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What Specter's defection means

Justin Webb | 20:19 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The really interesting story with Arlen Specter is not so much the parliamentary stuff that has caught so much attention today, but the deeper issue of what it says about change in America. Or change in Pennsylvania to be precise.

If Arlen Specter could have won as a Republican he would have stayed a Republican - but Pennsylvania voters have been on a trajectory that takes them further and further away from the causes and concerns of the Bush-era Republican party, in particular on issues of religious social conservatism (whose strange death I chronicled in my book).

Remember Rick Santorum? Who could forget. But where is he now? Sarah Palin? Ditto.

This is where I take issue with the thesis of my friend Adrian Wooldridge of the Economist, who writes that God is Back.

If God were back, Mr Specter would still be a Republican...

Comments

  • 1. At 8:41pm on 28 Apr 2009, moderate_observer wrote:

    the republicans are still reeling from their emperor has no clothes moment. Now that the veal of the Bush admin has been removed the lot of stuttering yes men in the house have been caught with the deer in the headlights look and all they have to offer is hysteria of what they fear of the democrats and the president, and old talking points that the country has heard and is tired of hearing for the past 8 years. Its sad really.

    The party is not currently the party of fresh ideas and initiatives and Spector knows it, being a moderate and liked by independents he has the liberty to change parties and still be respected.

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  • 2. At 8:46pm on 28 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    I don't think the people of Pennsylvania or the US have changed all that much. It is the Republican Party which has changed the most, allowing the most reactionary elements to take control away from the moderates. It is the manifest failure of the policies of this faction that has led to the loss of support among Americans, most of whom, whether Democratic or Republican, are moderates.

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  • 3. At 9:04pm on 28 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    God justin.
    If God were back spectre would be a republican.

    maybe the republicans tried to claim religion as their own but the people didn't KEEP buying it.

    The cretinists also claim ID but it is not thiers. that belongs to rational religious people .

    The assumption that the spiritually minded are republicans is an old song . and not true.

    Do you get a cut from the Book sales. (not your book I assume that the other one?)

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  • 4. At 9:15pm on 28 Apr 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Sen. Spector has been moving away from the Republican party since it was over-taken by the religous right. He has had conflict with the Repub's for a number of years now so this should not be a big surprise. As the Republicans have decided that the best thing to do in times of crisis is to undermine the country I think that Sen. Spector had had enough of the nilism of that pary. Sen Spector is cursed with having integrity and principals and there does not appear to be any place for those qualities in the Republican Party. He didn't meet the standards of moronic radio and TV talk show hosts.

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  • 5. At 9:20pm on 28 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Oh sorry Justin. I realise I am always critical of you so went back and looked at your post again to see the better side of it.

    No I look closer I am wondering if you are pointing out that the faithful in the USA do actually believe in their God and are doing something about it by converting to the party that has a better right to try to claim God as thiers.

    Especially as they do not claim that and we all know by not claiming it they have won.. Hesiodes pointed that out on the catholic bash post.

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  • 6. At 9:28pm on 28 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    Does this mean that the Democrats will now move to the center?

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  • 7. At 9:33pm on 28 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    6 GnR you mean to the right. right?



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  • 8. At 9:36pm on 28 Apr 2009, dursun wrote:

    It means there is not enough rotting flesh left on the corpse of the GOP.

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  • 9. At 9:44pm on 28 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    Justin,

    It simply means I'll no longer be able to vote a split ticket.

    Which is very sad.

    Sad Sam

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  • 10. At 9:52pm on 28 Apr 2009, bethpa wrote:

    Specter was at one time a Democrat..and he had warned Santorum that he was going to far too the right.

    I am from Pennsylvania and have gone door to door canvassing for Kerry and no one who says they are an atheist or an agnostic can win an election. Any candidate must say he believes in God to gain votes.

    Casey (the other Democratic senator from PA) is known as a Catholic who is not comfortable with abortion..and that is the position of many religiously minded people in Pennsylvania imo. Casey almost has a saint like aura about him : )

    It may be that religious voters are now considering global warming and environmental issues and social justice issues...for the poor.

    The US is going in a populist direction now ...and the bad guys are the wealthy who have lied and cheated to take wealth from the people.

    The right wing Republicans were going to run a candidate against Specter in the Republican primary.

    Specter will almost certainly win now

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  • 11. At 10:04pm on 28 Apr 2009, verycynicalsceptic wrote:

    On a pedantic point, it is hard for something that did not exist in the first place to come "back".

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  • 12. At 10:09pm on 28 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    First off, it's not often I get hung up on the title of a post, but after hearing the Republican leadership use the same language, "defection" is a completely and totally inappropriate choice of words. This is a republic, darn it, and using language that designates the opposition party as "the enemy" is not only hyperbole, it's also dangerous hyperbole.

    Much like a lot of other language being slung about by partisans on both sides lately, this is a deliberate choice that only stirs up division and tribalization. By deliberately choosing to evoke the us-vs.them, forcing people into the "other", we are a step away from demonization and dehumanization.

    In other words, we can choose to emphasize our differences, or our similarities. Emphasizing differences will lead to a perception of two Americas where there is only one.

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  • 13. At 10:10pm on 28 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    What this says is that the Republicans are in deep trouble. I heard some of Senator Spector Comments about how there are members in the Gop who are in deep ideological trouble. It appears as if they have no clue as to what is going on in the country. The still are trying to push the disgarded notion of reducing spending in a recession. Unfortunately, in a recession that doesn't work. They also seem not terribly concerned on the issue of Waterboarding, and believe Carl Rove when they say that Torture is alright. Most of the Country doesn't agree with that situation. This is a party that has been is being led by a group of Radio Talkshow Hosts which include Glenn Beck, Sean Hannitty, and The Comedian Rush Limbaugh. About forty to fifty years ago. But the Republican Party is becoming increasingly dominated by political extremist from its vocal right wing. The Moderate wing of the Republican Party begane to die in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was nominated for President. Ever Since that time the Conservatives have be gaining more and more power with in the GOP. Since REagan took office the death of the moderates has been excelarated, to the point where there is only one republican moderate left in the Senate. Susan Collins of Maine.

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  • 14. At 10:11pm on 28 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #7, happy, you have to understand that Americans are, as a group, a little
    more conservative than sophisticated Europeans such as yourself. This is
    because we've never had a federal government do any good thing for us.

    Usually, they're content to take a bite out of our paychecks and provide
    nothing in return, but occasionally they draft our young men and send them
    to an inhospitable part of the world to rot. About half of the time
    we "win" (not sure what that means), and the other half we don't. Then
    we spend the next ten years paying for the mistake.

    Now, our politicians are like our CEOs. They know that nobody likes to
    pay for a mistake. So, they wave their hands around and point at each other
    until they are out of office. Then, the party really ends, interest rates
    shoot up, and people get thrown out of office. But, it's not them.

    So, I wouldn't get too worked up about Spector. He was wrong about how
    many bullets were used to kill Kennedy and where the majority of them
    came from. He's been right about a few things since that time, but this
    is not one of them.

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  • 15. At 10:14pm on 28 Apr 2009, bethpa wrote:

    I'd like to see 3 political parties in the US..a conservative, a moderate and a liberal party.

    But it may be that the political system is set up for only 2 parties.

    With my political views I would like to see an end to the current Republican party, which I think is very corrupted, and the Democratic party to split into 2 parties.

    One of the major problems has been the silencing of the left's point of view...but it looks like the right has created so many problems and made so many mistakes the people are looking for new solutions.

    One of the amusing reactions to the right's demonization of opposing views is that a growing percentage of Americans like the idea of socialism. I doubt whether most know what socialism is..but they want universal health care and the right has called that socialism.

    Now the right has to use a new pejorative..and it looks like fascism is the new word for any one opposing the right.

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  • 16. At 10:22pm on 28 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    And, to continue, while provocative, the rest of this posting is wrong. I'm a lifelong PA native, and on the ground here Justin's picture is backward.

    The Republican Party in the state already changed, to the point that it was nothing like the organization I joined in the 1980s. Sen. Specter was facing a challenger- and well behind in the Republican polls in the primary- who catered to the hyperconservative, Bush-era new Republicans. With PA in a closed primary system, only Republicans could vote, so the candidates have to cater to the conservative wing.

    The irony is that while Toomey was likely to bury Specter in the primary, there is almost no way he could have beaten even a mediocre Democrat in the General Election.

    Sen. Specter was simply unwilling to compromise his principles any more to suck up to the vindictive wing of the party. He has long been one of the few, brave voices willing to speak his own piece even if it bucks party consensus. He'll continue to do so with the Democrats. Although I certainly don't agree with everything he does, he's about as close as we can get to an honest politician.

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  • 17. At 10:29pm on 28 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    15. At 10:14pm on 28 Apr 2009, bethpa wrote:
    I'd like to see 3 political parties in the US..a conservative, a moderate and a liberal party.

    But it may be that the political system is set up for only 2 parties.
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Initially it was set up for NO political parties. Our founding fathers distrusted political parties. But they evolved anyway..

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

    But it may be that the political system is set up for only 2 parties.

    With my political views I would like to see an end to the current Republican party, which I think is very corrupted, and the Democratic party to split into 2 parties.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    That actually happened once after the Federalist Party died, factions in the Republican Party split into the Democratic Party and the Whig, when the Wings Died, the Modern Republican Party took its place. Ironically there is a new Whig Party that seems to be growing at the grass roots level. You never know what will happen thought.

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  • 18. At 10:30pm on 28 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    bethpa (#15), there were 24 candidates for US President in the 2008 election. There is no shortage of parties or candidates. The dominance of two parties is merely a consequence of the manner in which we elect members of Congress and the President and VP.

    A substantial fraction of the electorate consider themselves independent anyway. The parties have realigned before and they could do so again.

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  • 19. At 10:31pm on 28 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    9, Sam -

    Being an independent, leaning Democrat, I have often voted a split ticket: for Charles Mathias when I lived in Maryland; for John Warner back when he refused to endorse Oliver North when I lived in Virginia; for Jim Jeffords when I moved to Vermont; even for our dufus governor Douglas when the Democrat running was even more of a dufus. So I understand your sadness. It's sad to not have much of a choice.

    12, Via-Media -

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about the use of divisive words. I first heard the opposition characterized as "the enemy" from George Allen back when he was running for the Senate in Virginia. It shocked me at the time. Now it has become commonplace, though at least we don't have George Allen to kick around anymore since he said something even worse and kicked himself right out of the arena.

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  • 20. At 10:37pm on 28 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    ASF (#17) "Initially it was set up for NO political parties. Our founding fathers distrusted political parties. But they evolved anyway."

    True, but that lasted through only one president. George Washington was the only consensus choice for president. Since then, parties came into play because they are a natural means of achieving political objectives.

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  • 21. At 10:41pm on 28 Apr 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Spector a Democrat? That's one conservative Democrat.

    'Defect' is ok. The word has a strong association with the cold war, but it still has its original meaning. It does not imply "enemy" necessarily.

    From Dictionary.com:

    4. to desert a cause, country, etc., esp. in order to adopt another (often fol. by from or to): He defected from the U.S.S.R to the West.

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  • 22. At 10:50pm on 28 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    There are actually about 50 parties listed on the Federal Election Commission web site. The exact number is a little difficult to arrive at, because a few of the entries on the list are not actually parties, and because there is some overlap. For example, Democratic-Farmer-Labor in Minnesota is the same as Democratic everywhere else, for purposes of electing the president. Seems to me there is something for everyone.

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  • 23. At 10:50pm on 28 Apr 2009, LAshutterbug wrote:

    This is more of an embarrassment to the Republicans than a strategic defeat, as Spector has stated clearly that he's going to vote with his own mind and will not be in lock-step with the Dems on every issue...which is pretty much the same stance he has historically had with his old party. If the Dems want their filibuster-proof majority they're going to need more than Spector and Al Franken to get it.

    (15) "One of the amusing reactions to the right's demonization of opposing views is that a growing percentage of Americans like the idea of socialism. I doubt whether most know what socialism is..but they want universal health care and the right has called that socialism."

    I don't think most Americans know what true Socialism is either, since from 1980 onwards the right has without letup perpetuated the idea that public policy even just a millimeter to the left of Reagan automatically qualifies as pinko, ultra-liberal free-love hippie anarchist atheist Bolshevik communist 1984 end-of-Western-civilization slavery. Give me a break...this sort of of take no prisoners, victory at all costs, scorched-earth political/religious/social fearmongering dogma is what has thrown the Republican party into the area of increasing irrelevancy. Meghan McCain is 100% spot on...the old guard of Cheney, Rove, Gingrich, etc. just DOESN'T GET IT. Looks like this could be the proverbial 40 years in the Wilderness for the GOP...maybe that will be enough time for that fat, bloated, doddering political elephant to slim down and provide leadership that looks forward, rather than fawning over the obsolete glories of the past.

