Enough of Soft & Fuzzy Bipartisanship: America Needs a Dissident Ticket

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bloomberg giuliani clinton.jpg
The other day, I mentioned Bloomberg’s increasing fascination with running for President. According to an inside Bloomberg source, the “environment is not yet right” to commit to a run, but “he’s working through the details of a possible strategy.”
Now we have news that former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren are convening a bipartisan group of 17 senior Republican and Democratic leaders at the University of Oklahoma on January 6th and 7th (list amended below).
The purpose, according to organizers, is to organize “truth-telling discussions” on issues of major national concern and to send a signal to both parties that this group wants to see real commitment to a bipartisan, unity government in the next presidential administration.
Nearly all commentators speculate that this effort could be used to punctuate the beginning of an independent party presidential bid.
But the organizers of this meeting are deluding themselves if they think that getting Republicans and Democrats behind a non-specific agenda is the real challenge for the nation — or is even worth all of this effort. Unprincipled, unfocused bipartisanship is bland, stale politics. And as Matt Stoller notes, bipartisanship too frequently is called on to anoint bad decisions to give both sides freedom from accountability.
This kind of effort reminds me of former Council on Foreign Relations Vice President Nancy Roman’s “Both Sides of the Aisle,” a well-intended but policy-lite treatment on what it would take to rebuild common cause across party lines and foster more bipartisanship. One of her core recommendations was that Republican and Democratic Members of Congress travel together on Congressional Delegations (CODELs) more frequently.
Traveling together does not remedy the fact that Republicans and Democrats were complicit in the Iraq War. Both parties have been complicit in the appropriations corruption that came with obscene Homeland Security spending around the nation. Both parties have been complicit in refusing to solidly challenge the most aggressive expansion of Executive Branch authority in more than a century. Both parties have been complicit in failing to shore up investment in the American economy and its workforce. Both parties have been complicit in allowing Americans to be spied on. Both parties have been complicit in allowing low level soldiers to take the hit for Abu Ghraib and allowing the decision-makers in the White House and Pentagon to get a complete pass.
The situation we have today was produced by aggressive, high-fear tactics of minority political operations within both the Republican and Democratic parties — that then cowed a party membership that passively followed.
But some dissidents have emerged — and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is probably the most important of these.
From what I know of Hagel, he is not bemoaning the absence of soft and fuzzy bipartisanship. He wants a change in policy — a change in the course of the nation.
What former Senator Sam Nunn seems to be saying in the commentary he has thus far provided on the upcoming meeting is that bipartisanship should be a goal unto itself. That’s wrong.
What the Republican and Democratic party members need to realize is that both of their party apparatuses have been taken over by a combination of ideological and utopian zealots as well as a policy-blind secretariat that passively follows the ideologues. The pragmatists and realists in both parties — particularly in foreign policy but also in other spheres as well — have been in decline.
The bubble of America’s greatness was punctured by Iraq. America’s hegemonic pretensions ended when the world saw America — which once seemed to have no bounds on what it could do — show its limits in the Iraq War.
When superpowers show their limits, allies are the first to recalculate their behavior because they won’t count on us as much as they did before. And enemies move their agendas.
America’s global national security position is eroding. The global equilibrium is in serious flux — and this is no time for ideological zealotry in either the Democratic or Republican parties.
But it’s not a time for purposeless bipartisanship either. This is a time to get serious about challenges and for the dissidents that have been dissatisfied to rebel.
The next President of the United States is going to be tested. Every troublesome player in the international system is going to kick the tires of our new President — much like Khrushchev did with Kennedy.
Ahmadinejad will spark something, testing us. Hu Jintao will throw some dust in the new president’s face. Kim Jong Il will remind the president that good behavior comes at a very high price. Hugo Chavez will work hard to embarrass the new occupant of the White House. Al Qaeda will engineer another mass casualty incident not just for their cause but to test the resolve of the new establishment in Washington. The Taiwanese will flirt with independence. The Israelis will test how much room they are given to run beyond what the Bush administration has already given them. And then there is Russia, and frankly a long roster of other nations that want to consolidate the appearance of their rising international power in the midst of the perception o American decline.
I don’t believe that bipartisanship solves the challenges ahead. New policies might help restore some balance and the beginnings of a positive direction. But what is needed now are rebels.
I think Hagel is that kind of rebel, though he is disgusted with Washington and both parties (perhaps a good thing) — and I think Michael Bloomberg is a hard core pragmatist. Neither of them is perfect, but they are a possible alternative to the less than compelling choices currently on the table.
Some believe that Bloomberg’s tough manhandling of protesters in New York disqualify him. Many progressives who like Hagel’s leadership in trying to bring the Iraq War to an end fear his social conservatism.
My only fear is that Sam Nunn (who may be auditioning for the VP slot himself with Bloomberg), David Boren, former Defense Secretary William Cohen and others concocting this January fest next week are more about getting Dems and Republicans to pal around together — not rebelling on the basis of policy that outrages them.
The sad but real truth today is that the Bush administration came in to office in 2001 under suspect circumstances but roared and behaved as if it had won an 80% mandate. The Democrats folded and gave Bush all the room to run he wanted. There is mutual responsibility and complicity in the results we have today.
I don’t want more bipartisanship for its own sake. I want dissident Republicans and dissident Democrats to make this government work in the way it is supposed to work — and to deliver on the policies that the public expects.
So a message to David Boren and Sam Nunn — whose personal animosity towards gays and lesbians many of whom have done great service to this country is not forgotten here — is make your meeting about an overhaul of American public policy both domestically and in the national security and foreign policy spheres.
If you have Dems and Republicans lining up behind those policies — terrific.
If not, this meeting is a waste of time and a fuzzy distraction.
— Steve Clemons
Those attending University of Oklahoma Unity ’08 Meeting:

Sam Nunn (Dem), David Boren (Dem), William Cohen (Rep), Christine Todd Whitman (Rep), Gary Hart (Dem), John C. “Jack” Danforth (Rep), Chuck Robb (Dem), Bill Brock (Rep), Michael Bloomberg (Ind), Chuck Hagel (Rep), Jim Leach (Rep), Alan Dixon (Dem), Susan Eisenhower (Rep/Ind), Bob Graham (Dem), David Abshire (Rep), Edward Perkins (Dem/Ind)

Comments

47 comments on “Enough of Soft & Fuzzy Bipartisanship: America Needs a Dissident Ticket

  1. rollingmyeyes says:

    Romney has proven that buying the Presidency by using an existing party is an uncertain thing. Smart of Bloomberg to dispense with that old fashion stuff. Remember the good old days when a simple five star general like Ike and a gentleman farmer like Stevenson could duke it out on a fairly level playing field?
    Things won’t change as long as money is speech and Congressional districts look like they were drawn by spiders.
    Ideologically, I’m aligned with Edwards. The question is does he have the heft to make it work.

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  2. digdug says:

    Bloomberg is not the great third-party outsider some are portraying him as. Perhaps the most stark example of this is Bloomberg’s lamenting the rejection of neocon-in-sheep’s-clothing JOe Liebermann in the Democratic primary. Here is a great blogpost laying out Bloomberg’s dubious status as bipartisan outsider:
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/12/31/bloomberg/index.html
    Hagel has much to answer for. In the years leading up to the Iraq invasion he was notoriously silent. He only began to speak out against the neocon misadventures after things began to go so badly that not even the MSM outlets could deny our ME foreign policy was in a disasterous tailspin. Basically, he only stepped forward when it was politically safe for him to do so.
    Hagel was a Bush/Cheney/neocon enabler. As of yet, he has not explained this in any way. If he has admitted it, I have missed it. Nor has Mr. Clemons, who is an ardent Hagel booster, offered any rationale for Hagel’s supposed heavyweight “realist” status now, when he was in early and full support of the Iraq invasion and neocon agenda in the first place.
    If Hagel is finally catching up with what many have been saying for years, since before the Iraq invasion and it was politically safe to do so, good for him. It’s about time.

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  3. Dennis says:

    If we want reality in the next election, let’s have a spot to mark, “None of the above.”
    (Sorry, Mr. Clemons, but I’ve watched Hagel, and I can’t share your confidence in him. He, too, is also a Republican game player).
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

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  4. Laney says:

    >>The Israelis will test how much room they are given to run beyond what the Bush administration has already given them.<<
    Beyond?! The Bushies have given Israel leave — and US taxpayer funding — to do anything they want to anyone they want. You can’t go beyond that.

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  5. Carroll says:

    “I have always believed that the fate of Israel and the future of New York City are deeply connected. If Israel’s democracy is compromised, so too are our freedoms here at home. A strong Israel means a strong America and a strong New York. And as Americans and New Yorkers, we must continue to stand with Israel as we have done for the past 58 years, and we must never lose our hope for peace.”
    Posted by susan at December 31, 2007 12:53 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Bloomberg said that? Why am I surprised.
    I look forward to the day when a campaign issue will be which candidates are runing for president of the US and which are running for president of Israel.

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  6. Carroll says:

    —Steve Clemons
    Ditto on the bipartisanship.
    All that means is they would agree to go along with more of each other’s self serving behavior and quit telling on each other.
    Seems to me that some like Nunn might be looking at congress’s approval rating and thinking our congressional criminal class in under threat and they need to close ranks to survive and keep their “establishment” system in place.

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  7. kotzabasis says:

    Dissidence in the critical times of a nation is poison to the body politic of the nation. In times of war fighting implacable determined enemies America needs a unity ticket. Only the politically naive-irresponsible and Foreign Affairs “fuzzy” romantics would “coquette” with dissidence in times of war.

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  8. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    When Russ Feingold can have a shot at the presidency then I’ll know this country is back on track. He’s the best man out there.

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  9. jf says:

    I forget, Steve. Are you concerned about our using torture to get information as a matter of course? Have you written recently about telecom immunity? Vast new powers to the executive branch? You honestly think that, not last year, or two or five years ago, but now, now is the time for all reasonable people to meet in the middle? Unless I am misreading you, it is your belief that the middle ground between Dems and Reps never moves.
    It is not the fault of the Democrats that a majority of Americans have turned away from trusting Republicans with control of all branches of government. Nor is it the fault of Republicans that Democrats have taken this trust and betrayed it every chance they get. I can see why someone might fantasize about installing an independent as President. Let’s stipulate that Bloomberg is Moses on rollerskates, he won’t win and you know that. And that could jeapordize a great looking shot for the party that is not for torture and stuff.
    I’ll give you an argument against an independent winning, if I haven’t been too uncivil thus far: I, as an American, want the rest of the world to take another look at us and what a democracy can do. In the face of unimaginable abuses to privacy and basic human rights by America, in the eyes of the world, when democracy chooses the opposite of that, our country remains stained but democracy’s name is restored. My argument is that an independent candidate should not win unless that candidate dedicates his campaign to giving democracy back it’s good name. America’s way back- to our founding fathers- is to demonstrate our love for the principles they fought and died for. The cornerstones of democracy.
    I would be really surprised if, as someone who is interested in America’s image around the world, you don’t agree that habeas corpus, the Geneva Convention, a right to privacy, trump throwing the Presidency to the Republicans. “Fuzzy distraction.” Remember the Iraq Study Group?

