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What is a Filibuster?
ThisNation ^ | timely reports/current | Contributing Author, Shad Satterthwaite, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Posted on 01/31/2003 2:54:28 AM PST by .30Carbine

What is a filibuster?

Why are they permitted in the Senate but not the House? Can you do anything to stop one?
I have heard the practice of "talking a bill to death" in the Senate referred to as a filibuster. What exactly is a filibuster? Why do they happen only in the Senate? What is the purpose of allowing them? Can one Senator actually stop the entire Senate through a filibuster or is there something that can be done to bring one to an end?

The word filibuster comes from the Spanish word filibusteros; a term used to describe pirates that plundered in the seventeenth century. In the United States, the word eventually became synonymous with rebels and insurrectionists, a perfect term to describe a technique used by rebellious senators looking for ways to hold up legislation.

A classic anecdote has Thomas Jefferson asking George Washington about the purpose of the Senate. Washington responded with a question, "Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?" "To cool it," Jefferson replied. To which Washington said; "Even so, we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it." The framers of the Constitution intended the Senate to cool legislation by being a more deliberative body than the House. It was smaller, members were older, Senators were elected for longer terms, and elections were staggered and decided by state legislatures [at that time; changed under the 17th Amendment].

The House of Representatives has a Rules Committee that places a limit on debate when a bill goes to the floor. The Senate has no such committee. As a result, a bill is informally scheduled to come up on the Senate floor where debate can be endless. A filibuster occurs when a Senator engaged in debate refuses to yield the floor and thus prevents a roll call vote from taking place. The image of a Senator standing his ground on the Senate floor is epitomized by Jimmy Stewart with his performance in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Filibusters provide a minority of Senators a way to make their voices heard.

Filibusters also give a tremendous amount of power to individual Senators. Senators have used the filibuster, or the threat to filibuster in order to maximize their leverage with the President or other Senators. In 1985, Oklahoma Senator David Boren held up Edwin Meese's confirmation vote as Reagan's Attorney General until Reagan agreed to sign an emergency farm relief bill.

South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest speech in the history of the Senate. During debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he spoke for a total of twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes. His stamina has served him well, at the age of ninety-seven, he is currently the oldest serving member in the United States Senate [now retired at 100].

Filibustering has become much more common in recent years. Roughly two-thirds of all filibusters in the Senate's history have taken place in the last thirty years. Filibusters where frequently used to stop civil rights legislation from passing in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then however, filibusters have been employed to stall bills of all types. This has led some to argue that filibustering has been trivialized.

A filibuster can take place at several stages during the legislative process in the Senate. Before a bill is even introduced, a senator can place an anonymous hold on a bill through the majority or minority leaders. A hold is simply a threat to stage a filibuster if the bill comes up for a vote. A motion to bring up a bill can be filibustered. Amendments to a bill can be filibustered. Appointments to conference committees with House members to consider the bill can be filibustered. Conference committee reports on the bill can be filibustered.

How can a filibuster be stopped?

A filibuster can be stopped when the Senate invokes cloture. This can be an arduous task in and of itself. To invoke cloture, a Senator needs to do the following:

1. Wait two days after a filibuster begins.

2. Obtain sixteen signatures on a motion to invoke cloture.

3. Wait another two days before the Senate can vote on cloture.

4. Make sure that three-fifths of the Senate (sixty Senators) vote to end debate.

5. Endure an additional thirty hours of debate before the final roll call vote.

Obtaining cloture is not necessarily a guarantee that the filibuster will be over. Some Senators have discovered loopholes that can still impede the legislative process. In the spring of 1976, Senators James Allen (D, Alabama) and Roman Hruska (R, Nebraska) developed a way to "filibuster by amendment" on an antitrust bill. Under Senate rules, pending germane amendments can be considered after cloture has been invoked. Allen and Hruska simply ensured that numerous amendments were offered. Since each amendment requires a roll-call vote lasting fifteen minutes or more, the two senators were able to tie the Senate up. After seventy separate roll-call votes, it became clear that no end was in sight. The bill's sponsors finally agreed to support an amendment proposed by Allen and Hruska.