    (Oh, and by the way...GOP does not stand for God's Ordained Party. That realization is step #1 to liberating the party from the religious extremists who currently hold it hostage.)

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  • 24. At 10:51pm on 28 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    21, AndyPost -

    But "desert" has its own negative connotations. It is rarely used in a complimentary or even neutral manner.

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  • 25. At 10:55pm on 28 Apr 2009, Meshktenye wrote:

    It's too bad Mr. Hill wasn't around in Pennsylvania since the late 1940's and 50's, (politically), because this state has always been a stanchion of Republican support ever since Eisenhower took office with Nixon as his VP. The populus of the state HAS changed dramatically, from the weak - promises, promises...always promises....of the republican party- to the Democratic ticket (as was evident when the state went for Obama in the 2008 election). We are tired of the same old rhetoric of the Bushenomics (like everyone else), so we (the people) changed....for a change. If Mr. Spector (who is a bastion of political power in his own right), wants to change to the winning side, he is definitely entitled to do that!

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  • 26. At 10:56pm on 28 Apr 2009, JohnTheBus wrote:

    Specter turned on the GOP because he wants to achieve 30 years in the house. He has said as much. Any other comment is missing the point. He did it for SELF INTEREST. Period.

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  • 27. At 11:00pm on 28 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:



    "If God were back, Mr. Specter would still be a Republican..."

    Im sorry, but that premise is flawed; it has nothing to do with God.
    Senator Specter left the party because he cant win the Republican primary.
    Republicans did not like that Specter helped Democrats pass the $787 billion stimulus bill in February.
    And polling shows he cant win the general election as an Independent.
    Specter became a Democrat because he does not want to be held accountable to the people who elected him and his only chance to continue his decades long service in Congress is to win the Democratic primary and then the general election.
    I suspect that the power of incumbency will trump everything else, but it will be a tough election season for him.
    It worked out well for Lieberman though didnt it?
    -He still won.

    Spector should remember that he isn't entitled to his seat in the Senate.
    The voters of his district give him that seat, and if the Dems vote enough to give it back to him, then it is their choice.

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  • 28. At 11:01pm on 28 Apr 2009, independant_fozzy wrote:

    To be honest, this changes little other than the letter behind the guys name and perhaps the fact that he's old. Now that he's decided to become an "official" Democrat, should he retire would he seat be auto-filled by another of the same party? That's the only real difference.

    There's no other reason for him to start voting differently. He's been voting along Democratic lines for a while now.

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  • 29. At 11:02pm on 28 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    The gubernamental mismanagement of the past 8 years produced more than just economic and fiscal woes, violation of national and international laws, erosion of civil rights, and fraud and abuse (sole source contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, lack of oversight, millions of dollars spent on unfinished projects, etc); it also influenced the need to reflect and reconsider the excesses that have almost destroyed the Republican party.

    Arlen Specter is not the only Republican politician disillusioned with what happened during the Bush era, and regardless of whether they leave the GOP because of ideological reasons or to save their political carriers I expect more to switch party affiliation before 2010. I am surprised, however, by his decision to become a Democrat instead of choosing the less controversial Independent position, which may have allowed him to retain the support of many moderate Republicans in Pennsylvania.

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  • 30. At 11:02pm on 28 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    24 bere
    21 AndyPost

    Language is fraught with shades of shades of shades of meanings. The Republican leadership was speaking from the heart, I'm sure, and that's troublesome to me. The rest of the snippet of McConnell's (?) speech went even further into the apocalyptic cant in a way that nauseates me.

    For the record, the far left also can wax ridiculous, but not as frequently.

    And bere, you're right, I don't think anyone would care to be called a deserter. For the U.S. military, esp., where it is still a felony offense.

    And, during the Cold War, defectors were exclusively from the Communist Bloc. Defection connotes leaving someplace from whence you're not allowed to leave, so though journalists were sometimes careless w. their word choice (such as here, sorry, Justin) you don't defect from someplace that allows you to leave.

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  • 31. At 11:06pm on 28 Apr 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 32. At 11:18pm on 28 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Via-Media (#30) "Defection connotes leaving someplace from whence [sic] you're not allowed to leave."

    Where did you get that idea?

    http://www.bartleby.com/61/3/D0090300.html

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  • 33. At 11:24pm on 28 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    29 saintDominick

    Being an Independent candidate in PA is next to impossible. Not only do you lose the fundraising advantage, the closed primaries mean that he'd be completely shut out of the primaries, and have little reason to attract press attention during the primary season.

    I think it's a wise move, because it will win support from even more moderates in the general election, too.

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  • 34. At 11:28pm on 28 Apr 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Perhaps we should ask Gerry Adams to give you a call..

    "He hasn't gone away, you know.."

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  • 35. At 11:29pm on 28 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    This is all about Specter remaining Senator. It will be interesting to see if democrats in PA will vote for him in the primary, especially if he bucks the party line. I think he should have gone Independent, like Joe Lieberman.




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  • 36. At 11:33pm on 28 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    I wonder now if the Minnosotans will become more hard-nosed about confirming Franken. Although normally I would not be in favor of one party having a clear field, in this case it is necessary. We have too many problems to solve, and the Republican stance does not consider the welfare of the nation. Thank you Senator Specter for helping to break the impasse.

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  • 37. At 11:35pm on 28 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    35, rodidog.

    Please don't put Specter in the same class as Lieberman. It is my great hope that Connecticut will not reelect that war monger.

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  • 38. At 11:37pm on 28 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    33, Via.
    "I think it's a wise move, because it will win support from even more moderates in the general election, too."

    And the independents, who tend to be more educated than the general electorate.

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  • 39. At 11:44pm on 28 Apr 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    16. At 10:22pm on 28 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    "The Republican Party in the state already changed, to the point that it was nothing like the organization I joined in the 1980s. Sen. Specter was facing a challenger- and well behind in the Republican polls in the primary- who catered to the hyperconservative, Bush-era new Republicans. With PA in a closed primary system, only Republicans could vote, so the candidates have to cater to the conservative wing.

    The irony is that while Toomey was likely to bury Specter in the primary, there is almost no way he could have beaten even a mediocre Democrat in the General Election."

    Couldn't agree more.

    Tried to make this point before, too -- Electoral reforms are long overdue, such as

    non-partisan re-districting with the explicit objective of reducing the number of "safe" seats; and

    a prohibition on closed primaries.

    The Republican party under Eisenhower was a very different beast. Now it is reduced to a slavishly obedient rump held hostage to the money of the hydrocarbon industries and the necessity of seeking campaign workers among the religicon foot soldiers. All of which leaves Eisenhower Republicans, namely the thoughtful, center-of-the-road, university educated, innovative, energetic, wealth-creating, Sunday-golfing, wing of the party, out in the cold.

    Into this void walks President Obama.

    And a very pleasant surprise he has been so far, too.

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  • 40. At 11:50pm on 28 Apr 2009, dfriederichs wrote:

    In 1777, he would have been name Benedict Arnold. He's shown his true Chameleon colors as a selfish politician, who neither regards, considers, nor REPRESENTS, those who elected him.

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  • 41. At 11:51pm on 28 Apr 2009, cynic555 wrote:

    What does it mean? .. nothing other than confirm the obvious that Politicians are whores - no they don't sell their bodies - it's worst they sell out their constituents for money.

    To those that think the Democrats are better than the Republicans -- recall that the Democrats had control of both the Senate and the House during the the last two yrs of the Bush administration. That means they controlled the legislature arm of the govt - with that enormous political power please name one positive thing they did that was better than the scum bag Republicans'.

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  • 42. At 11:52pm on 28 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #35

    Dog,

    I don't think so. I was at a dinner party a week or so ago with a few very Republican friends and Sen. Specter came up in conversation. The consensus was that they had to vote for Specter in the primary because the Democrats would find another Bob Casey jr. to run against a further right Republican candidate like Santorum (Latin for 'Place we go when we do not know WTF we are talking about') and that they would lose the seat.

    That said, these were Philadelphia Republicans, not rural PA folk.

    However, I do think this is cause for thought. If Specter, why not Snowe and Collins?

    Sad Sam

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  • 43. At 00:01am on 29 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #37

    Joe Lieberman is a far greater man than your hero Obama will ever be. The Democrats missed a great chance in 2004.

    Libermann would never kiss the ring of a dictator and thug like Hugo Chavez.

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  • 44. At 00:04am on 29 Apr 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    Regard ign Spector:

    There was a speech he did in 2001 criticzing Jim Jeffords switch saing that he would sponser legislation to block a party switch. He used the typicaloutraged political speak.

    We are in danger of losing a crucil check and balance if Franken steals the MN senate seat. Considering the lack of debate the Dems have shown that is a great risk. Fortunatly Tim Polante is not allowing Franken and the MN dems rigged recount to go foward.

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  • 45. At 00:05am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #40

    Fried,

    I elected him, and he represents me. A fat, middle aged church going gun owning PA business man.

    If not me, who? And if they represent PA, I'm a Dutchman.

    Voter Sam

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  • 46. At 00:07am on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re 40

    Um Bennadict Arnold didn't turn traitor until 1780. Not 1777. He would spend the Rest of the War as a General in the British Army but he was never trusted..

    The problem is, the people who tend to vote in the Political primaries are more extreme that the poeple who vote in the general election. It appears as if Specter won't be the only republican who is going to switch sides, it appears as if others will jion them. That would be big trouble for the who will follow.

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  • 47. At 00:44am on 29 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    It's taken a man born in Hawaii, of Kenyan descent, educated in Indonesia to finally help many Americans see what has been going on for the last eight years. Not all Americans granted. There were many critics of the Bush Regime from the pure right, as well as some Dems. Obama must be like a fresh breeze clearing the smog. I'm sure they'll be several more 'crossing the aisle.' However, I expect far more Repubs to step down at the next elections, too ashamed to stand again. They're busy planning their future careers right now.

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  • 48. At 00:47am on 29 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    Ref 43 MagicKirin

    Magic - Interesting remark. Where's the evidence that Chavez is a dictator and a thug?

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  • 49. At 01:06am on 29 Apr 2009, Int-For wrote:

    Test

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  • 50. At 01:14am on 29 Apr 2009, Int-For wrote:

    Ed: is there any truth to the rumour that you fed a macro into the Philosphical Torture thread, like hemlock into the ear, and thereby killed it?
    Is it a Republican plot?
    An echo of Kafka?
    Or maybe Sancho Panza?

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  • 51. At 01:16am on 29 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    Sam,

    I agree with you completely. Better having someone voting with you 50% of the time instead of losing the seat to the other party. I think Snowe & Collins are safe, but who knows? Moderates from each party might have a rough time in the next primary.

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  • 52. At 01:18am on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    Just to set the record straight, Jim Jeffords did not switch parties. He became independent (there is no Independent Party) because he said the Republican Party had left him and had lost its way. He would have easily won reelection after that but retired due to early Alzheimer's symptoms, and now we have Bernie Sanders, the socialist independent.

    Now wait for a certain person to viciously attack Vermont again.

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  • 53. At 01:38am on 29 Apr 2009, ann arbor wrote:

    If Spector is Democrat,
    1) ACORN will not actively use their $350M "stimulus money" to work against him
    2) Minnesota polling precincts will not find bundles of "absentee ballots" in the trunks of their cars, all for the opponent
    3) He will not be prosecuted for torture, or simply not being Democrat
    4) He will not have MSNBC, CNN, or NBC actively working against him
    5) He not be stereotyped and summarily chastised by the bulk of this blog
    6) He will never be held accountable for tax evasion
    7) He may learn from Feinstein how to route $1B "stimulus money" to his spouse's business

    It is a "no brainer".

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  • 54. At 01:38am on 29 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    I think it is important to bear in mind that just because Arlen Specter switched parties it doesn't mean he is going to go along with every democratic proposal. Like most Democrats he will be notorious by his lack of discipline and individualism, which suggests the filibuster option is not out of the question. Don't forget the Reagan Democrats...

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  • 55. At 01:43am on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#39) "a prohibition on closed primaries."

    This can't really happen, except as individual parties are willing to go along with it. A political party in the US is a private enterprise, which is in charge of its own rules. The primaries, however, are funded with state money, and the legislatures of the states are (for the most part) made up of members of the two major parties, so parties (at least the major ones) have become mixed up with the public election process. Nevertheless, an individual political party may choose its nominee by its own rules, and some of them do not want people who are not members of the party participating in the choice of nominee. If a state party operates according to rules which are in conflict with the national party rules, the national party could refuse to seat the delegates of the state at its national convention.

