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Sat May 29, 2021, 01:06 PM

Constitutional Government

"The informing function of Congress should be preferred to even its legislative function."
-- Woodrow Wilson; Constitutional Government in the United States; New York: Columbia University press; 1908; page 303.


My son shook his head as we watched a news report about the republican Senators' attempt to knee-cap an investigation into January 6th. "Dirty bastards," he said. "Fear not," I replied, "for we still have what I think is a better option." I prefer a Senate Select Committee to a commission for a variety of reasons. Hence, I was pleased less than an hour later, when Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) told a reporter that there would likely be a Select Committee investigation.

Over the many decades of my life, I have witnessed our country move further away from Constitutional Government. This concerns me, as I've seen even intelligent and generally informed people unaware of the Congress's role in educating the public. Indeed, even on this forum, circa 2009, a person I respect but am not particularly friends with, told me that I was full of shit, without a clue of what I was talking about. While this may be an accurate diagnosis of my usual nonsense, in this case I am correct.

Woodrow Wilson was the first political scientist to become president. Back in 2009, I assumed that the vast majority of people had a copy of "Constitutional Government" in the political science section of their personal library, if not the more obvious presidential section. I was wrong about that, and so I shall link a copy of it here:
https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/constitutional-government-in-the-united-states/

Why, someone might be asking at this very moment, is this ancient manuscript of importance? To begin with, it is quoted in two important US Supreme Court decisions (including the above quote): United States v. Rumely, 345 US 41, 43 (1953), and Watkins v. United States, 354 US 178, 200 (1957). And it would serve as the driving force when an old country lawyer, Senator Sam Ervin, headed the Senate Select Committee's investigation of Watergate.

One advantage os congressional investigations is that they are often televised. Those of my generation remember listening to witnesses such as John Dean and Alexander Butterfield testify about Watergate. It is important to remember that Nixon still had high approval from republicans in DC and nation-wide. Some of the Iran-Contra hearings were also televised, although the combination of its complicated stratification, scandal fatigue, and Ollie North's uniform blurred Reagan and VP Bush's criminal involvement.

Such hearings are never a perfect answer. Some House republicans were nearly as toxic as their counterparts today when it came to committee debate on articles of impeachment. I agree that the republican party is worse today, posing a much greater threat to our Constitutional Government, than in the past. Thus, it is essential to more fully appreciate that as we venture further from the Constitution and the rule of law, it is the result of steps taken since the Nixon era.

There have been commissions that have investigated import issues in my life-time. I'd like to discuss two of them, without any focus what so ever on if I or anyone else agrees fully, partially, or not at all with their conclusions. These include the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission. Both interviewed numerous witnesses, yet neither was televised. Their results were issued in reports that were significantly longer, more detailed, and much less likely to be read by average people. As a result, it is accurate to say that neither had the influence of the Ervin Committee. If this was intentional or not is a very different matter.

That fox Nixon's pathology would not be expressed publicly until the powerfully tense interviews with David Frost. VP Bush the Elder was allowed to skate by saying he was unaware of what was going on with Iran-Contra. George W. Bush and VP Cheney would testify together in secret. "So ?," you may reasonably ask. So there is a pattern here, one that is significant as we consider why republicans are so opposed to a January 6 Commission. Identifying it will surely bring back memories, for DU Elders, of the frequent "Can you find the face in this tree?" puzzle in our Weekly Readers. (Younger folks may be more familiar with finding dead, rotting trees in republican faces.)

Part of this is simply a result of cowardice and fear. A few DC republicans have said, off the record, that they fear for their family's and their safety, due to the rabid threats of the Trump cult. They are not only hoping that AOC, Nancy, and VP Harris are the cult's primary targets -- they are okay with sacrificing Mike Pence. Think about that.