Many Senators have proposed changes to minimize the effect of a filibuster. The last significant reform was adopted in 1975 when the Senate voted to change the required number of votes needed to invoke cloture. Prior to this date, two-thirds of the Senate, or sixty-seven votes were needed. Under the 1975 rule, this number was changed to three-fifths, or sixty senators. Some recent proposals include limiting the filibuster to one time per bill, further reducing the number of votes to invoke cloture, and limiting the amount of time for debate once cloture has been invoked.

Opponents to reform efforts argue that they will damage the Senate's ability to be a more deliberative chamber. They also contend that reforms would come as a disadvantage to those in the minority who want to make their voices heard.

Whatever the outcome may be, it is clear that the filibuster has been a tradition in the Senate for many years. It is one of the most distinctive differences between the Senate and the House and will always have some place for better or for worse in the legislative process.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bushsmandate; estrada; filibuster; infoispower; judicialnominees; lousydems; obstructionists; pickering; presidentbushlist; prolife
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Knowledge is power. The word 'filibuster' is being bandied about so much of late in reference to President Bush's judicial nominees that I thought it important for all FReepers to know exactly what it is, what it is used for, and how to overcome it. I've learned a great deal myself.
1 posted on 01/31/2003 2:54:28 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: PhiKapMom
Here it is! Please bump to your list and thank you for your help.
2 posted on 01/31/2003 2:55:38 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
Examples of the use of the word 'filibuster' in breaking news on Free Republic.
3 posted on 01/31/2003 2:58:44 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
Miguel Estrada's nomination moving into full Senate for a vote.
4 posted on 01/31/2003 3:02:14 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
"Democrats argued for more time to consider the nomination, but decided against trying to block Estrada in committee. Senators, however, expect a vigorous debate on the floor on Estrada, and Democrats previously have threatened a filibuster. It was not known when the full Senate will take up the nomination." AP report.
5 posted on 01/31/2003 3:04:44 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: Bonaparte
Thank you for contributing to my education!
6 posted on 01/31/2003 3:06:46 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
[W]e need to restore, against judicial usurpation, the separation of powers. That the decisions of the Supreme Court and many state supreme courts have less and less to do with the historic Constitution is undeniable. Indeed, that fact is glorified by those who urge the Court on to greater adventures in policy making. Justice Antonin Scalia accurately described the state of play: "Day by day, case by case, [the court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize."

The Supreme Court has created a more permissive abortion regime than any state had enacted; prohibited any exercise or symbol of religion touching even remotely upon government; made the death penalty extremely difficult to impose and execute; disabled states from suppressing pornography; catered to the feminist agenda, including outlawing state all-male military schools; created a labyrinth of procedures making criminal prosecutions ever more difficult; used racial classifications to exclude children from their neighborhood public schools; perverted the political process by upholding campaign-finance limits that shift political power to incumbents, journalists and labor unions; licensed the advocacy of violence and law violation; and protected as free speech computer-generated child pornography. These decisions are activist, i.e., not plausibly related to the actual Constitution.

Robert H. Bork, OpinionJournal.

The time to stop judicial activism is now. We must not allow the obstructionist use of the filibuster by Democrat Senators to prevent men and women of sterling character and proven history from being appointed to the judiciary.

7 posted on 01/31/2003 3:14:09 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: MeeknMing; JohnHuang2
Will you please help to spread the word? The guarantee of President Bush's great legacy will depend upon his judicial appointments as much as his handling of the War on Terror. Both have far-reaching implications to the continuation of peace and stability at home and abroad.
8 posted on 01/31/2003 3:19:14 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
Marching Orders:

"I fully expect pro-choice senators to filibuster any nominee
who does not affirm a woman's constitutional right to choose,"
NARAL President Kate Michelman warned.


9 posted on 01/31/2003 3:26:04 AM PST by .30Carbine (Inside Politics, thanks to Greg Pierce)
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To: TigersEye
Here is a continuation of the discussion we had a couple of days ago, with some solid answers.
10 posted on 01/31/2003 3:27:59 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: *President Bush list; *Pro_Life
We must fight judicial activism, support President Bush's judicial nominees, and do all we can to help our Republican senators fight the Democrat's filibusters.
11 posted on 01/31/2003 3:31:34 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine
If the dumbocrats strategy is to stage filibusters, they are walking a political tightrope without a net. Their whole party may be at stake.

The people have seen enough of their obstruction. They would be wise to learn a lesson from their defeat at the polls last November.