    I lean toward closed primaries as being preferable, myself, although as an independent, I do not vote in primaries, even when the rules permit it.

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  • 56. At 01:47am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    32 Gary

    I was talking about the word's connotations, not the definition. I still think 'defect' connotes more than a bit of flight to freedom.

    38 Marbles

    I agree. I would be one of those independents if I could vote in a primary.

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  • 57. At 01:53am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    39 Int-For (?)

    I find it hard to believe that the party of TR's first efforts toward conservationism has been so corrupted. These days to find the most sound environmental policy, just pick the exact opposite of what the Republican position is. It rankled me even when I was a Republican.

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  • 58. At 01:57am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    45 Sam

    This not middle age Eagle Scout/Cub Scout leader also voted for him, and will do so again.

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  • 59. At 02:05am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #52

    Bere,

    Should Vermont be attacked in such a way again, we of the Justin Web Quick Reaction Force (JWQRF) will quickly leap to defend your freedom and skiing with our pens (OK, keyboards), guns and lives if necessary.

    We will establish Batallion Head Quarters at the Wobbly Barn and await your orders.

    Captain Sam, of the PAJWQRF

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  • 60. At 02:06am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #58

    Amen to that. He's one of the good guys.

    Sam

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  • 61. At 02:06am on 29 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Int-For (50),

    • "Ed: is there any truth to the rumour that you fed a macro into the Philosphical Torture thread, like hemlock into the ear, and thereby killed it?"
    I cannot tell a lie. It was a mercy killing, but unintentional....

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  • 62. At 02:09am on 29 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    If you defect, does that make you defective?

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  • 63. At 02:13am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #48

    Dick,

    I suspect Chavez would like to be a dictator. His attempted coup does sort of indicate that. That he has oppressed dissent is well documented by Amnesty, amongst others.

    However, where I part form Magic is on the ring kissing nonsense. We shake hands with folks we disagree with every day, sometimes we even take nominal gifts from such folks. All that says is 'If we can do business, I will do business. if we can't I'll be civil'.

    What it says to others is 'There's a guy I can do business with. Look how he treats HC, and he's an ass. I want to learn more about this guy'.

    That's a message I appreciate. The guy who says 'My way or the highway' is a poor businessman. We tried that. Didn't go well.

    Real Life Sam

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  • 64. At 02:26am on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    59, Sam -

    I will sleep easier knowing you've got our back.

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  • 65. At 02:38am on 29 Apr 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    'Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.' - Gandhi

    'I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.' - Gandhi

    Many of our politicans use religion and God-talk so people will assume they are of good character without them having to prove it.

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  • 66. At 02:46am on 29 Apr 2009, OldSouth wrote:

    I had the dubious pleasure of watching Specter's press conference.

    He's been so slimy for so long, he can't even begin to recognize that his reasoning ('I can't win a Republican primary, so I'll just sell my soul to keep my seat.') is repugnant.

    Pitiful. And pitiable, if he were just a corrupt old man without the power to do immense harm to the nation.

    Not pitiable.

    Poisonous.

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  • 67. At 02:49am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    65 frayedcat

    The religious wing of the Republican Party might be in jeopardy by their own measures, too: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you shall no reward from your Father who is in Heaven." Matt. 6:1.

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  • 68. At 02:56am on 29 Apr 2009, toughdirtyjoe wrote:

    Specter has lied to the voters in his district. They Voted for a Republican and he sold them out. Pat Toomey will win in 2010 and the anti american far left will lose their majority.

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  • 69. At 02:58am on 29 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    55 and 39

    That is why I prefer the general election/ run-off election system in Louisiana. In most non-Federal elections, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in a general election; if no one gets 50+1% of the votes then the top two candidates go to a run-off election.

    This system has the advantage of reducing partisanship and the power of parties in general, making party switches common and affiliation not so important.
    This happens because 1+ Reps may run against 1+ Dems in the general election; if no one gets 50+1% of the votes and then, say, Dems come in 1st and 2nd, then both Dems go to a run-off election.

    The system has worked for a long time in Louisiana, and I think it is no coincidence that the recent move by some to change to closed primaries has resulted in near historic partisanship between the state parties.

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  • 70. At 02:59am on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    66 -

    I guess "slimy" and "poisonous" describe anyone who doesn't march in lockstep with the far right ultra-radical wing of the Republican Party, anyone who thinks independently and perhaps loves his country more than his party. Interesting.

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  • 71. At 03:01am on 29 Apr 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    And to Western PA 'Lets go Pens', and to Eastern PA 'maybe next year Fliers-you're looking good but your phans are Phat' - sports having a unifying/divisive effect superior to religion. Or is it the same- religion a team sport? Party politics too, of the 'us' and 'them'.

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  • 72. At 03:02am on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    68 -

    Apparently anyone who doesn't fall in with the Republican Party's extreme views is anti-American. Interesting.

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  • 73. At 03:05am on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    I just heard on Countdown this evening that this was the most dramitic twist offered by Arlen Spector since he offered up the magic bullet theory.

    Having said that, this is Dramitic. I love seeing the Republicans in this much disaray.

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  • 74. At 03:05am on 29 Apr 2009, lilbirdhouse wrote:

    This is what the Republican Party has missed - that many churches have rediscovered that Jesus was a Liberal, not a Conservative. This does not negate Republican values as they relate to many Christian values but there are certainly fewer Republican Sprocket cogs presently meshing with the Christian Drive Chain. Clearly, the Republican Party has crashed it's bike on the way to work and is struggling to get itself back on the road.

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  • 75. At 03:08am on 29 Apr 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    'anti-american far left' - HAH and 'anti-american far right' back at ya.
    Its rough being a party weighnk if you're decades out of kindergarten

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  • 76. At 03:09am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    71 frayed

    Backwards: sports are (some people's) religion.

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  • 77. At 03:11am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    68 Umm... Senators have districts?

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  • 78. At 03:19am on 29 Apr 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    #74 ...and JC was consorting with potential terrorists from the Roman perspective

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  • 79. At 03:26am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #68

    Joe,

    He's a Senator, he has a State, not a district.

    Like most Pennsylvanians I voted for a man, not a party. As we say in the US, politics is local.

    If you think Pennsylvania is far left, you have a uniform. And when you come here with it on, you'll discover why we defend the second amendment. 7 of 19 congressmen and no senior state elected officials Republican tells the tale. When Pennsylvania is lost to you, you are out of touch with America.

    Good luck with the program. Till then we'll till our earth, run our businesses, pray each day and thank our Lord we can elect folks who respect our values.

    Peace be with you,

    Sam

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  • 80. At 03:27am on 29 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #77

    Via,

    Euro trash.

    Sad Sam

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  • 81. At 03:44am on 29 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    77

    Yes, well, sort of; Senators represent their entire state.
    And each state has 2 of them.

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  • 82. At 04:35am on 29 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #54, SaintD, I agree with you about Spector. In spite of my digs at him,
    I have to admire him for voting according to his intellect and conscience.

    If we had more people like him in the Senate, the country would be better off.

    I still don't agree with him on the stimulus, though.

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  • 83. At 05:06am on 29 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    A change of party affiliation is hardly a "defection", but it makes an arresting headline - cheap, though.

    Sarah Palin seems to be hanging on - she's not quite the distant memory Justin would have us believe - and despite the plug for his book, religious conservatism is hardly dead in the USA. The Penguin Books site took too long to load, so I can't comment on what was written, but from what Justin quotes, I'd say that God, in various guises, is alive and well in America, especially in the "red" states. In California, which for many years has been solidly Democratic, consider how the religious influenced the vote on Proposition 8. That in itself appears to dash Justin's argument.

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  • 84. At 05:46am on 29 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    82, guns.
    "If we had more people like him in the Senate, the country would be better off."

    Considering the poor quality of most of our congressmen, we are lucky to get Specter. In voting, I hope he continues to behave as an independent.

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  • 85. At 06:00am on 29 Apr 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    84, I believe that he will. If I were his age, I wouldn't care
    what anybody thought.

    This business about him switching over because he can't win in the
    next Republican primary is somewhat bothersome, but I can understand
    why his voting for the stimulus package forced him to move.

    The stimulus package is a huge mistake. How could anything costing
    $1T and being passed by Congress be anything else? But, we all learn
    by our mistakes, and if the American people have to deal with very
    high interest rates and a declining standard of living for years to come
    as a result, then they will have learned something valuable as a result.

    But, I also believe that Spector did what he thought was right, he just
    happened to be wrong, and what do you expect from the guy who invented
    the "magic bullet" theory?

    And, now, if you don't mind, I have a grassy knoll on my property to mow...


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  • 86. At 06:04am on 29 Apr 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    I don't know that I can speak for most Republicans, certainly not for those in Pennsylvania, but for myself - I left the fold out of sheer disgust at what the party had become under Bush, Cheney, Rove and the like.

    Although they espoused conservative fiscal values, they outspent the liberal Democrats. Although they espoused conservative social values, they tortured prisoners, corrupted the justice department, and overturned constitutional principles. Although they claimed to be Christians and 'hearing from God', they gave billions to cronies without asking for accountability or demanding value in return.

    Although they claimed to promote the interests of the working man, the farmer, and the family, they conducted a campaign that mocked us in the characters they constructed for Sarah Palin and 'Joe the Plumber'. Every Republican I saw on the campaign trail demonstrated that he or she had no idea how he voting public lived, or what our interests are.

    They won't get my vote again until they get real. (or the Democrats as a party succumb to the Nancy Pelosi model of partizanship.)

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 87. At 06:29am on 29 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    86, KS.

    People like Pelosi are worrisome, but so is most of the Congress. There is not much to admire there, no matter the party affiliation. None of them are about to give up their perks. So that will hamper Obama. Fortunately he has a freer hand in foreign policy.

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  • 88. At 06:51am on 29 Apr 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    87. At 06:29am on 29 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    86, KS.
    "People like Pelosi are worrisome, but so is most of the Congress."

    I am hoping that some progress is made on the economy, and that the lust for vengeance by the left wing will wear off. Then if there are no tragic errors or embarrassments, Obama's group will gain strength in congress against the Old Guard that Pelosi represents, and the corner will be turned.

    We need 8 years of change in Washington to make this new attitude begin to stick - by then there may be enough accumulated wreckage (which is inevitable) to allow a moderate Republican party to rise and give us a fair and honorable choice again.

    Balance, balance, everything in balance.

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 89. At 07:03am on 29 Apr 2009, JoanneJaffe wrote:

    Senator Spector had not choice. His constituents, moderate Republicans had left the Republican Party. They have re-registered as Democrats who cannot vote in the Republican Primary. That means that only Conservative and Right Wing Republicans are left to vote in the Republican Primary. In the end, Senator Spector, as a moderate had no choice but to follow his constituents and re-register as a Democrat.

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  • 90. At 07:59am on 29 Apr 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    89

    Im sorry, but I have to disagree with you.
    In the end, Senator Spector, as a "moderate", had a choice and he chose political expediency.
    I have no problem with him switching and I wish him luck on the other side, but lets be honest with ourselves.

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  • 91. At 08:09am on 29 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    I'm sure some democrats are giddy with the possibilities, but unchecked power in the hands of one party might remove any semblance of balance, not to mention cover, which could lead to a hard fall. With the myriad of problems coming up, I'm wondering if on the the morning after, democrats might not wish to give Specter back.

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  • 92. At 10:26am on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    91 rodidog

    With our cyclical politics, Democratic overextension and a resulting fall is most likely- 10-12 years? Perhaps because of increased partisanship, our swings have oscillated farther in the last few cycles. With the dual party system dominant, Americans have no choice but to either vote for the same party (keep current policies) or the opposite (change.) It's hard to find middle ground.

    Bush & Co. were the product of such a big swing, and the Republicans had this same overwhelming dominance that led to such disastrous results. So we might very well overcompensate in the other direction...

    But, we've survived it before, and sometimes in crisis, united leadership is a key...

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  • 93. At 10:35am on 29 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Rule by parties is the poison in democracies. The more independent minds involved, the better. This was the nature of the original Continental Congress, which has been steadily corroded by the "realities" of party politics

    Good luck to Senator Specter (and all whose constituents vote the Person over the Party) and here's hoping for a "new politics", however slow and difficult its emergence.

    Yes we can!
    ;-)

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  • 94. At 10:54am on 29 Apr 2009, DavidHankey wrote:

    I've no problem that Specter has switched horses, however, what about all those individuals who vote for him as a Republican? Surely, they must feel aggrieved that their support for the Republicans is now denied.