Still more are afraid that not only Trump & fiends will be exposed for promoting the violence, but that their own role will be exposed on live television, for all to see. Mitch and Kevin are fully aware of what this would do to their party's chances in upcoming elections. They need to buckle their seat belts, as the old saying goes, because there is a bumpy road ahead. Do not be surprised if, when the idea of a Senate Select Committee investigation's implications become clear to them, they suddenly demand a commission.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 47 replies Author Time Post
Reply Constitutional Government (Original post)
H2O Man May 29 OP
Saoirse9 May 29 #1
brush May 29 #3
Martin Eden May 29 #4
H2O Man May 29 #5
Saoirse9 May 29 #9
H2O Man May 29 #12
Martin Eden May 29 #16
H2O Man May 29 #42
brush May 29 #2
H2O Man May 29 #6
brush May 29 #10
H2O Man May 29 #14
hedda_foil May 29 #7
H2O Man May 29 #8
brush May 29 #11
H2O Man May 29 #15
brush May 29 #18
H2O Man May 29 #19
Saoirse9 May 29 #20
brush May 29 #21
Saoirse9 May 29 #22
brush May 29 #24
Saoirse9 May 29 #28
brush May 29 #29
Saoirse9 May 29 #30
brush May 29 #31
Saoirse9 May 29 #40
brush May 29 #41
Saoirse9 May 29 #43
Saoirse9 May 30 #47
H2O Man May 29 #23
brush May 29 #25
H2O Man May 29 #33
brush May 29 #37
H2O Man May 29 #39
hedda_foil May 29 #45
jalan48 May 29 #13
H2O Man May 29 #17
malaise May 29 #26
H2O Man May 29 #34
kentuck May 29 #27
H2O Man May 29 #35
kentuck May 29 #38
H2O Man May 29 #46
malaise May 29 #44
ms liberty May 29 #32
H2O Man May 29 #36

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 01:40 PM

1. Here is what I don't understand

Saying yes to the investigation would have given them some input on the investigation.

Saying no means Democratic law makers will get to the truth faster and in more detail. Am I wrong about that?

Why would they be willing to give up any input?

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #1)

Sat May 29, 2021, 01:45 PM

3. McTurtle is not just evil, he thinks he's always the smarted guy in the room.

Most likely you are right. Now there can be both House and Senate select committees on the insurrection.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is in effect with McTurtle.

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #1)

Sat May 29, 2021, 01:58 PM

4. "Why would they be willing to give up any input?"

Because the consequences of openly defying the exiled King in Mara Lago and his violent cult are much worse for them personally and politically than not having that input.

Also, a bipartisan commission bestows a stamp of legitimacy on the findings, not so easily dismissed as a "partisan witch hunt" run by Democrats.

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Response to Martin Eden (Reply #4)

Sat May 29, 2021, 02:11 PM

5. Right.

I agree. I would add that Mitch and Kevin are thinking of the immediate, in terms of reducing potential harm to the party, rather than thinking long-term.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #5)

Sat May 29, 2021, 02:51 PM

9. But if they cry that it's partisan

Dems will say we gave you every chance to have input.

Another question. Can a select committee make criminal referrals?

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #9)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:27 PM

12. Yes.

The republicans will continue to copy Trump's style of lying, no matter what the Democrats do. Thus, we need to focus on doing the right thing -- the rule of law -- rather than focus on what the republicans might do.

A House and/or Senate committee can make referrals to the DOJ. But there are things that could be exposed by a select committee that aren't clearly criminal, in the sense of prosecutors being 95% sure of a conviction, that need to be publicly exposed. These include but are not limited to individual politician's relationship with the Proud Boys, etc.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #5)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:32 PM

16. If Mitch and Kevin were thinking long term they would want to break free of Trump and QAnon

Kevin is a coward, and Mitch.... he's a skilled politico but not a visionary with principles or long term strategic thinker.

It's always about the next election, just as corporate America is about quarterly profits producing immediate shareholder value.

That kind of approach can relegate the American experiment to the ash heap of history. Autocratic regimes like China and Putin's Russia may or may not be sustainable, but they eat our lunch when it comes to implementing long term strategy.

Today's Republican Party is striving towards autocracy, but with them at the helm I believe it would hasten our downfall. Sycophants and panderers are lack the strength, competence, and vision to successfully shepherd a great nation state into the future.

We are in an existential battle not only for the survival of American democracy, but for the survival of free and fair elections around the globe. Western Europe also has to contend with the rise of rightwing "populist" demagogues, with Putin's Russia on their eastern flank.

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Response to Martin Eden (Reply #16)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:55 PM

42. Well said.

Very well said, indeed.