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, issued a press release this afternoon about Fox News’ presidential candidates forum scheduled for January 6. His release is below.
    We thank Mr. Cullen for his statement today and for his efforts with Fox News.
    *****
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Date: December 31, 2007
    Contact: Fergus Cullen, Chairman, New Hampshire Republican Party
    NH REPUBLICANS: DON’T LIMIT DEBATE PARTICIPANTS
    CONCORD – New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen releases the following statement regarding primary weekend debates:
    “Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with the tradition of the first in the nation primary. The level playing field requires that all candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate – not just a select few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast.”
    “Therefore, the New Hampshire Republican Party calls upon all media organizations planning pre-primary debates or forums for both parties to include all recognized major candidates in their events.”
    “The New Hampshire Republican Party has notified FOX News of our position, and we are in ongoing discussions with FOX News about having as many candidates as possible participate in the forum scheduled for January 6.”
    http://ronpaul2008.typepad.com/ron_paul_2008/2007/12/has-fox-news–2.html

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  11. Dave Huntsman says:

    A major problem here is that even with a dynamic, competent, nation-uniting winning dissident ticket – the system will still fight back, and mostly win. Even Al Gore noted earlier this year that things have gotten so bad that it is wrong to think even picking the right President will actually bring about the changes that are needed.
    As Bill Maher pointed out in August (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/what-i-did-on-my-summer-v_b_61551.html), a poll this summer showed that none-of-the-above received more votes than all of the Republican candidates. And that if none-of-the-above wins the Republican nomination, you can count on two things: that the Democrats will find a way to loose to it; and, the George Bush will call up and congratulate it.
    Normal ‘bipartisanship’ has led to the two parties to often split up Districts between them, and to often lead to no competing candidates at the local level. Focusing solely on a single national savior leaves all of this in place. It leaves Congress – and most states – broken.
    What is needed is a device that gives power back to the people: the ability on a ballot to select None of the Above, on the first ballot. If no one gets over fifty percent of the vote, there is a run-off (as in many countries) among the top 2 – BUT, no one who had already ‘lost’ to None of the Above could be considered, since the voters would have already decided they would prefer no one to that person. In the first real elections in Russia 15 years ago a similar system led many Communists who confidently ran un-opposed to lose their seats. And that sent a message.
    I see no other way to break the stranglehold that these two terrible, almost anti-American parties have on our body politic, unless we truly have the power to pick- and not pick – from among their choices. And such an electoral reform would scare the hell out of the two parties, and the special interests that control them.

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  12. jon says:

    You know what would be bipartisan? Republicans not using cloture votes and filibusters to prevent bills from being voted on in the Senate. You know what else would be bipartisan? Bush signing bills that the Congress sends to him, instead of his recent vetoes and lengthy, illegal ‘signing statements’.
    Our government was intended by the Founders to be contentious. There are policy differences and they should be strenuously argued before being voted on. Sometimes my side will lose, sometimes it will win, and the country will be the better for it.
    What we need less of is this hypocritical sanctimony that asserts that we shouldn’t argue our differences in public, and then puts its thumb on the scales. Where were these brave conciliators when Republicans were setting forest fires to obstruct Clinton? Most of them were happily rooting through his underwear drawer, is what.
    I do like the rising prominence of Bloomberg, for one reason. His record in NYC makes Giulliani look like the pygmy he is, and Mitt will also wilt in the comparison. Other posters have already correctly noted that Bloomberg has run as a Republican, supports Lieberman, and has abridged civil rights in NYC egregiously. But he’s still better than Giulliani.
    Bloomberg in the race could really damage Hillary. She’s DLC all the way, really the most centrist and ‘unity’ candidate in the race. She’s hooked up with AIPAC and a war enabler. I’ve always said that Bill Clinton was the best Republican president since Eisenhower. And if you liked Bill, you’ll love Hill. Just don’t expect her to do anything liberal.
    It’s sad that campaigning has turned into an exercise in inoffensiveness and pablum, but that’s where we are. Candidates are worried that their sock choices might cost them a vote somewhere. Romney’s the most honest with his abrupt volte face(s), while McCain’s the most abject.
    Americans are really pissed off that this Congress hasn’t cut war funding and brought a lot of troops home, among other things. But the electoral system is set up to slow the potential rate of change in representatives, and there seems to be a meager pool to select from that might really fight for their constituents.
    Unity and bipartisanship sound good, but they are disengeneuous. They really stand for letting the Republicans call all the shots, and everyone else should shut up. Thank you, Bill O. We’ve already tried that for the past 7 years and it hasn’t turned out so well – domestically or in foreign affairs.
    No, we need our government to actually do its job. We need to reverse the politicizing purges of career staff, and elect representatives that will fight for their constituents and not curry to their funders. It shouldn’t be so much to ask for.

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  13. Hedley Lamarr says:

    I agree with Jim about Danforth, a man whose religious fervor caused him to foist Thomas on us.
    On Unity, how can a party whose rule one is to break the government via endless tax cuts be expected to get along with a party that would raise taxes on the most wealthy so as to move toward a balanced budget and fiscal sanity.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I really don’t understand why people keep thinking that there hasn’t been “bipartisanship” these last seven years. Our representatives have been quite bipartisan in their successful efforts to fuck us over, ruin our credibility within the world community, wipe their asses with our Constitution, ignore their oaths of office, and allow our President to run roughshod over both domestic and international law.
    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2007/12/ron_paul_indeed_outfoxed_for_n.html
    Ron Paul indeed Out-Foxed (for now)
    by Jason George
    Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire State Republican Committee, confirmed Sunday evening to the Tribune that, yes, there will be a televised Fox News presidential candidate forum on Jan. 6, and yes, Rep. Ron Paul was not invited when the other candidates were a week or so ago.
    “My understanding is that five candidates to that point had been offered spots but the event is still coming together,” Cullen said.
    The candidates invited to the forum/debate – whatever you want to call it – will be Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Fred Thompson.
    Cullen said the event, which is set to take place two days before the New Hampshire primary, will be held in the afternoon or evening at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. When asked if Fox News, which is co-sponsoring the debate with the NH party, planned to invite Paul later, Cullen said he didn’t know.
    “It’s really premature. Just the other day candidates started to accept invitations.”
    On Saturday, Paul called Fox News “scared of me.” They “don’t want my message to get out, but it will,” according to The Boston Globe’s Primary Source blog.
    “They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”
    On Sunday night, Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said the campaign remains angry, and in the dark.
    “We have not heard anything else today,” he said. “[Fox] continues to ignore our calls.”