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  • 95. At 11:21am on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    At first I thought that L.A. had come to play, and Phil spector had run off to China to avoid jail for murdering an actress.

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  • 96. At 11:24am on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    But then I looked closer and realised that a politician had taken radical steps in the hope of re-election.

    I concur with the cynical line that Specter has simply made his own best choice for his own re-election.
    If his reasons were altruistic or policy based he could have become an independent .... or perhaps have left the GOP during the Bush administration.

    However politics is always a dirty business. The age of the politicain who cares is long long gone. So cynicism has become reality.

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  • 97. At 11:30am on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Perhaps one of you can enlighten me on a couple of things about American political jargon...

    1) GOP - Grand Old Party (I believe) ... why is it called this and did they name themselves (modestly) ?

    (incidentaally in parts of England "gopping" or "gopper" are unpleasant slang for an unattractive woman ;-)


    2) red and blue colours for the parties.
    When did the colours become associated with the parties, and why is red for republicans when it is traditionally hte colour of the left (red flag) and blue for democrats when it is the colour of the right/aristocracy (blue blood).


    3) asses and elephants ..... why?

    An aside - I first came across the elephant/republican thing on a comedy show in the 80s when Ollie North was testifying in Iran/Contra stuff ... he kept saying "I do not recall" - and they said elephants never forget.

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  • 98. At 12:12pm on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    RE 97

    I think they named themselves the Grand Ol Party. According to Wikipedia the the Republican Website says that the term Gallant Old Party first appeared in 1875. Wikipedia also sites the Oxford English Dictionary as stating the first reference to Grand Old Party appeared a year later. here is the Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_(United_States)#Name_and_symbols

    AS for the REd STates Blue State here is what happened, In the late 80's the color were reversed where the Dem's colors were red and the Republicans were represented as Blue. However the next election cycle they reversed the color code. That didn't become really entrenched untill the 2000 Election when the outcome to weeks to decide.

    As for the Party Symbols they date back to the 19th Century and Political Cartoonist named Thomas Nast, who drew these characterizations in part because the Republicans would not allow the country to forget what happened and the Democratic leadership at the time was stuborn. The Symbols stuck to the Point where the Republican Symbol is an Elephant and the official symbol of the Democratic Party is a Donkey.

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  • 99. At 12:28pm on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Here is an article on the Democratic Party which should explain some of your questions Rome Stu

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States)#Name_and_symbols

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  • 100. At 1:50pm on 29 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    94 DavidHankey wrote:

    "I've no problem that Specter has switched horses, however, what about all those individuals who vote for him as a Republican? Surely, they must feel aggrieved that their support for the Republicans is now denied."

    I think you have a point. This issue often comes up eg in the UK when someone moves from one party to another - eg it's often argued that such people should resign and run for re-election.

    Having said that - I think there would be much more cause for anger if he'd only just run as a Rep then suddenly changed coats - and people were stuck with him for c 6 years.

    AFAIK, he has to run for reelection next year. Which means his constituents will have a chance to pass their own verdict relatively soon. If they want another Rep, they can elect one.

    PS I enjoy your work on South Park ;-)

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  • 101. At 2:02pm on 29 Apr 2009, kasichana wrote:

    Justin, I enjoy reading your column but I disagree with your assessment that God is not back because it suggests that the Republican party is the sole defender of faith. I think people still believe in God but are just more moderate in their expression of faith.

    A recent study shows that Americans are not losing their religion, just changing it.
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/27/changing.religion.study/index.html?iref=newssearch

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  • 102. At 2:07pm on 29 Apr 2009, arclightt wrote:

    @88 (KSC): I think your time schedule is too short because the children of the 60s still hold too many high places in Washington, and will for too long, and Obama gives them too much deference. I suspect 20-25 years is more like it.

    @91 (rodidog): I agree that they are giddy. The main question in my mind is how far they are going to overreach, and how fast. Overreaching, though, is inevitable; it happens whenever one group has complete control of the legislative and executive branches. Also, their supporters will egg them on to greater and greater amounts of overreach. All this should (if history is any guide) lead to a backlash in 8-12 years. There's no reason to point to 2010 or 2012, IMO; that's probably too soon.

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  • 103. At 2:34pm on 29 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:

    "If God were back, Mr Specter would still be a Republican"

    I don't think religion went away of late, or made a comeback in the first place. The US right's appropriation of religious conservatism was - like the exploitation of Islam by others across the globe - political first, religious second if at all. But the far right never had a monopoly of God, as Obama demonstrated, and I think we'll see more unravelling of the "God's Own Party" fraud as time passes. A few more juicy Bush-era scandals might help the process along (remember Saipan?). Republicans & sleaze make a far stronger pairing even than guns & God.

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  • 104. At 2:45pm on 29 Apr 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Washington D.C. is a cesspool. Not a single person in congress ever took any responsbility for the financial crisis and the lack of action by congress to identify the problems before they occured, in other words. their job. It seems to be the one topic neither side wishes to discuss, responsbility, role of congress and why no action was taken prior to the crisis. I guess because it was the retirement plans (401Ks) of workers that took the hit. In most matters there is but one party, the party of monied interest and influence peddlers. It really doesn't matter what Specter does, it is just a magic show for the public. Nothing has really changed in congress they remain the self-interested politicians representing greed and corporate corruption. After all the high sounding legislation is watered down it will be business as usual. They all realize that the public has no interest in holding any of them accountable for their failures and betrayals. It is the reality show called "Bought Government." America doesn't need a thrid party, a second one would do.

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  • 105. At 2:59pm on 29 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Ref: #96. RomeStu

    "However politics is always a dirty business."

    Yes - but it needn't be. Imagine it without the parties. Without Labour and Conservative parties. Without Democrat and Republican parties. Without whips and party lines. Instead consider a house of independents, who vote solely on merits. Who are accountable to their constituents - not to a political party.


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  • 106. At 3:06pm on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    98 ameicansportfan

    thank you for the explanations - very interesting.

    One thing about the red/blue thing intrigues me ... was it the media who decided the colours, or the parties themselves.
    If it was the media .... hold on to your tinfoil hats now .... it must be a conspiracy by the socialist, anarchist, atheist, communist etc etc ad infinitum people at CNN and PBS to make the republicans look red, and the democrats look blue. Wow, man, it's all true .... there's a plot.

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  • 107. At 3:15pm on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    53. youngasterix wrote:
    "If Spector is Democrat,
    1) ACORN will not actively use their $350M "stimulus money" to work against him
    2) Minnesota polling precincts will not find bundles of "absentee ballots" in the trunks of their cars, all for the opponent
    3) He will not be prosecuted for torture, or simply not being Democrat
    4) He will not have MSNBC, CNN, or NBC actively working against him
    5) He not be stereotyped and summarily chastised by the bulk of this blog
    6) He will never be held accountable for tax evasion
    7) He may learn from Feinstein how to route $1B "stimulus money" to his spouse's business

    It is a "no brainer"."



    I don't know how much of your brain is left under your tinfoil hat, but it seems to me that you've been drinking a little bit too much "magic potion".
    Ask the druid to fix you something to stop your hallucinations.

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  • 108. At 3:20pm on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    73. AmericanSportFan wrote:
    "I just heard on Countdown this evening that this was the most dramitic twist offered by Arlen Spector since he offered up the magic bullet theory."


    I had no idea that since Des and Carol left the show that it had moved away from anagrams and into politcal analysis. I'll tune back in.

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  • 109. At 3:26pm on 29 Apr 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    105. At 2:59pm on 29 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    Yes - but it needn't be. Imagine it without the parties. Without Labour and Conservative parties. Without Democrat and Republican parties. Without whips and party lines. Instead consider a house of independents, who vote solely on merits. Who are accountable to their constituents - not to a political party."


    But that is not what would happen.

    Without Political parties others would step in. Then you would have your microsoft congreessmen, your GM Senators.

    Thre would be no independent politicians but politicians for hire.

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  • 110. At 3:33pm on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    It is interesting to note the parallels between the 2008 election in the USA and the 1997 New Labour victory in the UK.

    Both featured young leaders, who were relatively new to the high echelons of their respective parties.

    Both followed on from disastrous and unpopular previous administrations (although I draw no parallel between Bush and Major)

    Both saw a few "defections" (see link below).
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]


    In both cases there is a "keeping the seat" argument, and it would be wonderful to also ascribe some altruism to the defectors, but only time will tell that.

    Either way, the results lead to a major change of direction, hopefully for the better. But a warning to Obama - Tony Blair was almost unbelievably popular at the beginning, and was seen by his supporters as some sort of political saviour, and look what has happened to Britain i the last 12 years.
    Obama must not take his eye off the ball and get side-tracked as Blair did, and most importantly must not believe the hype about himself, as Blair came to do. Blair now sees himself as some kind of saviour (look at his faith foundation and futile attempts to resolve the middle east problems).

    I hope Obama's feet are firmy enough on the ground that he does not forget who he is, and who is there to serve. So far I'm still very impressed ... just slightly wary as I've been caught out before....

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  • 111. At 3:36pm on 29 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    105 richardSM
    "Instead consider a house of independents, who vote solely on merits. Who are accountable to their constituents - not to a political party."


    A wonderful dream. I love the idea. It sounds just like democracy is supposed to be.
    Where will we find all these independent politicians?

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  • 112. At 3:46pm on 29 Apr 2009, gordonclifford wrote:

    Arlen Specter's move is that of a political coward. He only jumped because he is unelectable as a Republican. He thinks that switching will retain his Senate seat for him. What if it doesn't? What if people see him for the political opportunist he really is? This is the second time he has switched parties. Who can trust him now? And who is to say that his seat won't stay solidly Republican anyway? Personally, I regard his actions as a betrayal of those who voted for him. Perhaps he should really consider resigning and refighting the seat against a Republican? Fat chance, eh!? I have no axe to grind - as a non-citizen, I have no vote.

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  • 113. At 4:05pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    gary come on are you serious about the number of parties in the states.


    Think what you like we had 2 choices in the end.

    The system is organised that way.

    How many parties were debating in those debates on TV.

    How exactly is the monster raving loony party going to do here in the USA.

    How would they get their voice out.

    Nice theory. but the reality is different.

    Take the money out.
    make all advertising of politics and those hate vids illegal.

    give free time to all candidates.

    GnR it seems reading some of the posts that I am not the only one to say the party lost God when it got into war and torture.

    And it seems some of them may have been GOP before.

    STU opps now I wasn't saying that in all those posts where I put GOPpers in;)


    And lol getafix

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  • 114. At 4:12pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    gordon (#112), as a non-citizen you seem to take an inordinate interest in US politics. Why is changing parties cowardice? It's just politics. The Republicans don't intend to renominate him, so he is seeking nomination elsewhere. This is entirely reasonable to me, if he is not ready to retire. As for "betrayal of those who voted for him," that's nonsense. Senators represent states, not parties. There is nothing in a party nomination which obligates someone to run under that party banner in subsequent elections.

    This kind of attitude is usually sour grapes motivated by resentment felt by those in a dwindling party, in this case Republicans. Coming from one who is not even a member of the electorate, it's peculiar.

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  • 115. At 4:20pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Via-Media (#77), actually, a couple of states have senatorial districts, but not Pennsylvania.

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  • 116. At 4:28pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Via-Media (#56), the connotation of "defect" fits the situation well, as is evident from some of the opinions expressed in this thread. Some people consider it a very serious matter when an elected official changes parties. Look up the statement of the Republican chairman.

    My mother is what is called a "rock-ribbed" Republican. One of our Senators, Wayne Morse, left the Republican Party in the 1950s. She still refers to him as "that turncoat!".

    To adapt an old saying, Hell hath no fury like a (Republican) scorned.

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  • 117. At 4:40pm on 29 Apr 2009, ArthurofKansas wrote:

    Senator Specter has been out of step with Republicans for years but changing parties is usually political suicide. Clearly, this was done out of desperation as the Republican Party seems to go the way of the Whigs. That’s probably premature, but Republicans need to redefine themselves: just as they could not run on abolition forever, their recent ideology doesn’t resonate anymore.

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  • 118. At 4:59pm on 29 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    94, David.
    "I've no problem that Specter has switched horses, however, what about all those individuals who vote for him as a Republican? Surely, they must feel aggrieved that their support for the Republicans is now denied."

    IMany of the Republicans that voted for him were moderates like Specter himself. He would probably not lose their votes. So those votes might put him over the top when he runs as a Democrat.