But then, we're talking dumbocrats here, and stupid is, as stupid does.

12 posted on 01/31/2003 3:36:38 AM PST by Bullish
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To: Bullish

True, NARAL lost something like 99% of their well-sponsered battles for pro-choice candidates in the last election. I hope that trend continues.

The Dems are either stupid or evil or both. They are not trying to hide their obstructionism or their pro-death stance. Rush was right: when the liberals are not in power they get even weirder.

13 posted on 01/31/2003 3:45:33 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine
Frist should INSIST that they actually DO filibuster. It's like someone saying they will take the FIFTH so the committee doesn't make them come in to do it.....I say MAKE them do it in front of the world.
14 posted on 01/31/2003 3:46:44 AM PST by Claire Voyant ((visualize whirled peas))
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To: RikaStrom; xsmommy; Slip18; Gabz; SeaDragon
Word for the Day fodder! (I'm late for work again, too.)
15 posted on 01/31/2003 3:49:04 AM PST by .30Carbine (LOLuv)
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To: Claire Voyant
I'm awful glad Frist is in there now, to lead us through these battles.
16 posted on 01/31/2003 3:50:14 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine
Rush was right: when the liberals are not in power they get even weirder.

Boy, aint' that the truth?

They go crazy when they can't control everything. And the funny part is, they couldn't manage a Taco-Bell in the real world.

They would have this country bankrupted 100 times over if it weren't for some fiscal conservatives on the right.

17 posted on 01/31/2003 3:51:36 AM PST by Bullish
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To: Bullish
And the funny part is, they couldn't manage a Taco-Bell in the real world.

That is both very funny and very true.

18 posted on 01/31/2003 3:56:15 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: All
In my most recent hard-copy issue of Human Events, in the Capital Briefs section, I read that "Hatch announced last week that he would drop the requirement that both senators from a given state submit positive reviews - or 'blue slips' - for a nominee to receive committee consideration.....if committee Republicans go along with Hatch, Democrats will have only the filibuster as a recourse against conservative judges."
19 posted on 01/31/2003 4:18:29 AM PST by .30Carbine (last bump before work)
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To: .30Carbine
What I want to know is, what's a fili and why would anyone want to bust one?
20 posted on 01/31/2003 5:17:39 AM PST by scooter2
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To: .30Carbine
Endure an additional thirty hours of debate before the final roll call vote.

How will Teddy K get his drinks?

21 posted on 01/31/2003 5:37:35 AM PST by Puppage (I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it)
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To: .30Carbine
There have been several interesting filibusters in Senate history, not all of them attributable to liberals. Strom Thurmond holds the record for a one-man filibuster against a civil rights bill. Some filibusters have been important and had some moral force; e.g. George Norris's filibuster against Wilson's proposal to mount artillary on passenger steamships on the brink of WW1.
22 posted on 01/31/2003 6:32:22 AM PST by DonQ
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To: .30Carbine; Brandonmark; Alex P. Keaton; MeeknMing; JohnHuang2; Dog Gone; Dog; isthisnickcool; ...
Thanks for putting this up!

Since the DemocRATs in the Senate keep throwing the term filibuster around, .30Carbine has researched the topic of filibuster and posted this thread.

Please keep .30Carbine's research handy because IMO we are going to be hearing a lot more talk of filibuster used in the months ahead as the DemocRATs attempt to obstruct.

Thanks again .30carbine for giving us an education with the facts! I know I learned some facts I didn't know before and some things I had wrong!
23 posted on 01/31/2003 6:43:55 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: .30Carbine; PhiKapMom; Jim Robinson; deport
Here is an excellent and quick review on cloture thanks to Deport: (Link to Cloture review)

This is exactly why we need at least 60 Republican Senators sworn in 2005 before President Bush is sworn in for his second term.

Jim posted about this necessity shortly after the November 2002 election, and Phi Kap Mom is our leader in this goal.

24 posted on 01/31/2003 7:20:51 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: .30Carbine; Bullish
Lets not insult the good Taco Bell managers. Maybe a better way to say it.