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  15. urbino says:

    Maybe I’ve become too cynical, but the whole thing looks to me like the Bush Doctrine as applied to politics.
    I see a group of conservative ex-politicians (they may be a bipartisan group of conservatives, but they’re still conservatives) who have not done a darn thing over the past 7 years to promote “bipartisanship,” suddenly getting religion when the prospect of a left-of-center Democratic sweep in 2008 comes into view.
    “The other side’s going to win? Well, wait a minute. We think everybody should commit to bipartisanship, doggone it!”
    It’s a pre-emptive defensive strike. A very obvious one. So obvious, in fact, I can’t believe anybody’s taking it seriously.

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  16. susan says:

    “disparate”
    Should be desperate.
    (Note to self: Don’t talk on the phone and write comments!)

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  17. susan says:

    fatbear,
    Rudy was supposed to be the “one”, but he tanked. Now the fat cats are pretty disparate for a Plan B. At the moment, it looks like Mike might do.

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  18. fatbear says:

    I would add to Alan in SF that Mike not only did all in his power to attempt to ban and stifle the NYC anti-war march prior to the invasion, but also invoked near dictatorial powers in repressing free speech in the summer of 2004, including imprisoning New Yorkers in conditions of filth and squalor – not to forget that I (and other New Yorkers) have to shoulder higher taxes to pay the lawsuit settlements for his follies. The man is condescending to all thought except his and his friends’, and all the more dangerous so for his wolf-in-sheep’s clothing “Ind” label – nor should we forget that he has just rammed through an exception to the city financial corruption rules in his own favor.
    If you don’t get my drift, he is neither honorable nor good.

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  19. Steve Clemons says:

    Fatbear – good comment about length, but frankly I don’t have the resources now to revamp an enforceable length function. Maybe in the future. But I assure you that there are folks that read each and every single post — even more than my own blog entries in fact.
    Your point about Bloomberg is well taken. I listed him, however, the way he declares himself now — and he’s formally withdrawn from the Republican Party.
    Alan in SF — good point…thanks for raising it. He also supported Bolton I have learned. I disagree on Hagel.
    More later,
    steve

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  20. Alan in SF says:

    Steve — Bloomberg was an early, enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq invasion, he tied it to 9/11, then continued to support Bush’s disastrous handling of it. Hagel was actually in a position where he might have shifted puiblic perceptions, yet did nothing except mumble harmlessly. How does that even begin to be a solution?

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  21. fatbear says:

    Steve – I was interested in making a point here, but the comments have become so overcrowded with extremely lengthy quotations from other sites that making a comment is useless; this is a shame.
    I know you don’t want to spend all your time moderating the comments, but don’t you think a length limit would be appropriate? After all, if one wants to cite another site, that’s what links are for.
    Anyhow, Happy New Year!
    And my point was to list Mike as an Ind is preposterous – he’s been elected twice as a Rep, supports Reps in other contests, and is at heart a dyed-in-the-wool Rep-style anti-democracy aggrandizer of power. I’m a New Yorker, and I will do everything in my power to make sure he returns to the private sector as soon as possible.

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  22. susan says:

    http://tinyurl.com/2x4rgc
    Memo To Bloomberg And Company: The Way To Reduce “Partisan Gridlock” Is To Further Weaken The GOP.
    December 31, 2007 — 10:17 AM EST
    Updated below.
    By now, you’ve probably heard that Michael Bloomberg and a bunch of retired politicians are going to hold a summit at the University of Oklahoma this week to talk about how desperately the nation needs a nonpartisan and independent leader like, you know, him to come in and lead the nation out of partisan gridlock.
    This story, fittingly, was first leaked to The Washington Post’s David Broder, a St. Paul-like figure who has long preached the virtues of the Beltway Gospel of Bipartisanship high and low across the land. Predictably, this planned gathering is already garnering the sort of awed and respectful coverage that greeted the formation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group nearly two years ago.
    So here’s the question: When these bearded elders descend on Oklahoma later this week, will anyone ask them what policies they stand for, beyond “breaking partisan gridlock”? Will anyone ask them where they stand on the issues? Will anyone ask why we’re supposed to believe that their actual stances have any chance of creating “bipartisan unity” at all?
    These questions are kind of relevant. Partisan gridlock happens because people — and by extension, political parties — disagree about stuff. One party wants to do one thing on a particular issue. Another party says No. The first party offers a few concessions. The second party still says No. That’s where “partisan gridlock” comes from — underlying disagreement on issues — and in our current case, the fault for our “partisan gridlock” isn’t equally distributed between the two parties. Rather, it’s almost exclusively the fault of the Republicans.
    You aren’t allowed to say this, but it’s true. If you don’t believe me, ask the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. They proposed a bunch of solutions to Iraq. The Democrats largely embraced these solutions. The Republicans, by contrast, didn’t. As a result, the ISG’s proposals didn’t happen — even though they had been authored by a distinguished bipartisan panel. The Republicans have been the near-exclusive cause of gridlock on multiple other issues, too — issues upon which there is already majority agreement on how to proceed. In reality, the best way to end partisan gridlock is to further weaken the Republican Party, which is tying government in knots and preventing it from carrying out the will of the majority on a host of fronts.
    Holding out the promise of bipartisan unity without saying why it is that your stances on issues will do anything at all to create that unity — as Bloomberg and friends are doing here — is just a sucker’s game designed to get these folks the sort of fawning attention that they’re already getting. One hopes that the press will start asking these worthies some tough questions about where they stand on stuff and why we should be listening to them.
    Update: Glenn Greenwald has the definitive take-down.
    Update II: Speaking of David Broder, The Washington Post has released some new info that suggests that Dan Froomkin’s aggressive anti-Bush polemics are far more popular with readers than is Broder’s mushy centrism.”
    And Greenwald adds:
    UPDATE: Greg Sargent says that “the best way to end partisan gridlock is to further weaken the Republican Party” because they’re responsible for most of it. I would put that a slightly different way: if the Bipartisan Centrist Mavens were really interested in solving the problems they claim motivate them, they would have been working against the Republicans’ stranglehold on our government for the last seven years, but they weren’t.
    Two of the trans-partisan Wise Men, Sam Nunn and Bill Cohen, published an Op-Ed yesterday purporting to list all of the problems they want to solve with Bipartisanship, including “our falling dollar,” “soaring budget and trade deficits,” “extended military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “the failures of bridges in Minneapolis and levees in New Orleans.” But that has all happened under one-party Republican rule. And in the 1990s, under the Clinton administration, those problems were managed well. If they were being honest about their motives and premises, they would have devoted themselves and still would be devoting themselves to removing the GOP from power, since that’s who has been running the country and created these problems.
    That’s not to say that the Democrats are the solution to all the world’s problems — they’re not — or that they really would reject establishment pieties (they largely would affirm them). But looking at things from the narrow perspective of the Bipartisan Unity crowd, the problems they cite are clearly GOP-created problems.
    Nonetheless, as Digby pointed out yesterday, none of them uttered a peep for the last seven years while the Bush-led Republicans degraded every aspect of our country. It was only once Democrats began to obtain more control and, worse, when angry populist sentiment started to increase, did these Serious Wise Men suddenly become so interested in intervening in order to prevent that backlash from occurring (a backlash they perceive to be enabled by a Democratic Party beholden to liberal elements). That’s why I agree with Digby today, who says: “Bloomberg’s candidacy, if it happens, is designed to deny the Democrats a victory in a year when the Republicans are so wounded and tired they probably can’t win it for themselves.”
    What they’re most interested in is ensuring that the same factions that have controlled our political establishment continue to do so, and in excluding any liberal, uncontrollable populism. That’s why they were so content for the last seven years while all of these Serious Problems raged without limit. At least the right people were in control.
    While they march self-righteously under the banner of non-partisanship, they’re just as partisan as anyone else, and their partisanship rests in overt hostility to any involvement by the people in running our government. It’s thus hardly a surprise that they are so attracted to a billionaire who can bypass democratic rituals and single-handedly flood our discourse with unprecedented amounts of controlled messaging. That’s exactly the sort of re-assertion of control by the establishment that they crave most, and their real fear is that the GOP is too discredited after 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Iraq to provide that.”

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  23. Steve Clemons says:

    Blogreader — I don’t know if Senator Hagel reads this blog or any blogs.
    I do know, however, that he is aware of the existence of The Washington Note.
    Best regards to you and all for the New Year,
    Steve Clemons

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  24. Escoffier says:

    How very grateful the ignorant voters will be to have these heroes to save us all from anyone chosen in actual elections such as primaries. How can the voting taxpayers want to support a populist who wants to change the wonderful policy apparatus in DC who have given us all such stunning successes such as the war in Iraq, unregulated mortgage markets, and our brilliant monetary policy.
    Voters cannot be trusted to do the right thing and keep our current moneyed interests in power, so we will watch the insiders manipulate our election system. We are saved! Everything can continue as is. Hurray, we can all sleep tight.

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  25. susan says:

    Spoiling For A Victory
    by digby
    “Glenn Greenwald has a nice rundown today on the policies of our lastest post partisan saviour, Michael Bloomberg, of the Wet Bloomer party. Let’s just say it all sounds familiar — a thrice married, pro-choice, New York mayor with distinct authoritarian tendencies and a bunch of jackass supporters and advisors. The only thing truly distinct about him is that he is a big money boy instead of a full-on fascist, a distinction that doesn’t matter much when it comes to what he would do as president.
    In reading Glenn’s rundown I realized, however, just what a problem this could be for the Democrats. It’s becoming clear now (and to my surprise, actually) that once Republicans got a look at their own mayor of Sodom, they just couldn’t stomach him, even though he explicitly promised to mow down as many dark people as he possibly could. He’s just too ethnic, too urban, too culturally removed.
    Unfortunately, Bloomberg’s the man an awful lot of Dem leaning independents have been yearning to vote for (particularly if the rhymes-with-witch wins the nomination.) There aren’t enough of them to win an election, of course. Just enough to screw the Dems.
    Here’s a man who has been in both parties and has now rejected both of them. What could be more wonderful that that! He is richer than God, and there is nothing that makes some American hearts go pitty-pat more than a fabulously wealthy billionaire who might pay a little lip service to poor people, but clearly isn’t going to do anything radical about it. Means he’s a winner. He doesn’t care about religion, and is pro-choice, so there’s little danger that he’ll make them uncomfortable around their friends. He doesn’t have any of the cultural signifiers of Perot, and while he’s not a complete neophyte (which really thrills swing voters) he hasn’t sullied his hands with too much politics, which means he isn’t tainted by that horrible epithet “politician.” Praise be.
    Let’s everyone be clear about what’s really happening and go from there. Bloomberg’s candidacy, if it happens, is designed to deny the Democrats a victory in a year when the Republicans are so wounded and tired they probably can’t win it for themselves, even if they cheat. The big money boys aren’t taking any chances.”
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  26. weldon berger says:

    Steve, who are the ideological and utopian zealots who have taken over the Democratic party apparatus? Really: I want their names, and I want to know what positions they espouse that can be described as representing ideological and utopian zealotry, and I want to know what power they have over the process, and how they exercise it.
    You told me once that you see problems with the behavior of left that you think I don’t see. Well, you’re right, but only because I don’t even see a left, let alone a Left. Clinton is a corporate lobbyist’s dream, Obama is a 1960’s Jesus freak’s dream, Edwards is oh so beyond the pale by virtue of a mild populist tinge that would have Huey Long giggling … where are these ideological zealots?
    You say Democrats and Republicans alike are responsible for Iraq, and so they are. How did Chuck Hagel vote on the issue? how has he continued to vote on it even as oozes wisdom on the subject? How did he vote on the Military Commissions Act, inaugurating kangaroo courts, decriminalizing torture and rescinding habeas corpus?
    Oh, what a fricken rebel he is.
    You say you want politicians who deliver on the policies the public expects, and then you dismiss concerns over Bloomberg’s authoritarianism and Hagel’s reactionary domestic politics. Well, excuse me, but the public expects, at least if polling is any guide, a government that delivers social services on a much larger scale than is done now, and that protects civil liberties. Bloomberg is no civil libertarian, and Hagel would never sign off on universal health care.
    Any moderate who doesn’t fear Hagel’s hidebound conservatism, any civil libertarian who doesn’t fear Bloomberg’s casual attitude toward civil liberties—part and parcel of his “relentless pragmatism”— or who thinks either man would shuck off those cloaks for the sake of the country if elected, is guilty of exactly the fuzzy bipartisan wishfulness you rightly decry.
    You pride yourself, and rightly so, on having helped to win the Bolton battle in the Senate. Imagine how much easier those types of struggles would be with any of the likely Democratic presidential nominees in office. All of them may subscribe to foreign policy strategies you dislike, but none of them are even close to as close-minded as the Bushies.
    And then imagine yourself fighting for the domestic policies you covet with president Hagel or president Bloomberg and a Congress not all that distinct from the one we have now. You know: the one that enthusiastically supported or ineffectively opposed, depending on the aisle, depending on the seat, every malicious, boneheaded and rapacious policy, foreign and domestic, Bush and Cheney could concoct. Does that sound like fun? Does it sound like a monumental step forward?
    The fact is that as egregiously ineffective as Congressional Democrats have been, and as philosophically corrupt as way too many of their leaders appear to be, the biggest problem this country has faced during the past two decades is a brutal, amoral Republican party that achieved apotheosis with the Bush administration. Placing the two parties on a par is the absolute height of intellectual dishonesty, and you really should quit it. Democrats are often pathetic, but they never have been and never will be as deliberately barbaric as the modern GOP.

    Reply

  27. Judy says:

    What a list of losers. William Cohen actively fought against Clinton’s policy in the Balkans. As a New Jersey resident, I can tell you that Whitman who borrowed money like it was going out of style when she was governor, is largely responsible for the fiscal mess New Jersey is in now. And to anyone familiar with Bloomsburg, the idea that he could win the presidency as an independent is ludicrous.
    There is no bipartisan solution to our problems both foreign or domestic.

    Reply

  28. blogreader says:

    this is really interesting, but it sort of slams a lot of these guys too. i wonder if any of the people you write about read twn.
    does anyone know if senator hagel reads this blog?

    Reply

  29. ceo says:

    Also, Donald Duck has adjusted his calendar and he will be in attendance.

    Reply

  30. jim wilson says:

    Steve
    Just look at the people at the conference.
    John Danforth–The Senator who gave America Clarence Thomas; for that alone he should have fallen on his sword long ago. Really not someone whose judgment should be trusted. The only time he has looked marginally competent is in comparison to John Bolton at the United Nations.
    Christine Todd Whitman–The happy parrot who kept insisting that the air around the World Trade Center site was clean. Oh well, it was only the working class is paying the price form that Bushism. And she probably doesn’t know any of them anyway.
    Alan Dixson–No moral highground here. Remember he is the Senator from Illinois who lost the Democratic primary to Carol Mosley Braun after voting for Clarence Thomas’ right to harass Anita Hill. I guess he just likes to see his name in the papers. He has not been taken seriously for a long, long time
    Chuck Robb–You have got to be kidding.
    Who could this group possibly include in the future?
    Simple, Joe Lieberman, who stands foursquare for Joe Lieberman; he certainly has much in common with this crowd. He enjoys seeing his name in the papers; although actually doing something like holding hearings of the Homeland Security Committee which he chairs seems too much like real oversite.
    Maybe we should add the perennial favorite son of the principlied bereft, Colin Powell. Who knows when we might want to start another war.
    I believe that too much time has already been given to this bunch of over the hill politicians.
    But wait, this dog and pony show could get legs.
    I envision a series of David Broder serious
    commentaries about this new important movement.
    He would be right; it is a movement.
    Jim Wilson

    Reply

  31. pauline says:

    see photo —
    rudy: “hmm…why is the woman next to me wearing pants?…hmm, was that wife #2 or #3 I saw last night?…”

    Reply

  32. Steve Clemons says:

    Lurker — thanks for posting the material on Bloomberg. It’s important to look at the entire profile. There is stuff I like about him — but there is much I simply don’t know. I think that I support his getting in the race because of the pressure it puts on the Dems and Republicans in the race.
    Dan — good post….and I’m not sure yet where I am on your provocative questions. I am a radical centrist — but the problem with that is that there are only ebryonic outlines of a stand alone ideology that contrasts with other options. Otherwise, it is just veneer on a compromise between right and left.
    I’m not ducking your questions — just need time to think them over. I disagree with you about American power. I’ve never been an advocate of America faking its way — I’m just chronicling the fact that America did fake much of the way and then decided to skate on thin ice economically and then rolled the dice badley in Iraq. I always thought we were weaker than either the Clinton or Bush administrations believed.
    We may be closer than you think on this — but when I have more time, we should work through the argument on both sides. It would be well worth doing.
    On those who ask about the ideologues on the left…I’m not referring to the netroots if that is what you are getting at….I’m referring specifically to a version of neoconservatism that is ascendant in Democratic Party circles…and it concerns me greatly.
    More later,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  33. pauline says:

    Christine Todd Whitman on this ’08 Unity meeting?
    The Christine Todd Whitman??
    If so, Christine, you a**h*le, you lying weasel. Do not pass “Go”, do not (under any circumstances) collect any public fees or salaries of any sort, go directly to h*ll.
    First, an overview from wikipedia,
    “Whitman appeared twice in New York City after the September 11 attacks to inform New Yorkers that the toxins released by the attacks posed no threat to their health.[11] On September 18 the EPA released a report in which Whitman said, “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.”[12] Later, a 2003 report by the EPA’s inspector general determined that such assurances were misleading, because the EPA “did not have sufficient data and analyses” to justify the assertions when they were made.[13] A report in July 2003 from the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response gave extensive documentation supporting many of the inspector general’s conclusions, and carried some of them still further.[14] Further, the report found that the White House had “convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones” by having the National Security Council control EPA communications after the September 11 attacks.[15]
    On June 27, 2003, after having had several public conflicts with the Bush administration, Whitman officially resigned from her position to spend more time with her family.[16] In a later interview, Whitman claimed that Vice President Dick Cheney’s insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, led to her resignation.[17]
    Second, more detail from —
    http://visibility911.com/jongold/?p=162
    September 13, 2001
    EPA administrator Christie Whitman recommends that New Yorkers who evacuated their homes after the collapse of the World Trade Center “vacuum everything, including air conditioning filters, and wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth,” Newsweek reports. [Newsweek, 9/14/2001; Jenkins, 7/4/2003 pdf file] The recommendation is made despite two studies completed for the EPA in 1993 demonstrating that HEPA vacuums do not effectively remove asbestos from carpets and upholstery (see 1993) and that vacuuming actually increases asbestos levels in the air during use (see 1993).
    September 14, 2001
    EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman is quoted by Newsweek saying that the smoke plume at the World Trade Center disaster site is “not a health problem.” She says: “We have found particulate matter in the air, but other than being an irritant to those people who are out there breathing it deeply that’s why people are wearing protective gear and masks it is not a problem for the general population.” [Jenkins, 7/4/2003 pdf file]
    September 15, 2001
    EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman says with regard to Manhattan’s air quality, “[T]here is no reason for concern.” She says that her agency is regularly sampling airborne particles and that findings indicate that most locations have an asbestos level of less than one percent�the amount above which the EPA considers a material to be “asbestos-containing”, but notes that the highest recorded reading so far was 4.5 percent (see (Between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. September 11, 2001)). [Newsday, 9/16/2001] But the EPA is wrong to use the one percent level as if it were a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)). Furthermore, its test results are not accurate, as they are based on the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method which is incapable of identifying fine fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when it is present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990).
    September 18, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announces that results from further air and drinking water monitoring near the WTC site and the Pentagon indicate that there are few significant risks to public health. “We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” she says. “Most” of the 62 dust samples taken by the agency contained less than one percent of asbestos. [Environmental Protection Agency, 9/18/2001] The EPA incorrectly uses the one percent level of ambient asbestos as if it were a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)). Moreover, the test results Whitman cites are based on the less sensitive and outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method which is incapable of identifying ultra-fine asbestos fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990). Whitman�s statement also observes that where asbestos levels have exceeded the EPA’s one percent “level of concern,” the “EPA has operated its 10 High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) vacuum trucks to clean the area and then resample.” She adds that the trucks have also cleaned the “streets and sidewalks in the Financial District in preparation for, return to business.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 9/18/2001] However, it is later discovered that the contractor hired to clean the streets failed to equip the vacuum trucks with the required HEPA filters. [New York Daily News, 8/14/2002; Kupferman, 2003 pdf file]
    September 21, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christie Whitman assures New Yorkers that environmental conditions in Manhattan, both inside and outside, are safe, and provides a summary of the tests that have so far been performed on the city’s air and drinking water.
    Water – Whitman says: “As we continue to monitor drinking water in and around New York City, and as EPA gets more comprehensive analysis of this monitoring data, I am relieved to be able to reassure New York and New Jersey residents that a host of potential contaminants are either not detectable or are below the Agency’s concern levels. Results we have just received on drinking water quality show that not only is asbestos not detectable, but also we can not detect any bacterial contamination, PCBs or pesticides.” She does say however that “following one rainstorm with particularly high runoff, we did have one isolated detection of slightly elevated levels of PCBs (see September 14, 2001).”
    Outdoor air – Whitman says that outdoor air sampling does not indicate the existence of significant public health risks. This claim is based on results obtained using the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method (see September 12, 2001) which is incapable of identifying ultra-fine fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990). Even though Whitman denies a significant risk to public health, she does say “seven samples taken at or near Ground Zero have had marginally higher levels of asbestos that exceed EPA’s level of concern,” and that her agency has “done a total of 101 dust samples, of which 37 were slightly over the one percent asbestos.” Whitman does not mention that the EPA’s “level of concern” is not a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)) but rather the detection limit of the polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method (see November 20, 1990).
    Indoor air – Whitman claims, “New Yorkers and New Jerseyans need not be concerned about environmental issues as they return to their homes and workplaces.” But the EPA has no data indicating that indoor air is actually safe. The only indoor tests that have been conducted by the EPA were in the EPA’s Region 2 offices located in the Federal Building and a few neighboring buildings, and the results from several of these tests were positive for chrysotile asbestos (see September 13, 2001-September 19, 2001). [Environmental Protection Agency, 9/21/2001; Office of US Congressman Jerrold Nadler, 4/12/2002 pdf file]