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  • 119. At 4:59pm on 29 Apr 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    Ref #109 Simon21

    "Without Political parties others would step in. Then you would have your microsoft congreessmen, your GM Senators." That's because of the perverse system that has developed. Change it. Its not working. Its broken - so fix it. No need for huge, expensive campaign trails. It shouldn't be based on those who've been given the most money from corporations. Its the candidates experience, integrity, ability, and views. Legislate for the media to publish/broadcast each candidates profile and position on the issues/ideologies ahead of elections.


    Ref # 111 Romestu

    "Where will we find all these independent politicians?" They stand at election time. Some of them even succeed - Martin Bell, Dr. Richard Taylor, George Galloway. But if political parties in their present form were abolished, then all candidates would be independent. Simplistically, imagine a clockface of issues. A candidate would declare he/she is pro 2, pro 5 and pro 11. Anti 3, 4 and 9. Moderate on 6, 10, 12. Open minded or has conditions to support 1,7 and 8. In the house, loose unity groups would form to support common causes, but find themselves in different groups on other issues.


    Back to topic and Specter Defector, there is no significance to this and no conclusions can be drawn. Specter is at the very end of his career. He has taken no gamble and stands to lose nothing. Had he been a younger man, it might have been more newsworthy. We've had a similar protest resignation in Britain by Alice Mahon. She's 71 years old. Its not ageism on my part, but lets not get excited by people who wish to end their careers with a dab of apparent conviction.

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  • 120. At 5:27pm on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re 106

    It was pretty much the media who chose the color schemes after the 2000 election as in 2000 Every Media Outlet used Red for Republican and Blue for Democrat. The Parties themselves have never officially adopted the colors though.

    Nor have they "officially" adopted the symbols.

    Still the Democrats have more symbols than the republican and can claim at least two Songs as semi official Party anthems. "Happy Days Are Here Again" has been used by the Party ever since 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt used in his campaign against Herbert Hoover. For the last couple of Election Cycle's, we've also been using "Beautiful Day" by U2. 'To my knowledge the Republicans have no official or semi offical song,

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  • 121. At 5:36pm on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re 117

    The Republicans seem to be at war with themselves as the Religious Right and social conservatives have in effect taken over the Party, this is the wing of the Party which is defined by Fixed News and such on air personalies as Rush Limbaugh, (De facto leader of the Republican Party at the moment) Glen Beck, Rill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malikan, and Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingram. When you have Media personalities running your political Party, you are in trouble. Deep trouble.

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  • 122. At 6:04pm on 29 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    105 Richard_SM wrote:

    "Ref: #96. RomeStu / "However politics is always a dirty business."/Yes - but it needn't be. Imagine it without the parties. Without Labour and Conservative parties. Without Democrat and Republican parties. Without whips and party lines. Instead consider a house of independents, who vote solely on merits. Who are accountable to their constituents - not to a political party."

    People often say this, but I don't know of any democracy where political parties haven't developed. Even if all elected officials started as independents, those with similar views would naturally tend to work together.

    From what I have seen in Ireland and the UK, though you occasionally get an independent who is genuinely independent, quite often they are just people who have left a party for some reason.

    I think you also mentioned earlier the possibility of more than 2 parties in the US - or, more to the point, more than 2 parties with a reasonable chance of winning seats. The 'first past the post' system in the US, and indeed the UK, rather militates against this - it tends to be v hard for anyone from a minor party, let alone an independent, to get elected.

    Proportional representation [PR] systems, such as we have here, are more favourable to small parties and independents - but they tend to have their own drawbacks.

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  • 123. At 6:10pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    120 LOL that is because when the republicans use a song the artists tend to object.

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  • 124. At 6:13pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    on the changing parties.

    how come Spectre is so derided.

    he seems like a fairly rational version of an old politician.

    OK but it seems some think him evil for swapping, or what about his voters.

    Well lieberman.

    ready to deride him now.

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  • 125. At 6:13pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    marbles I know you will.lol

    And good on you for it.

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  • 126. At 6:14pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    now spectre has defected we should send bond after him.

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  • 127. At 6:44pm on 29 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #114. Gary_A_Hill: "gordon (#112), as a non-citizen you seem to take an inordinate interest in US politics. . . . coming from one who is not even a member of the electorate, it's peculiar."

    Perhaps Gordon is a tax-paying Permanent Resident who has not lived in the US long enough to be eligible for naturalization. Just because someone cannot vote does not mean to say they do not have - or cannot have - a lively interest in American politics. If Gordon does not live in the USA, the comment would have validity, otherwise it was an unusually harsh observation.

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  • 128. At 6:47pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    john-in-Dublin (#122), you have a better grasp of this than most Americans, who typically don't understand political dynamics very well. Your observation about political parties developing in every democratic system is correct; they do so because a political party essentially is nothing more than people choosing to work together for a common purpose.

    We (in the US) tend to have two dominant parties because we elect our president. A third party does not have a reasonable chance of electing a president, so the third dominant group tends to become a faction in one of the two major parties instead.

    In a parliamentary system where members are elected to single-member districts, as in the UK and Canada, there tend to be more than two significant parties, but only a few. This is because third and fourth parties can have regional strength which allow them to win seats. A third party in parliament can participate in the choice of executive through a coalition when the first party is weak, so third parties become practical.

    It is the proportional systems which sometimes lead to a multiplicity of parties in parliament. Sometimes this works well enough, as in Denmark. Then there's Italy. I don't know how it works in the Republic of Ireland, but I think anyone who thinks this would work well in the US isn't thinking very clearly. It would be worse than Italy.

    As for the UK, I understand there are some advocates of proportional representation there, presumably members of minor parties who don't have political power. The UK is the very model of stable government, and some would change it? What are they thinking?

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  • 129. At 6:52pm on 29 Apr 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re 126

    for the Record, Bond can't set foot in the US seeing that he's wanted in question with regards to the current scandal on torture.

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  • 130. At 6:52pm on 29 Apr 2009, MrDumbface wrote:

    To gordonclifford (post 112): As a registered voter and citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I must, with all due respect, disagree with your claim that Sen. Specter's switch in parties constitutes a "betrayal of those who voted for him." Pennsylvanians are notorious for being independent-minded ticket-splitters, and they have not supported Sen. Specter for five terms simply because he is a Republican. Pennsylvania has a long history of supporting moderate candidates from both parties: examples include former Sen. John Heinz, former Gov. Bob Casey, former Gov. Tom Ridge, and current Sen. Bob Casey Jr. Keep in mind that Sen. Specter won reelection in 1992 and 1998, two years that were bad for Republicans nation-wide, and has enjoyed enormous popularity, despite the fact that a Pennsylvania has not supported a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Sen. Specter has succeeded in spite of his partisan affiliation, not because of it.

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  • 131. At 6:58pm on 29 Apr 2009, sean33z wrote:

    I remember when Arlen was a prominent Republican during Jack Kennedy's Administration. He served the Commonwealth well during the last several decades in the United States Senate. The Bush Administration destroyed the conservative values of morality, frugality, and prosperity. I hope Arlen is very successful during the Obama Administration.

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  • 132. At 7:01pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    David (#127) " ... otherwise it was an unusually harsh observation."

    Perhaps, but I think newcomers should study a little US civics first before telling us how our system should work, and calling a distinguished Senator a "coward." US citizens could stand to study civics too, for that matter.

    After looking at gordon's post on the newer thread, I don't think I was harsh enough.

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  • 133. At 7:01pm on 29 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    #92 Via-Media & #102 arclightt,

    I think 10-12 years is wishful thinking. In a normal political cycle this might hold true. If unemployment is at 10-11% in November 2010, which seems likely, those in power could have it rough in the polls.



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  • 134. At 7:24pm on 29 Apr 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    133 rodidog

    That depends on how much we as a nation have changed. If past precedents are any measure and the economic crisis persists, we're liable to see the Democrats entrenched for at least the next 2 election cycles. Especially if the Republicans can't start reinventing themselves.

    If things move at a faster pace now, then yes, it's possible that the Democrats will assume the mantle of invincibility early... and pride goeth before the fall.

    130 Mr. Dumbface Very nicely stated! Things sometimes look a lot different from the inside, and I don't see a whole lot of anguish here in PA over the good Senator's decision.

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  • 135. At 7:39pm on 29 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    129

    Nah that was felix lighter.

    132 Gary

    I'm with you.
    this guy reminds me of the sort that it is hard to take seriously, because there seems to be little truth in the comment posted here.

    ie I don't think they are truthful about their views before the election. just politically sensitive to say the right escape clauses before attacking with their own strangeness




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  • 136. At 8:09pm on 29 Apr 2009, Kay wrote:

    The funny thing about this is that the guy the GOP was going to run against Specter--Pat Toomey--makes Rick Santorum look like a liberal. The only ones who will vote for Toomey in the general election are Republicans...which means that seat will go Democratic anyway.

    Instead of using this as a what-are-we-doing-wrong moment, the GOP is as usual burying its head in the sand and refusing to think about why not only Specter but 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (like me) have defected because of the party's move to the far right. No, that's not a typo. 200,000 moderates who can no longer abide by the religious right's coup d'etat of the GOP; 200,000 rational, thinking people who are tired of the "Party First" mentality.

    The GOP is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Until the GOP moderates its views, it will continue to be the minority party and will be relegated to the fringes of the American political system.

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  • 137. At 9:06pm on 29 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    #136 PAKatie,

    The GOP is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Until the GOP moderates its views, it will continue to be the minority party and will be relegated to the fringes of the American political system.

    With absolute power, democrats will increasingly move to the left. Where does that leave moderates? Perhaps a third (moderate) party can come out of the wood work and become a viable option. I doubt it though, most likely moderates will continue to switch back and forth as they become dissatisfied with their party de jour.

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  • 138. At 9:44pm on 29 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 137, Rod

    I agree that a third party representing moderate or centrist constituents is desperately needed. In the interim, the only option is to vote for the individual rather than party which, in some ways, is nothing more than a vehicle to provide campaign funds, organization and a common voice.

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  • 139. At 10:30pm on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    I don't understand why anyone would assume the Democrats will move increasingly to the left (unless the assumer is paranoid) since most of them are moderate. Many of the Democrats' policies only seem left to those who are on the far right. Sometimes what some people see as "left wing" are policies that are really just a matter of fairness. Or is fairness now radically left-wing?

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  • 140. At 10:37pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    saintD (#138) "I agree that a third party representing moderate or centrist constituents is desperately needed."

    Who's desperate? Certainly not Democrats of any stripe, as they have control of everything for the first time in a long time. Only moderate Republicans who have been marginalized by those in control of their party, and who are unwilling to switch to the Democratic Party. Here's an article which sheds some light on their current situation:

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=what_ever_happened_to_moderate_republicans

    Their choices are to create the party you want, or to recapture the Republican Party. My reading of this article is that their objective is to restore the Republican Party to its roots rather than split off. This is much easier than starting a new party, and has a greater liklihood of success. Splinter parties have a difficult job. Consider the Libertarian Party, for example. This is one of the better established minor parties, yet many Libertarians (e.g. Ron Paul) chose to remain in the Republican Party last year. The Libertarians got only four tenths of one percent of the vote.

    It's too soon to say, but if the Republicans do poorly a few elections in a row, the chance of the moderates gaining influence increases. A split in the party would require something more fundamental than a poor showing in a few elections to trigger it, as when the parties realigned in the pre-civil war era on the issues of slavery and secession.

    As for independents like myself, although there is no party which I feel represents my views well, I'm certainly not desperate. If there were a party with which I were completely comfortable, it could not elect anyone, so what's the difference?

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  • 141. At 11:00pm on 29 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 140, Gary

    "...so what's the difference?"

    The difference, in my humble opinion, is that we may be able to choose competent Presidents instead of having to choose between the lesser of two evils. More often than not (the last election was a rare exception) we are faced with candidates whose main attribute is their incompetence and whose priorities reflect the interests of the extreme right and left, leaving centrists marginally represented.

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  • 142. At 11:01pm on 29 Apr 2009, Wil wrote:

    Any person that vote along partyline and not what they thing is best for country should not be elected. The media need to educate the people to this. Who care which party the person belongs to, look at what the person voted for.
    For a person to switch party to gain election.... Ditch him fast.

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  • 143. At 11:10pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Here are some more fun facts on party choices, compliments of the Federal Election Commission. I live in California, a large state. We had nine choices for president on the 2008 ballot. Only 36 voters were so "desperate" for more choices that they cast a write-in vote.

    When people say we need another party, I suspect that what they really mean is that they want another party with which they are comfortable, and which has a reasonable chance of winning elections. The second part is the hard part. You can't force people to support your party; if your political views are in the minority, too bad.

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  • 144. At 11:15pm on 29 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    142, Wil_Ng -

    You contradict yourself. If it doesn't matter which party a person belongs to, and if his constituents voted for him and not his party, why should the voters ditch him for switching parties? He's still the same man and will probably continue to vote the way he always has. His party ditched him because he voted for what he thought is best for the country instead of the party line.

