or trying to put, an end to this damned war and occupation since before it began. it's NOT just this one vote. it's years of being wrong about Iraq.

and, even without the votes, the Democratic Party failed to make an effective case to the American people about ending the war. they let republicans frame the funding issue. this bill was NOT about "supporting the troops"!

you'd think they were about to let the troops starve in the desert without food, clothing or shelter ... you'd think they didn't have weapons. those mean old Democrats. the argument was total crap from the start and the Democrats failed to focus the policy discussion exactly where it should have been focused.

and where exactly was that you ask? good question. what should be the focus when a bill to fund a policy is being considered? seems pretty easy, right? the focus should have been on the total hopelessness of making an iota of progress in Iraq using the American military. it ain't going to happen no matter how long we stay there. and that should have been the argument the Democrats made to the American people. the question was NEVER "do Democrats give a damn about the military and about American troops." The question was "Can anyone justify continuing the funding for a policy that has so obviously failed?"

But, noooooooooooooo ... with only a few exceptions, the Democrats failed us, they failed our troops, they failed the Iraqis, they failed the country and they even managed to take a huge hit in the polls ... this really has to stop happening ...

so, it's not about "having the votes"; it's about fighting like hell in the public arena for WHAT IS THE RIGHT POLICY. if the Dems lose that fight, I'm still behind them 1000%. Nobody should demand victory on every issue. But when they fail to even show up and then they hand bush a blank check when they could have sent back a bill with conditions, there just is no excuse ....
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:53 PM
Response to Original message
28. Even so, they owed it to the voters to voice their votes. IMHO
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pat_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 02:48 AM
Response to Original message
30. They have the votes to impeach.
Edited on Tue Jun-19-07 02:57 AM by pat_k
They promised us a fight. They can deliver a fight, but it's gotta be a fight for something REAL.

The American people want Bush stopped. Now. Impeaching Bush and Cheney is the ONLY way to give us what we want. The fight to impeach and remove is the ONLY fight that counts.

Under rule by signing statement, all else is impotent gesture.

Whatever the outcome, it is ALWAYS good politics to play offense and force the opposition into a defensive position. Accusing/Impeaching does that.

The price of continuing the pretense that something short of impeachment can stop the outlaws will be high. Reality is already smacking them in the face. Let's hope it wakes them up before their failure to impeach destroys them.

The choice is simple.
They can fulfill their oath to "support and defend", break their bonds of complicity, AND reap enormous political rewards by demonstrating strength and commitment to principle.
Or

They can be derelict in their duty, continue to give Bush and Cheney cover, AND pay a high political price for their weakness and moral confusion.
As you say, there will be no extracting ourselves from the quagmire as long as "the decider" occupies the WH. If we want a shot at "ending the war," we've gotta forget the war. Fight to make the impeachment of Bush and Cheney a reality.


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TheWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 03:08 AM
Response to Original message
33. America The Apologists.
"When You Find Your Servant Is Your Master....."
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avrdream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 04:51 AM
Response to Reply #33
36. Wow, I had a different response.
But "when you find your servant is your master" is sooooo much better.

"Aw, come ON!" - anyone watch Lleyton Hewitt when he plays tennis? He says this when he doesn't agree with the calls by the referee. That's how I feel about this subject. Give me a small break, Harry and Nancy. You guys looked weak.
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