If it were not so pathetic, it would be a giggle when cult members say that the thugs who carried out the criminal attack on democracy were merely exercising their constitutional rights. These are people who do not have a clue as to the Constitution, nor a grasp of constitutional law. In a very real sense, they are like those arrested for DWI, who threaten to sue the police for infringing on their rights.

When there is a wide-spread ignorance of this type, it becomes all too easy for those "populist" demagogues you noted to rise to power. Indeed, the last century provided more than enough examples of a "populist" sociopath, surrounded by a few ASPD aides, to rise to power.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 01:42 PM

2. Hard to get around thinking Wilson's writings wouldn't be...

influenced by his virulent racism.

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Response to brush (Reply #2)

Sat May 29, 2021, 02:16 PM

6. True.

However, that could include almost every president, and most members of Congress, throughout the nation's history. Recognizing the potential value of Wilson's most important work on politics because he was racist would thus lead to ignoring the important contributions of the the majority of past politicians. I think that we have the ability to recognize the value of the important things that6 flawed people have produced.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:09 PM

10. Wilson was one of the worst though. And coming from academia...

and it being the 20th century, albeit early in the century, you'd expect more enlightenment.

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Response to brush (Reply #10)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:30 PM

14. Then start on OP/thread

that focuses exclusively on Wilson's bad character. This OP has zero -- absolutely nothing -- to do with that.

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Response to brush (Reply #2)

Sat May 29, 2021, 02:27 PM

7. True, but Jefferson's writings would fall into the same category.

And then there was Washington, who didn't write that much but was certainly as influential. These guys may only have been thinking of white men in their crowd, but what they wrote nevertheless applied to everyone.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #7)

Sat May 29, 2021, 02:42 PM

8. Thank you!

The list of imperfect politicians is vast. The racism of some presidents is worthy of discussion in some contexts -- for example, if the OP was about Harry Truman, and someone noted that he was in the KKK in early adulthood, that could be important in a conversation about bombing Japan, or Truman's initiating the US support for France trying to re-claim Vietnam after the war. For even as president, Truman said that "yellow people" were not ready for democracy.

Or, if we were discussing Senator Robert Byrd's going on the floor to demand that Martin Luther King, Jr., be incarcerated in advance of his proposed Poor People's Campaign, his former KKK membership would be an appropriate thing to mention. But in a discussion of Byrd's 2004 book, "Losing America," which focused upon our venturing away from the Constitution, it would strike me as curious if someone could not appreciate the message because of a speech he gave 36 years earlier.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #7)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:18 PM

11. Both of them were white men and slaveholders who only considered...

the rights of white men, even when some of their contemporaries were more enlightened (Jefferson particularly was brilliant and complicated but is the poster child for hypocrisy in relations with Sally Hemings, his child and the father of her children. What the effin' fuck? And despite his great writings on the liberty and all, he slaves weren't released until after his death) . And they lived in the 18th century. when enslavement was prevalent.

Wilson wrote and was president in the 20th century with no slavery and was from academia. More enlightenment would've been nice.

But wait, hold it an effin' minute. Let's stop making excuses for these white, male racist slaveholders. Many of their contemporaries knew better.

And Blacks and other POCs are still suffering from their legacy. Don't get me started on reparations owed from hundreds of years of stolen labor.

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Response to brush (Reply #11)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:31 PM

15. And let's stop

attempting to hijack OP/threads that have nothing to do with your issue.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #15)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:36 PM

18. Oh, sorry, white privilege rears it's ugly head. some subjects are off, off limits...

but it's actually all related. See all the innocent Black people still getting gunned down in the streets part of the undeniable legacy of American racism. On a progressive site it should be an issue for all of us.

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Response to brush (Reply #18)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:42 PM

19. Actually, no.

You are incorrect. It may be from a lack of understanding of the OP, or it may be purposeful. But except for your comment on Mitch, nothing that you have said has anything to do with the OP. Rather, it is exclusively about the responsibility of Congress to educate the public -- and that responsibility is documented in the two USSC decisions that quoted from Wilson. The significance of those two USSC decisions is not dependent upon if one or more of the justices held racist views in the 1950s.