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  • 145. At 11:19pm on 29 Apr 2009, towndrunk06 wrote:

    Spectre is a complete and utter weasel. Anyone, Republican or Democrat who switches their affiliations (especially when the two thirds veto over-ride is on the line) cannot be trusted and should be voted out of office. He is doing this completely to save his own skin and stay in the senate, and get a committee appointment.
    If it were truly a matter of "principle" he could have switched to independent.

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  • 146. At 11:20pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    saintD (#141), sure, but you are just talking in platitudes. For me, idealism gave way to pragmatism a long time ago. In a free society, you can't force moderate Republican leaders (or anyone else) to form a new party, and you can't force any existing party to conform to your way of thinking. If you could, you couldn't force anyone to vote for its candidates. If you don't like the choices, you can write someone in or create a new party yourself or run yourself as an independent.

    As for me, I choose to live in the world into which I was born. The things I can change are small things; the rest I can live with.

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  • 147. At 11:44pm on 29 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 143, Gary

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I would love to see three viable parties representing the right, left, and center. In addition to covering the entire political spectrum they would be more apt to nominate competent candidates and propose platforms that are consistent with their ideological leanings.

    Although I am a Democrat, I tend to vote for whomever best represents my views, and have voted for Republican candidates to the Senate, the House and Governorships on numerous occasions.

    I do become frustrated when the choice is between candidates such as George W. Bush and John Kerry. I voted for Kerry, but that was a tough pill to swallow. Yes, there are usually several candidates running for President, but without adequate funding only those representing the two major parties have a realistic chance of winning. Voting for the lesser known is just a Quixotic act that may give some comfort, from a protest vote perspective, but accomplishes nothing.

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  • 148. At 11:58pm on 29 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    saintD (#147) "I would love to see three viable parties representing the right, left, and center."

    Yes, I got that. Now give me a practical suggestion for how you are going to go about achieving your heart's desire. Do you think Tinker Belle is going to wave her magic wand and realign the political landscape to suit your taste?

    Suppose TB obliges you and presto you have three major parties. How do you propose to prevent the members of these parties from realigning themselves into two groups in order to increase their chances of winning elections? Some sort of secret police force? Death squads to remove the "incompetent" candidates? Who will be in charge of these? You?

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  • 149. At 00:18am on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    147, saintDominick -

    We have what you describe on a tiny scale here in Vermont, and there are several parties represented in the legislature. Unfortunately a third party candidate hasn't yet made it to the governor's office but I think it's only a matter of time. We have a strong third party. Often, though, what works on a tiny scale is either unworkable on the large scale or will take a very long time to become effective.

    I share your druthers because usually I am disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans.

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  • 150. At 01:28am on 30 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    #139 bere54,
    I don't understand why anyone would assume the Democrats will move increasingly to the left (unless the assumer is paranoid) since most of them are moderate. Many of the Democrats' policies only seem left to those who are on the far right. Sometimes what some people see as "left wing" are policies that are really just a matter of fairness. Or is fairness now radically left-wing?

    That depends on your definition of moderation and fairness. Perhaps only someone on the far left would think the majority of democrats and their policies are moderate, and those of Republicans are automatically far right.

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  • 151. At 02:28am on 30 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 148, Gary

    I don't expect Tinker Bell or death squads will play a significant or even a marginal role in the eventual emergence of new political parties in the future. Rather, I expect the American people to demand it out of necessity and because of the disgust that many feel when politicians and political parties overreach to achieve their narrow goals.

    There is no logical or legal reason why our presidential election process should be dominated by two large political parties. Frankly, if it was up to me I would demand that candidates running for President renounce membership in their respective political parties when they announce their candidacies; and they should all receive equal funding from the government. Campaign finance reform designed to lessen the influence of special interests would produce candidates committed to the betterment of our society as well as the physical and economic security of our country, instead of those whose top priority is to reciprocate to donors and serve the interests of their political parties.

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  • 152. At 02:29am on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    150, rodidog -

    Since I'm not on the far left, I can't say definitively what they would think. I do know moderate when I see it, whether it be moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans. I happen to understand fairness too. Which is what the far right doesn't understand at all. Unless something really unfair happens to them personally. Then they scream even louder than they do when "others" are treated fairly. Which is pretty damned loud.

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  • 153. At 03:19am on 30 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #150,

    Doggy,

    Generally to see the trend in a party's platform you look to see who is defecting to the other side. When folks like Specter find themselves uder seige in their own party but loved by their electorate, it is an indication their party is moving away from the center.

    And I swear the defection had nothing to do with Mrs Specter meeting a Pirate impersonator a couple of weeks ago at a fundraiser. Next time, full Pirate regalia.

    Arlen will win re-election by 10 points. Just a prediction.

    Sad Sam

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  • 154. At 03:39am on 30 Apr 2009, foxtrottango1 wrote:

    "A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy" - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

    The fact is, the GOP self destruct last November. It became the Party of No, no credibility, no thrust, no brains, no truth, no new ideas, no nothing, nada, no mas, fini, kaput, the end!

    It was just a matter of time before the truth caught up with them.

    But I believe that once a conservative, always a conservative. I don't trust Specter anymore than I thrust Dick Cheney, Condo, Karl Rove, GW Bush and these are just the live ones!

    The truth is, American politics, especially in Washington D.C.,is like a big feedlot auction. The only difference is, bovines, cattle or hogs, are not being auctioned. American politicians are and for the highest bidders.

    But the stench is still the same!

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  • 155. At 04:20am on 30 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    145, towndrunk.
    "He is doing this completely to save his own skin and stay in the senate, and get a committee appointment.
    If it were truly a matter of "principle" he could have switched to independent."

    As an independent he coudl nt have run in the primaries.

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  • 156. At 04:37am on 30 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    101, kasichana.
    "I disagree with your assessment that God is not back because it suggests that the Republican party is the sole defender of faith. I think people still believe in God but are just more moderate in their expression of faith."

    But it was one the Republican Party that made faith central to its platform. And they championed a fundamentalist and evangelical minority that believes in creationism. The Democrats, except for trying not to alienate this somewhat whacky fringe, gave little weight to religion. Perhaps most people, including the more moderate blievers, would prefer not to create a political religious battleground. And let's not forget that the proportion of atheists is growing and is no longer silent.

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  • 157. At 04:47am on 30 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    154, foxtrot.
    "The truth is, American politics, especially in Washington D.C.,is like a big feedlot auction. The only difference is, bovines, cattle or hogs, are not being auctioned. American politicians are and for the highest bidders. But the stench is still the same!"

    Disgustingly true. And even if a politician were to start out honest, the system would corrupt him. I champion halving the number of senators and representatives. We would save untold billions and cut the rot by half.

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  • 158. At 05:41am on 30 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    #152 bere54,

    I do know moderate when I see it, whether it be moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans. I happen to understand fairness too. Which is what the far right doesn't understand at all. Unless something really unfair happens to them personally. Then they scream even louder than they do when "others" are treated fairly. Which is pretty damned loud.

    With all respect, if you're going to claim fairness, you should start by not making declarative statements against millions of people based on political differences. In most cases, it's not the question of fairness, but more a question of the role of government. Instead of missing anything you hold near and dear, I would be happy to continue the question of fairness, if you will provide an example or two of what you believe is unfair.

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  • 159. At 06:27am on 30 Apr 2009, rodidog wrote:

    #153 Sam,

    I like Specter, even if I don't agree with him all the time. It's sad he chose not to fight it out in the primary. With that said, I still think this is more about Specter and less about the party in general. Had the polling shown him ahead, Specter would still be a republican regardless of any perceived platform shift in the party.



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  • 160. At 07:45am on 30 Apr 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #4. foxtrottango1: "A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy" - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

    Disraeli was not speaking of conservatism as a political philosophy, but rather of a Conservative (Party) Government. British and American parties did not and do not have direct parallels.

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  • 161. At 09:53am on 30 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    117. ArthurofKansas wrote:
    "Senator Specter has been out of step with Republicans for years but changing parties is usually political suicide."


    It may be suicide in the USA, but Winston Churchill "crossed the floor" twice and it seemed to work out for him.

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  • 162. At 10:05am on 30 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    128 gary

    That's a good analysis of the raison d'etre for political parties.

    However I would add a couple of things, and they're things I believe the US political system would benefit from.

    1) parties should have a declared platform - a published manifesto of their policy ideas. This would mean that it is not the media who interpret to the public what each party represents.

    2) each candidate in the presidential primaries should publish their personnal manifesto - it would save all that wondering what they really think.

    3) spending should be capped by law in congressional campaigns to allow 3rd party or independent candidates to have a slight chance of election.

    4) electoral college votes should be distributed proportional to votes cast in the state.

    Just my opinion.

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  • 163. At 10:18am on 30 Apr 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    157 marbles
    "Disgustingly true. And even if a politician were to start out honest, the system would corrupt him. I champion halving the number of senators and representatives. We would save untold billions and cut the rot by half."


    Or you could move to centralised party funding on congressional campaigns, with limits on spending in each area.

    This way any political donations could be made ONLY to the party, not to the individual.
    Any benefits, bonuses, sports/opera tickets, or other sweeteners would be declared in a register of interests and taxed as income.

    Just make it look possible and watch the piggies run for their lives...

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  • 164. At 12:44pm on 30 Apr 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Sen. Specter's defection to the Democratic party was prompted by the likely probability that he was not going to win the nomination of his party and he wants to serve another term. I doubt his decision will have a significant impact on the advancement of the Democratic agenda. He is still the same man that voted his conscience when he was a Republican, and in all likelihood he will do the same as a Democrat. However, he may prove to be the key to pass healthcare reform, an initiative he has supported for years. I wonder who is going to champion fair immigration reform...McCain?

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  • 165. At 1:01pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Gary (128),

    • "It is the proportional systems which sometimes lead to a multiplicity of parties in parliament. Sometimes this works well enough, as in Denmark. Then there's Italy...."
    And thn there's [unmentionable]

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 166. At 1:07pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Gary (128 again),

    • "As for the UK, I understand there are some advocates of proportional representation there, presumably members of minor parties who don't have political power. The UK is the very model of stable government, and some would change it? What are they thinking?"
    They are hoping to rid themselves of a situation in which a "government" can have a "filibuster-proof" "majority" on the basis of slightly more than one third of the total popular vote!

    Scotland's Parliament, based upon a hybrid system of proportional representation has begun to show the way forward.

    "Majorities", especially large ones, are absolutely toxic to good democratic government.

    Peace and an end to Parties

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  • 167. At 1:08pm on 30 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 141 saintDominick wrote:

    "More often than not (the last election was a rare exception) we are faced with candidates whose main attribute is their incompetence and whose priorities reflect the interests of the extreme right and left, leaving centrists marginally represented"

    Really?

    Perhaps excluding GWB - who ran as a 'compassionate conservative' - would you really consider eg Kerry, Gore, Dole, Clinton or Bush I - to name but a few recent candidates/ Presidents - to be either incompetent or ideologically extreme?

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  • 168. At 1:14pm on 30 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 143 Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    "When people say we need another party, I suspect that what they really mean is that they want another party with which they are comfortable, and which has a reasonable chance of winning elections. The second part is the hard part. You can't force people to support your party; if your political views are in the minority, too bad."

    As I said before, 'first past the post' systems tend to lead to 2 big parties, as a vote for a third party tends to be a wasted vote. For example I saw a poll a few years ago when the '3rd party' in the UK, the 'Liberal Democrats', were at c 25% in the polls - vg for them. The poll showed that they'd be at c 35% - ie with a vg chance of being in govt - IF PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY COULD WIN. [Sorry for the shouting - don't know how to italicise.)

    The point is - they were in a Catch 22. People wouldn't vote for them in sufficient numbers because they couldn't win - and they couldn't win because enough people wouldn't vote for them....

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  • 169. At 1:16pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    St Dom (138),

    • "In the interim, the only option is to vote for the individual rather than party which, in some ways, is nothing more than a vehicle to provide campaign funds, organization and a common voice."
    And to make sure that "common voice" is the best possible marketing tool, with little regard for moral. ethical, or philosophical principles.

    The goal of a Party is to get into, or remain in, power. All other matters must be considered secondary....

    Consult Machiavelli

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  • 170. At 1:16pm on 30 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 150 rodidog wrote:

    "That depends on your definition of moderation and fairness. Perhaps only someone on the far left would think the majority of democrats and their policies are moderate, and those of Republicans are automatically far right."