Left wing lunatics could not order at Taco Bell unless they used our tax $'s, and their voting cults would have to have an English interpertator to order.
25 posted on 01/31/2003 7:23:27 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: .30Carbine; PhiKapMom
WOW! Quick perusal indicates this is definitely a worthwhile post and bookmark.......Will be very interested to read this later. Thanks for the ping, PKM.
26 posted on 01/31/2003 7:23:55 AM PST by nicmarlo
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To: .30Carbine
Quick question on CLOTURE: I've heard the use of this word before, but I thought not necessarily regarding a filibuster.....any other info on cloture? Like what is it? Can it be used as a prevention to a filibuster, etc.? Thanks.
27 posted on 01/31/2003 7:28:25 AM PST by nicmarlo
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To: Grampa Dave
We really do need 60 votes in the Senate to stop this obstructionism that is only going to get worse the closer the election gets.

Heard on the radio from one of my Senators that they figure they have six months to get this accomplished in the Senate and then the Dims will start their posturing for the 2004 elections.

Figured we would get a heard start on here which is what started my upgrade to the Bush 2004 ping list. We needed to have a list of people that wanted to have the facts so that we could dispute the claims of the DemocRATs.

We need a forum to spread the word so we all need to pitch in and make Free Republic the best on the web where people can come for news stories, get the facts, and opinions of citizens across America.

It would be really nice if all Freepers would donate monthly so we don't have to have these fundraisers and could channel all our energy in making sure the DemocRATs lose big in 2004! If everyone gave monthly, then we could have one big fundraiser a year for extra things that might come up as we strive to make Free Republic the #1 site on the Net for factual news/opinions/activism!
28 posted on 01/31/2003 7:39:19 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: .30Carbine
Thankyou, Sweetheart! Knowledge is power, good job!
29 posted on 01/31/2003 7:50:57 AM PST by TigersEye (Democrat - the abortion party.)
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To: PhiKapMom
Your reply should be repeated and repeated. The time, skill and energy that goes into each Freepathon, could be used to blunt and stop the lunatic left all over America and even the world.

It would be really nice if all Freepers would donate monthly so we don't have to have these fundraisers and could channel all our energy in making sure the DemocRATs lose big in 2004! If everyone gave monthly, then we could have one big fundraiser a year for extra things that might come up as we strive to make Free Republic the #1 site on the Net for factual news/opinions/activism!

30 posted on 01/31/2003 7:56:22 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: nicmarlo
Please go to the link on my reply #24 for a quick and simple explanation of Cloture.
31 posted on 01/31/2003 7:58:27 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: .30Carbine
Thanks for the post. It's a very helpful summary of the filibuster tactic.

However, one critical aspect isn't covered. Appropriation bills are NOT subject to filibuster -- all votes require a majority only. The rationale is that appropriation bills are "the business of government" -- the day-to-day housekeeping, so to speak. Accordingly, Senate rules specifically exclude these bills from the filibuster tactic.

Thus, an amendment authorizing the sale of oil leases for exploration and production in ANWR can be attached to an appropriation bill -- and it cannot be filibustered. Since the sale of oil leases is a legitimate funding measure, it can be legitimately attached to an appropriations bill.

32 posted on 01/31/2003 7:58:39 AM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE.)
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To: Grampa Dave
Thanks!

Had these words in my head during the last fundraider and almost made this a thread of its own to tell people to get off the dime and donate after I got so sick and tired of all the donate pictures showing up on every thread and losing your train of thought after reading the article.
33 posted on 01/31/2003 8:02:04 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: Grampa Dave
Thanks, Grampa Dave, for the link and ping.
34 posted on 01/31/2003 8:04:00 AM PST by nicmarlo
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To: PhiKapMom
Do us a favor and put those words in your profile and some day post it as a vanity.

If Jim and John could be relieved from the fund raising tasks, they could come up with more creative and effective ways for Free Republic to halt socialism, communism, enviralism and Islamofacism.

17 cents per day or $5 per monthly donation is a great investment in keeping America free and ridding America of its internal enemies.
35 posted on 01/31/2003 8:12:19 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: nicmarlo
You are welcome. This sharing of knowledge is what makes Free Republic so effective as a weapon against the tyranny of the lunatic left, the Watermelon Enviral Jihadists, the communists, the socialists and of course the Islamofacists who would kill all of us.
36 posted on 01/31/2003 8:14:08 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: Bullish
And the funny part is, they couldn't manage a Taco-Bell in the real worol.