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Response to brush (Reply #18)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:10 PM

20. WTF?

He starts an OP on the January 6 insurrection and you want to make it about white privilege?

Hon start your own OP about white privilege and I am sure H2O will be happy to speak to that issue. But thatís not the purpose of the OP.

Canít you start a thread of your own?

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #20)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:12 PM

21. Check out all the photos and videos of the insurrectionists.

If that event wasn't about white privilege, nothing is.

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Response to brush (Reply #21)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:18 PM

22. Then author a fucking thread about it buddy

and quite picking at other people.

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #22)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:46 PM

24. Calm down. No need to be getting alerted on.

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Response to brush (Reply #24)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:59 PM

28. Seriously? That a threat?

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #28)

Sat May 29, 2021, 05:02 PM

29. Review the terms of service. Let's just keep it civil.

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Response to brush (Reply #29)

Sat May 29, 2021, 05:05 PM

30. Yes let's not accuse others of white privilege

Start there.

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #30)

Sat May 29, 2021, 05:16 PM

31. As if Jan. 6 didn't happen.

And the only people I accused were the insurrectionists. I don't think you should have a problem with that.

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Response to brush (Reply #31)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:41 PM

40. I don't think you should be accusing one of the most

Well respected activists on this site of being biased.

I donít think a single person on this site is unaware that most of the morons who participated in the insurrection are racist assholes. But that doesnít mean all white people including me and the OP are the same racist assholes.

You trying to lump us in with all of knuckle draggers who wear swastikas and confederate flags?

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #40)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:51 PM

41. I accused the Jan. 6 insurrectionists of white privilege.

Again, what's your problem with that?

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Response to brush (Reply #41)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:59 PM

43. When did I say I had a problem with that?

Have you been reading what I write at all?

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Response to brush (Reply #41)

Sun May 30, 2021, 12:31 PM

47. Now that we seem to be finished arguing

Maybe we can speak like two people who are on the same side, even if we come to the same conclusions from completely different perspectives.

I love H2O man like a brother and I wonít stand by while anyone insults him.

But I donít know what made you think he might be expressing white privilege so maybe you can help me understand why you thought that.

You can PM me if you like. I am interested in a thoughtful dialogue and I hope we can come to understand the different perspectives we each have.

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Response to brush (Reply #21)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:30 PM

23. Yes, of course it was.

No one with a pulse doubts that. This really isn't complicated, and anyone who is sober in thought should be capable of grasping that my OP was entirely about confronting the very real threat that those racist scumbags pose. The DOJ in the current administration is addressing this by the way that Constitutional Government allows. Yet this does not mandate a heated discussion rehashing Harris's attack on Biden per busing. (I do appreciate that you haven't fixated on that yet.)

Just as the Executive branch has that responsibility, the Legislative branch has a role. If one actually reads my OP and everyone else's comments, it is clear that is the topic of discussion. Likewise, there can, should, and will be discussions regarding the role of the Judicial branch.

That this country has a racist history that has never yet been adequately addressed -- and which continues today -- is something that I will safely speculate that every sincere DU community member knows. I've documented that issue in countless OPs on this forum. I've dealt with racist violence in my family life, and my public life. Hence, my inability to take your "white priv-business" as a serious attempt to discuss the very real issues involved in America today, or the topic of my essay today.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #23)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:51 PM

25. Thanks. You sound like a reasonable guy. I can get going about...

the nation's racist past and it's most virulent examples.

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Response to brush (Reply #25)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:17 PM

33. Wilson was also a

sexist pig. Yet the OP/thread is not a glaring example of male privilege because that hasn't been mentioned until this point.

Racism continues to saturate our society. I'm always up for a discussion about the severe damage it does. One of my closest friends in life was falsely convicted and incarcerated for 20 years due to racism. I assisted with his legal defense. The federal courts eventually overturned a conviction that was based upon a prosecutor arguing that, because my friend was black, he was predisposed to murdering white people.

Earlier today, an old co-worker visited. Among the things we discussed was a case in the 1990s, when a brown-skinned teenager got a life sentence for being at a party where a white girl -- one week shy of her birthday -- was giving guys blow jobs. None of the white guys were charged. I brought information to the Hurricane's lawyer, but the guy ended up serving a year in Attica before we got him released.