    Or alternatively - ""That depends on your definition of moderation and fairness. Perhaps only someone on the far right would think the majority of Republicans and their policies are moderate, and those of Democrats are automatically far left."


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  • 171. At 1:21pm on 30 Apr 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 161 RomeStu wrote:

    "It may be suicide in the USA, but Winston Churchill "crossed the floor" twice and it seemed to work out for him."

    Ah yes, Churchill. GWB's hero ;-)

    As you say, he left the Conservatives for the Liberals - and then rejoined the Conservatives. Perhaps this was a matter of principle - or perhaps it was connected to the fact that the Liberal vote had plummeted.

    I believe there is a quote attributed to him on this issue. Something like 'Anyone can rat. It takes a certain talent to re-rat.'

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  • 172. At 1:24pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    St Dom (147),

    • "I can't speak for anyone else, but I would love to see three viable parties representing the right, left, and center. In addition to covering the entire political spectrum..."
    Spectra are one-dimensional phenomena, and only a suitable metaphor for those unable to easily comprehend something as complex as a two-dimensional cartoon

    ;-)

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  • 173. At 1:29pm on 30 Apr 2009, faeyth wrote:

    We need a third party,where moderates who are the majority of this nation can be properly Represented.Until that happens,you will see moderates change parties whenever the extreme left or right take over a party.The GOP in Michigan is in the same situation as Pennsylvania.Unions and Moderates rule.People in Great Lakes whether Dems or GOP are moderates in this region.That's why when Michigan changed it's election day in party elections for President it was a big deal both parties keep out moderates by have their most extreme or loyal states go first in Primaries.You have moderates fight for control with extremes.You will see this struggle right now in Congress,so far Dems have keep it together.When the next Presidential election comes ,Primary disputes will show up again.No matter what party they need Great Lakes Region to Win(moderates).GOP forgot that when they went over board under Bush administration.And lost the Independent vote.The rust belt grows more agitated right now,the people in this region are angry at losing jobs to other regions and nations.The lack of love for this region is showing and voters are getting upset.The car industry and manufacturing.Not to mention the highest concentration of middle-class.It's just the beginning of the Rust Belt to form a voting block and group for Senate and house for negotiations and Health care reform.

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  • 174. At 2:15pm on 30 Apr 2009, yet_another_dave wrote:

    Americans love to debate as if there were huge differences between Republicans and Democrats. I think most Americans are centrists; a fact that tends to be hidden by the winner-take-all political system, since we have to support one of two large parties in order to have any voice at all. If we had proportional representation, I think you'd see a significant number of people from both the main parties move to a centrist party, which would become the majority party. For a well-known moderate to change, formally, from "liberal" Republican to "conservative" Democrat has no deep philosophical significance. He probably just felt he had a better chance of re-election as a member of the other party.

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  • 175. At 3:01pm on 30 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    lol democracies with one party huge majority.

    The best time In recent British history was when John major was PM but there was no majority.

    Everything took more consensus .

    And Ireland was nudged into the peace that Tony claimed credit for

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  • 176. At 3:14pm on 30 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    174 they WISH they were centrist.But then as we all have discussed before american centre is way to the right of any european country
    It has taken an economic collapse to show them (and they are still to be fully convinced) that health care should be universal.

    If america was as centrist as you wish that would have happened a while back.

    It may be heading that way. but no where near it yet.

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  • 177. At 3:26pm on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    163, RomeStu -

    "Or you could move to centralised party funding on congressional campaigns, with limits on spending in each area."

    Large amounts of money in congressional campaigns are not always effective. In the 2006 mid-terms in Vermont, a wealthy Republican guy (whose name I can't even remember now) spent more per vote than has ever been spent in any state-wide election anywhere, ever, running for the Senate seat vacated by Jim Jeffords, but lost by a large majority to Bernie Sanders (who, as I recall, got over 80%), who spent a lot of time tramping around the state and hanging out in diners, as he did every two years while in the House.

    And of course back in the 90s there was farmer Fred Tuttle, who with practically no money and no serious platform won the Republican primary against a well-funded opponent, and then promptly endorsed his Democratic opponent, Patrick Leahy. It had pretty much come down to the fact that the well-funded guy had no idea how many teats a cow has.

    Maybe these things can happen only in Vermont.

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  • 178. At 4:00pm on 30 Apr 2009, Kay wrote:

    #137 Rodidog:
    With absolute power, democrats will increasingly move to the left. Where does that leave moderates? Perhaps a third (moderate) party can come out of the wood work and become a viable option. I doubt it though, most likely moderates will continue to switch back and forth as they become dissatisfied with their party de jour.

    Why are you assuming that the Dems will move to the far left? Because the Republicans moved to the far right while they had total control of the White House and Congress? That's an assumption that may not be justified and you should be wary of such logical fallacies.

    #145 Towndrunk06
    Spectre is a complete and utter weasel. Anyone, Republican or Democrat who switches their affiliations (especially when the two thirds veto over-ride is on the line) cannot be trusted and should be voted out of office. He is doing this completely to save his own skin and stay in the senate, and get a committee appointment.
    If it were truly a matter of "principle" he could have switched to independent.

    You are so wrong. PA has a closed primary--which means that if you are not a registered Democrat or registered Republican YOU CAN'T VOTE IN THE PRIMARY. That's why there are so few registered Independents in PA and why so many former Republicans (like myself) are now Democrats and not members of another party. Specter couldn't even participate in the primary, for that matter. In the primary, you can only vote for the candidates in your own party. So Independent is not an option for him.

    Why is he a traitor for changing parties? Why should he stay if the party's values are no longer his own? He hasn't changed his political philosophy. The GOP has. He didn't leave the GOP--the GOP left him. It moved too far to the right and has gotten away from its principles of smaller government. Its sole platform now is abortion and its ruled by a bunch of religious nutters, idealogues, and uneducated rednecks who would plunge us into a theocracy if they had their way.

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  • 179. At 4:05pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Some have more teats than udders do....

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  • 180. At 4:07pm on 30 Apr 2009, Kay wrote:

    #163 Sad Sam
    Generally to see the trend in a party's platform you look to see who is defecting to the other side. When folks like Specter find themselves uder seige in their own party but loved by their electorate, it is an indication their party is moving away from the center. Arlen will win re-election by 10 points. Just a prediction.

    Spot on, Sam. There's a reason Specter's been re-elected 5 times. It not just Republicans who voted for him. Even a lot of Dems love him and they are thrilled to have him aboard.

    When this first happened I couldn't help but wonder what John Heinz would think if he were still alive.

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  • 181. At 4:25pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    PAKatie (#178) "So Independent is not an option for him."

    It is, although everything else you wrote about the primaries is true. As an independent, he would disregard the primaries and wouls have to qualify for the general election ballot by some other means, presumably by petition. Most likely, he chose this route because he believes winning the Democratic primary will be easier than winning a three-way general election race.

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  • 182. At 4:51pm on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    181, Gary -

    Or maybe he just suddenly realized that there is not much difference between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat except for the vitriol thrown by Republicans at those Republicans who step out of line, and having been a party man all his life perhaps he'd feel naked without a mantle of some sort. Similar to those losing their faith trying different religions - going it alone is scary to some.

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  • 183. At 5:02pm on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    Perhaps I'm wrong, and I'm sure someone will correct me if so, but I don't think there's been any incident where Democrats in Congress turned viciously against one of their own for voting against the party stance.

    I am reminded once again of John Warner, Republican of Virginia, who refused to endorse the Republican candidate Oliver North in his run for the Senate against Charles Robb. Warner, along with a lot of other people, thought that North was rather scummy. The Party vilified Warner but he won reelection due to having endeared a large number of moderate Republicans, Democrats, and independents with his principled action. I believe Virginia has, or had at that time, a cross-over primary.

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  • 184. At 5:03pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Hesiodos (#172) "Spectra are one-dimensional phenomena ... "

    Good point. Politics is indeed multi-dimensional. But the point I've been trying to make, which few seem to grasp, is that the number and strength of parties is not a system in itself, but merely a consequence of the structure of government and system of electing it, and the (multi-dimensional) political factors present in the electorate.

    We (in the US) have complete freedom to organize for political purposes any way we please, but some people do not like the result (two parties tend to dominate). So what to do about it? Nobody here has so far put forward any practical, fully thought out plan for improving things. Here are some ideas which they might consider as part of their plan:

    1. The political group most in need of a third party is moderate Republicans, but they seem to prefer working within the Republican Party (see the link in my earlier post), or, like Specter, switching to the Democratic Party. So use coercion. Outlaw moderate Republicans, forcing them to create a centrist party. Similarly, force Democrats who are not sufficiently socialist out of the Democratic Party and into the new centrist party. This will of course require a government agency with the power to snoop into the political lives of individuals and restrict their right of free association.

    2. Abolish the presidency, as presidential elections are the principal motivating factor leading to the dominance of two parties. The House of Representatives would choose the executive. This would give third parties power in coalitions to choose the executive, as with parliamentary systems. It might be a good idea to have a head of state separate from the head of government. Take your pick: the Queen of UK and elsewhere; Oprah Winfrey, who is almost as rich as the Queen, and more popular; a relative of George Washington.

    3. Alternatively, adopt the French model. A parliament with a Prime Minister allows for coalitions. The President is elected by the people but there is a runoff election among the top two, which is more accomodating to third parties. The downside is that there would be less legitimacy in making the French the butt of jokes, which some Americans take pleasure in.

    All of these require constitutional amendments, however. Because of the extent of the changes required, a constitutional convention is more appropriate. (There's a scary thought. Everything is on the table.)

    If it sounds like I'm merely ridiculing those who whine about the so-called "two party system" with no understanding of political science or practical suggestions for improving it, it's because I am.

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  • 185. At 5:08pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    RomeStu (#161) "It may be suicide in the USA ... "

    It's not necessarily suicide. Sen. Wayne Morse successfully switched to the Democratic Party. Former President Reagan was a Democrat in his youth, and he became the icon of Republican resurgence.

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  • 186. At 5:19pm on 30 Apr 2009, seanspa wrote:

    #183, bere, without wishing to say that you are wrong, I suspect that marbles' favorite, lieberman, may have endured some nastiness while still a democrat. As I recall, he went on to run - and win - as an independant.

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  • 187. At 5:21pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    john-in-Dublin (#168), "first-past-the-post" is not a term used in the US, and it doesn't really adapt well here. The election of US President is not FPTP; without a majority in the electoral college, the election would be decided in the Congress. Other elections may or may not be FPTP. There are many political offices in the US which require a runoff election if no majority is achieved.

    It is single-member districts, not the FPPT rule, which tends to lead to a relatively small number of parties (a good thing in my view). The US, UK, and Canada all have single-member districts in their legislative bodies. Canada has four significant parties and the UK has a few also. The US has two because of our manner of election of the head of government separate from the Congress.

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  • 188. At 5:32pm on 30 Apr 2009, north_of_49 wrote:

    when a political party promotes the likes of Limbaugh,Beck, Hammity and Dobbs as their heralds to the public, they must be in trouble. If there wasn't such serious issues on the table their babble could be considered entertainment like Maury or Jerry Springer. At a time when bipartisanship is needed the GOP is still playing politics and trying to one up the elected government.

    A Pity

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  • 189. At 5:43pm on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    186, seanspa -

    You're right about the party running a strong Democrat against him in the primary, but I don't think the reaction to him was hateful and vitriolic. I didn't see viciousness. There's a difference between not supporting for re-election a Congressperson who has strayed from the party and viciously attacking that person. That's what I'm talking about. Even after Lieberman's behavior in the recent election, the reaction from former Democratic colleagues was more along the line of disappointment than hate. This is a major difference these days between Republicans and Democrats, aside from the issues.

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  • 190. At 5:44pm on 30 Apr 2009, Kay wrote:

    #181 Gary:
    It is, although everything else you wrote about the primaries is true. As an independent, he would disregard the primaries and wouls have to qualify for the general election ballot by some other means, presumably by petition. Most likely, he chose this route because he believes winning the Democratic primary will be easier than winning a three-way general election race.
    I see where you're coming from, Gary, and you have a point. He could very well lose--but on the other hand, so many Dems love the guy that he could easily win if enough cross over to vote for him. There may be some moderate Republicans left who might split their ticket to vote for him as well.
    I think he did the right thing going with the Dems. It's hard to be an Independent in PA and since most independents vote Democratic anyway, he might as well become one. :))

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  • 191. At 5:47pm on 30 Apr 2009, yet_another_dave wrote:

    176. "...as we all have discussed before american centre is way to the right of any european country"

    Yes. Everything is relative. IMO there's little difference between Democrats and Republicans, and even this limited spectrum occupies a small portion of the global political spectrum, right of center (or centre, if you prefer).