I would think that managing a Taco-Bell would be stressful and demanding.

37 posted on 01/31/2003 8:15:01 AM PST by HIDEK6
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To: .30Carbine
Thanks for posting this. Time for a ping now...
38 posted on 01/31/2003 8:26:29 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (9 out of 10 Republicans agree: Bush IS a Genius !!)
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To: Grampa Dave
Will be glad to! Freeing up the Robinsons from quaterly fundraisers should be our goal! Then have one big yearly fundraiser for extras that will make FR even better.

Maybe we could run a once a month thread encouraging people to donate monthly?
39 posted on 01/31/2003 8:36:26 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: .30Carbine; Alamo-Girl; onyx; SpookBrat; Republican Wildcat; Howlin; Fred Mertz; dixiechick2000; ...
What is a Filibuster?

Good information on Senate Obstruction procedure that the 'RATS might use to stop President Bush's judicial appointments.


filibuster
fil·i·bus·ter [ fílli bùst(schwa)r ]
noun (plural fil·i·bus·ters)
1.  politics political delaying tactic: a tactic such as a long irrelevant speech or several such speeches used to delay or prevent the passage of legislation

2.  politics legislative obstructor: somebody who uses obstructive tactics to prevent the passage of legislation



[Mid-19th century. Via Spanish filibustero  from, ultimately, Dutch vrijbuiter pirate (source of English freebooter).]



Please let me know if you want ON or OFF my General Interest ping list!. . .don't be shy.


40 posted on 01/31/2003 8:40:41 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (9 out of 10 Republicans agree: Bush IS a Genius !!)
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To: All
Correction of bad link, s/b...

[Mid-19th century. Via Spanish filibustero  from, ultimately, Dutch vrijbuiter pirate (source of English freebooter).]

41 posted on 01/31/2003 8:43:06 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (9 out of 10 Republicans agree: Bush IS a Genius !!)
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To: PhiKapMom; EdReform; Mo1; glock rocks; RottiBiz; EBUCK; dixiechick2000; SAMWolf
I think that essays like your great paragraph should just appear in a random basis. If we got to a once a month thing, then it could become a mini freepathon.

We can use our tag lines to present the concept of monthly donations with each reply and post we make.

Ed Reform is a great indexer of the good essays/replies re why we need more monthly donors and is very creative in the use of these older messages.

Whenever we have a victory like the recent one in Oregon where the stealth tax increase was defeated, and the lunatic left blames Free Republic. Those Freepers involved need to post that as another success story and ping a list of pro monthly donors. If they need some help in editing or making a post, they can contact some of us for help.

Probably only a few Freepers know about that Oregon victory and the left wingers whining about Free Republic. We need more Freepers to know about it, right Ebuck?
42 posted on 01/31/2003 8:44:30 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: PhiKapMom
Put that paragraph on my profile page as well as the info on the Bush 2004 ping list!

Thanks for the idea!
43 posted on 01/31/2003 8:44:58 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: Grampa Dave
Post #43 was meant for you!
44 posted on 01/31/2003 8:53:47 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: PhiKapMom
Thanks, sometimes our fingers are faster than our brains! :)
45 posted on 01/31/2003 8:58:44 AM PST by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: Grampa Dave
That's an understatement!

I was watching the postal truck on Fox being trailed by police -- guess it is a hostage situation in of all places Miami, FL!

Should have watched and not posted!
46 posted on 01/31/2003 9:02:40 AM PST by PhiKapMom (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: PhiKapMom
I was watching the postal truck on Fox being trailed by police

Has it run out of gas yet??

47 posted on 01/31/2003 9:21:05 AM PST by Mo1 (I Hate The Party of Bill Clinton)
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To: .30Carbine; PhiKapMom; MeeknMing
Thank you for the post and the pings!

PKM, if you get tired of the postal hijacking, VP Cheney's live on C-Span. (^;

48 posted on 01/31/2003 9:25:06 AM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl (289 Million Americans Avoid Peace Rallies. Press cover-up bigger than Watergate!)
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To: MeeknMing
Thanks for the heads up!
49 posted on 01/31/2003 9:27:43 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
VP Cheney's live on C-Span. (^;

THANK YOU!

50 posted on 01/31/2003 9:31:42 AM PST by Mo1 (I Hate The Party of Bill Clinton)
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