As my extended family includes black, brown, red, yellow, and white human beings, I've been aware of the nature of racism since before I reached my teens. I think the concept of following the Constitution provides the best way of addressing the threat .....using the rule of law fom the local- to the federal level. To create a "more perfect union," despite frequent frustrations along the way. We clearly are not there -- not even close. Yet the advances the country has made are the very things that enrage the brain-dead white Trump cult. They are uncomfortable, as I noted in a recent OP, by seeing non-white people on the television news shows. They are afraid of people like AOC. They fear the growing non-white population in the country -- and they do not believe that non-white human beings share the same constitutional rights as they do. We see this with their attacks on voting rights, for example, a most obvious and important legal right for all citizens.

From years of employment at the local mental health clinic, I know that fears -- especially unrealistic fears -- can result in delusions. And are not the Trump cult members displaying a shared delusional system today? A fucking dangerous one, at that. This is why my last essay on DU was on the rule of law (including my paraphrasing Malcolm X on the right to self-defense), and today on Constitutional Government.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #33)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:25 PM

37. What state are you in? You need to run for office.

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Response to brush (Reply #37)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:38 PM

39. The state of Old Age!

That's what I've been telling regional Democrats asking me to run. I would have even a decade ago, but age & injuries have rendered me a hermit. I have, and continue to, work on campaigns at the local to state level. A couple friends have served in the House, and we are currently busy on preparing to beat Claudia Tenney again in 2022. We beat her in a close one in 2018, and if they had counted all the votes in 2020, we'd have won again. But the state court didn't allow the full count to be taken. No complaints -- we'll just do better next year!

I've done strategy and speech writing for a few candidates running for Congress, from NYS to FL. And lots of local/regional candidates over the decades here in NY.

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Response to brush (Reply #18)

Sat May 29, 2021, 07:14 PM

45. I completely agree. It is all related and should be an issue for us all.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:28 PM

13. Perhaps Republicans plan to challenge the process by ignoring subpoenas or refusing

to answer questions if they do appear. They want the focus to be on the process and not the issue.

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Response to jalan48 (Reply #13)

Sat May 29, 2021, 03:32 PM

17. They might, indeed.

And that's okay. We are in the majority now. We can deal with anything they do.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:55 PM

26. Thoughtful as always

Buckle up!

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Response to malaise (Reply #26)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:20 PM

34. Thanks!

As donald, Rudy, and Matt bump their numbskulls on the rocky road, we can anticipate the Trump cult to act out. Jail 'em all! And use a committee setting to expose the snakes in the House that give comfort to -- and accept donations from -- the cult.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 04:57 PM

27. I'm going to enjoy watching the Republicans whine and cry about the unfairness of everything...

...once the Select Committee starts to ask questions.

The sooner it gets started, the better.



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Response to kentuck (Reply #27)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:22 PM

35. Me, too!

That's a huge advantage of televised hearings.

If January 6 was merely tourists taking a stroll, the republicans should be eager to explain the films of the attacks on police, etc.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #35)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:26 PM

38. Some of them may look very foolish in criticizing the Select Committee...

They have a lot of confidence in their ability to spin. I don't know if it will work this time?

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Response to kentuck (Reply #38)

Sat May 29, 2021, 07:17 PM

46. Exactly right.

Shit, they complained when Nancy gave them everything they asked for. They did not anticipate that she would do that.

I am confident that at least four DC republicans were having direct communications with the thugs planning January 6 -- three in the House, and one in the Senate. There may be more. And they were not discouraging the thugs in any sense. Just the opposite.

Surely we will have repulsive republicans with us always. That might even be in the bible? (grin) But there is a distinction between being a jackass and being a threat to the country. The threats need to be exposed and expelled.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #27)

Sat May 29, 2021, 07:09 PM

44. I can hardly wait

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 29, 2021, 05:28 PM

32. I've always been proud that Senator Sam Ervin

Was from my state of NC. His hometown was about 50 miles west of my house.

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Response to ms liberty (Reply #32)

Sat May 29, 2021, 06:24 PM

36. He was such a large character!

Not a perfect man, of course -- just like every man who has ever lived. But he was exactly who was needed at that exact moment! And his sense of humor added so much.

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