    "If america was as centrist as you wish that would have happened a while back."

    Fist, it's not my "wish," but my observation; and people are "centrist" in the context of American politics, as you pointed out.

    Second, I think the barrier to the emergence of a viable third (or nth) party is that we don't have proportional representation.

    "...health care should be universal."

    Alas, most of "them" remain unconvinced. Even Mr Obama's vision stops at universal access to healthcare insurance, and does not reach all the way to the civilized norm of universal access to healthcare services.

    As things stand now, the most pragmatic healthcare plan for middle-class Americans is to pay out of pocket for routine care and set aside enough money to travel to South America, Thailand, or India when more significant services are needed; or to be on vacation in Europe "coincidentally" when the need arises. A sad commentary on the "richest" country.

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  • 192. At 5:54pm on 30 Apr 2009, yet_another_dave wrote:

    188. "when a political party promotes the likes of Limbaugh,Beck, Hammity and Dobbs as their heralds to the public, they must be in trouble."

    It sounds as if you think these pundits are on the Republican payroll. They're independent. They're not exactly objective, but they're independent.

    Beck actually characterizes himself as a political independent, although he tends to align with the Republican view fairly often. He aligns with the Libertarian view even more often.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention Ann Coulter, who has written in her books that anyone who wasn't a Republican was, literally, a traitor. That strikes me as more extreme than the four you cited.

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  • 193. At 5:59pm on 30 Apr 2009, bere54 wrote:

    John Warner was a good man and a gentleman, though he had his lapses (Elizabeth Taylor being a prominent one) and I became very disappointed in him when he was supporting everything Bush did. The way he was treated by the Republican Party over the Oliver North (who was not a good man or a gentleman despite being an officer) business was really disgraceful. It emphasized how the Party prizes loyalty over integrity.

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  • 194. At 6:07pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Gary,

    • "Oprah Winfrey, who is almost as rich as the Queen, and more popular; a relative of George Washington."
    And thus, kin to me! A rich cousin - I love it!

    Your Option 1. (coercion) doesn't need Government agencies and restrictions, the parties themselves (more-so the Repugnants) are likely to provide similar results in due course...

    I re-iterate:
    • "When matters which concern or interest us are under discussion, it is natural to form alliances with those who share aspects of our viewpoint or objectives, but when these are formalised into rigid policy frameworks, much of great value is lost:
      1. The primary goal becomes the establishment or maintenance of a dominant position for the party.
      2. Party discipline becomes more important than finding new solutions to new situations.
      3. Policy, rather than being founded in conviction & principles, is manipulated to appeal to voters, while
      4. The party is 'sold' as being more unified, more considerate, more efficient, than other parties.
      5. The fewer parties involved, the more pronounced the shallow nature of the resulting discussion becomes."


    The more, the merrier!

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  • 195. At 6:19pm on 30 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    191 agreed
    192

    lol Ann coulter is not worthy of mention really (watch Gherkin froth)

    As for the others. they claim to be independent

    CLAIM. and THEY are more important words in that sentence than independent.

    We have several posters (in one body) that tell us they are independent moderates ,while spouting off like someone at a the late 30's Germany.

    As for the payroll. who are you kidding.

    Murdock.

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  • 196. At 6:26pm on 30 Apr 2009, giantskeptic wrote:

    It will make no difference since Spector was really a Democrat in Republican clothing

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  • 197. At 6:44pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Hesiodos (#194) "And thus, kin to me! A rich cousin ... "

    I don't understand this. There is a semicolon between Oprah Winfrey and George Washington. Separate choices.

    Are you related to G. Washington? He had no direct descendants. This is interesting:

    http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/articles/news/roberts.html

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  • 198. At 7:14pm on 30 Apr 2009, Hesiodos wrote:

    Gary,

    • "Are you related to G. Washington? He had no direct descendants."
    "to speak of..." He is some sort of Great(*n) Uncle, me being descended from his elder half-brother Lawrence...I might have a better claim than Emory, being in the Patrilineal line, but I have an older female cousin...

    This is interesting too
    ;-)

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  • 199. At 9:51pm on 30 Apr 2009, foxtrottango1 wrote:

    Post # 191, "A sad commentary on the "richest country." - Dave
    Aren't you mistaking the term "rich" for greed?

    The term would come closer to being "the greediest country" not the richest since just everything has and is being taken by the point of the gun or nuclear intimidation. And because of this greed most Americans are now becoming aware that world resources are not going to support their "way of living."

    The richest country is one who provide health care to all it's citizens, equal justice and do not torture helpless people or break international laws.

    Post 192. Ann Coulter is an incoherent rambling frustrated individual who need to marry someone who can stand her. The amusing part is, all the women Fox News employ are blonds and they all look alike, speak alike, act alike, just like clones. It's a case of not only the blond leading the blond, but more like the blind leading the blind! The difference is, with this new president, no one seem to be listening to the blonds except the conservative right including the reborn again and again Southern Baptist "Christian" and history school teacher, Newt Gingrich.

    Yep, he is the same one who was disposed from the GOP and who delivered divorce papers to his wife while she was recovering in the hospital of cancer.

    Some "compassionate conservatives" this republicans are.



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  • 200. At 10:11pm on 30 Apr 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    163, Rome.
    "Or you could move to centralised party funding on congressional campaigns, with limits on spending in each area."

    The only problem is that a corrupt Congress would never pass it.

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  • 201. At 10:56pm on 30 Apr 2009, robertenora wrote:

    God hasn't gone anywhere. Moderate Republicans and independents in Pennsylvania have decided faith-based politics doesn't create jobs, guarantee national security, pay medical bills, plow roads and highways, etc. In Short, they are separating religion from politics. Hasn't that worked in Pennsylvania before?

    By the way, Mr. Webb, you looked very distinguished and thoughtful at the presser last night.

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  • 202. At 11:08pm on 30 Apr 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #201

    Wonderful post

    PA Sam

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  • 203. At 11:37pm on 30 Apr 2009, happylaze wrote:

    201 202 that seems to be the way.

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  • 204. At 03:34am on 01 May 2009, Pass Torian wrote:

    What Specter's defection mean? Politically not much if anything at all. Personally - it is another matter.

    The old age causes quite often defective thinking and that exactly what happened to Specter. Instead of exposing himnself as a shallow opportunist - Lieberman number two - he should stick and try to convince his party colleagues and followers that "his way" is the right way for Republicans.

    Now however, the old man should have support of neither Democrats nor Republicans. Life long Republican pretending to be a Democrat who openly states he will not follow Democratic principles but will use his independent (Republican?) judgement. Do Democrats need in their ranks the fellow named Specter? As for Republicans, they justly should resent the guy who after so many years shows them his "middle finger". Whether Pennsylvania electorate is sober when voting is another thing.

    Maybe Specter should be reminded that cemetaries are full of indispensable people and that his glory days may be over? At 79, with due respects to his past accomplishments, I think that Mr. Arlen Specter should fold the gloves and graciously retire before he continues as fool.

    The country need a person with energy, clear mind, and without newly developed personal opportunistic traits. And that person does not need to be a "painted on the surface" Democrat. That person could as well be a Republican.

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  • 205. At 8:34pm on 01 May 2009, foxtrottango1 wrote:

    Post # 160 - David Cunard.

    I don't know much about British political behavior but in seem that in the USA the conservative right, the Christians fundamentalists, the GOP and the Republicans think (or feel) that hypocrisy, lies, deceptions, torture, corruptions are virtues instead of vices!

    All one has to do is to just listen to them.

    I personally feel I have more in common with the British people regardless of party ticket than these right wing conservative political hypocrites in the USA!

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  • 206. At 01:01am on 03 May 2009, yankeelady wrote:

    I don't particularly care for Arlen Specter. I'm a Progressive American Democrat. However, I was disgusted that Arlen Specter was subjected to uncivilized behavior resembling backyard wrestling.

    The following article appeared on one of the Cincinnati Enquirer's websites:

    "The Specter of Arlen sets off a Cincinnati political tiff"
    Posted by Howard Wilkinson at 4/29/2009 5:20 PM EDT

    The defection of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party has Republicans nationwide fuming and declaring "good riddance;" few more so than Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Alex Triantafilou, who raged over the Specter defection on his blog Wednesday.

    It was not so much the words Triantafilou used than the pictures that accompanied them which set off Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke.

    What Triantafilou did that set Burke off was pairing an old picture of Specter when he was bald from his chemotherapy with a picture of the hairless Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Specter's hair, by the way, has grown back.

    Burke fired off a release headlined: "Republican Party Ridicules Cancer Patient."

    "It is just that kind of insensitivity to the plight of real people that is causing the Republican Party to lose so many of its previous followers," Burke wrote, noting the photo was taken during Specter's chemotherapy.

    Late Wednesday afternoon, Triantafilou said he meant no harm and pooh-poohed Burke's complaint.

    "Tim needs to lighten up,'' Triantafilou said. "It was funny. Dr. Evil is a character in my favorite movie. I meant no disrespect to Sen. Specter."

    Triantafilou said the photo of Specter he used was the first one that popped up when he did a Google photo search.
    UPDATE: Wednesday night, Triantafilou took down the photos on his blog and replaced them with the word CENSORED.

    YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The "CENSORED" thing came off of Triantafilou's blog last night, replaced by a photo of a grumpy child. Then, Thursday, the whole post on Specter, photos and text, disappeared from the blog. The whole thing, Triantafilou said, "was becoming a distraction."
    *************************************************************************
    NOTE: Tim Burke, Democratic Chairman of the Hamilton County, Ohio Democratic Party is a member of the Hamilton County, Ohio Board of Elections.
    **************************************************************************
    I took action and contacted Jennifer Brunner, our Ohio Secretary of State about the incident involving the above referenced Republican Chairman of the Hamilton County, Ohio Board of Elections who also serves as Republican Chairman of the Hamilton County, Ohio Republican Party.

    -MY EMAIL TO OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE JENNIFER BRUNNER-

    As soon as possible, please consider initiating the process of replacing the Chairman of the Hamilton County Ohio BOE, Alex Triantafilou due to his handling of the ridicule of Arlen Specter that he publicly engaged in.

    I'm worried about the Civil Rights Obligations of Recovery Act Grantors and Applicants within the context of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    I won't have much confidence in future elections that address efforts to improve the delivery of medical care as well as issues related to The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 if Alex Triantafilou is permitted to continue serving as the Chairman of the Hamilton County Ohio Board of Elections.


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  • 207. At 02:09am on 07 May 2009, yankeelady wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 208. At 11:29pm on 12 May 2009, publiusdetroit wrote:

    This looks like a good place for defectors!

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  • 209. At 11:54pm on 12 May 2009, publiusdetroit wrote:

    There's a press conference being held in a real nice kitchen. Bere is already there.

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  • 210. At 00:18am on 13 May 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:

    Shaman

    'Defector' is a word that disturbs me a little but I have lived long and some of my family did not prosper.

    I think I had the last post on the prior thread this time and I was not even seeking it! I did lose track.

    Shaman, Query:

    It seems that we will get a new blog director soon. I wonder if this will help debates be more civilized. Sometimes people appear for only a little while. I would really like to read more of what they say or have dialogue with them. I think sometimes they get intimidated and go away. This is sad.

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  • 211. At 00:49am on 13 May 2009, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Many Changing Woman

    Meet us over in the press room. More room to dance:-)

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  • 212. At 11:15am on 13 May 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    aquarizonagal # 210 , [ from 500]
    "more civilized" and 'dissappearing people' are factors that are impossible to control.
    Re the first, everything is a question of passion and where you channel it.
    Be "A Lover" with a husband, wife, partner and/or family [even pet], to obtain a balanced outlook on life in general, or become "A fighter", a loner and perceive every unwanted happening as a personal confrontation that requires physical or mental fisticuffs to gain the upper hand. The latter are a sad sort that require sympathy, but then with variety being the spice of life, their views colour the blog giving it, its' balance, and I doubt that the new blog director would have it any other way.
    Marcus versus Europe/ the UK?
    Re dissappearing people who fly in and out:- Many of us are lucky enough to have bouts of time on are hands to participate or not, where others still have the 9 to 5 grind and its' associated responsibilities. Coming and staying or going is one of many decisions in this life. You yourself, will shortly take a sabatical in respect of a future foreign visit. Have a great time when you go. Out of sight / site, does not necessarily mean out of mind for many of us.
    The Good? or The Bad?
    Here in the woodshed as apposed to the kitchen, I accept them both equally. Being out of ones head can soften the blows. Liking however, is something else.

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  • 213. At 02:21am on 15 May 2009, happylaze wrote:

    lol water a well populated island that one.

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