    September 28, 2001
    National Ombudsman Robert Martin sends a memorandum to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman suggesting that the agency implement the recommendations in the General Accounting Office’s July 2001 report (see July 27, 2001). He advises against a proposal under consideration that would move his office to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). He argues that doing so would not increase the ombudsman’s independence and notes that the ombudsman’s mission is very different than the OIG’s. [Environmental Protection Agency, 11/26/2001 pdf file; US Congress, 6/25/2002]
    October 3, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and John Henshaw, US Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for OSHA, announce that their two agencies “have found no evidence of any significant public health hazard to residents, visitors or workers beyond the immediate World Trade Center area.” But later in the statement, they acknowledge that to date, “Of 177 bulk dust and debris samples collected by EPA and OSHA and analyzed for asbestos, 48 had levels over 1 percent, the level EPA and OSHA use to define asbestos-containing material.” Additionally, they say that out “of a total of 442 air samples EPA has taken at Ground Zero and in the immediate area, only 27 had levels of asbestos above the standard EPA uses to determine if children can re-enter a school after asbestos has been removed.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 10/3/2001]
    October 31, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christie Whitman continues to reassure the public regarding environmental conditions in Lower Manhattan and says: “Those of us in government and the media share an obligation to provide members of the public, in a responsible and calm manner, with the information they need to protect themselves and their families from any environmental hazards that may result from the attacks on the World Trade Center.” [New York Daily News, 10/31/2001]
    Morning November 27, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman announces that the National Ombudsman Office will be relocated to the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) and that control of all National Ombudsman cases will be likewise transferred to the OIG. She claims the change “will give the ombudsman more independence and the impartiality necessary to conduct credible inquiries.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 11/27/2001] The planned change would give the EPA OIG authority to exercise editorial control over the ombudsman’s comments if they concern criminal investigations. [Associated Press, 4/8/2002] Additionally, under the plan the EPA OIG would decide which cases are investigated. Decisions regarding budgets and staff would also be handled by the OIG. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/23/2002] Ombudsman Robert Martin vehemently objects to the plan, telling The Washington Post in an interview that putting his office under the OIG would effectively dissolve the national ombudsman function at the EPA. “I translate that as the IG is taking over my cases. They’re going to review and determine whether complaints citizens have made have merit,” Martin explains. “They’re going to be doing my job.” [Washington Post, 11/29/2001; Associated Press, 4/8/2002]
    Afternoon November 27, 2001
    EPA ombudsman Robert Martin writes to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman criticizing her decision (see (September 28, 2001)) to transfer his office to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Martin challenges her assertion that this would result in greater autonomy, noting that the IOG had previously “interfered with [a] National Ombudsman investigation” of the Marjol Batter Site. [Environmental Protection Agency, 11/26/2001 pdf file]
    November 28, 2001
    EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, appearing before Congress, states: “Under the provisions of PDD 62, signed by President Clinton in 1998, the EPA is assigned lead responsibility for cleaning up buildings and other sites contaminated by chemical or biological agents as a result of an act of terrorism. This responsibility draws on our decades of experience in cleaning up sites contaminated by toxins through prior practices or accidents.” Her deputy, Linda Fisher, will repeat this to Congress a week later (see December 5, 2001). [US Congress, 4/12/2002]
    December 7, 2001
    Eighteen United States Congressional representatives write to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman requesting that she refrain from transferring the National Ombudsman’s office to the EPA’s Inspector General until after Congressional hearings on the issue have been held in early 2002. Nine additional Congressional representatives write to Whitman on December 19 (see December 7, 2001). [US Congress, 6/25/2002]
    December 19, 2001
    Nine US Congressional representatives write to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman asking that she refrain from transferring the National Ombudsman office. Eighteen Congressional representatives have already submitted the same request to Whitman (see Afternoon November 27, 2001). [US Congress, 6/25/2002]
    January 2002
    Joe Martyak, spokesman for EPA in Administrator Christie Todd Whitman’s office, tells MSNBC that “indoor air is beyond EPA’s jurisdiction.” [MSNBC, 1/11/2002] Martyak’s assertion is contradicted by recent EPA activities and the agency’s obligations under the National Contingency Plan (NCP) (see After November 1, 2001).
    January 10, 2002
    EPA National Ombudsman Robert Martin and the Government Accountability Project (GAP) file a lawsuit challenging EPA Administrator Christie Whitman’s plan to relocate the ombudsman’s office to the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) (see Morning November 27, 2001). [Associated Press, 1/10/2002]
    January 11, 2002
    US Federal District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts issues a temporary restraining order preventing EPA Administrator Christie Whitman from implementing a plan (see Morning November 27, 2001) to transfer the ombudsman’s office and investigative files to the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The restraining order will expire in early April (see April 6, 2002). [Salon, 1/14/2002; US Congress, 6/25/2002]
    February 27, 2002
    Eric Schaeffer, 47, head of the EPA’s Office of Regulatory Enforcement, sends his letter of resignation to EPA administrator Christine Whitman. In the letter he says that he and his colleagues have been “fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules that [EPA employees] are trying to enforce.” He complains that the administration is crippling the EPA’s enforcement divisions with budget cuts and that the White House is working with energy-industry lobbyists to weaken the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act which requires older coal power plants to install pollution controls when upgrading plant equipment (see August 27, 2003). [Schaeffer, 2/27/2002; Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/1/2002; Washington Monthly, 7/2002; New York Times, 1/5/2004; MSNBC, 4/20/2004]

    Reply

  34. rich says:

    This effort is intended to create a third-party spoiler candidacy–in the vein of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader–that knocks votes out from under a winning Democratic ticket, be the nominee Edwards, Obama or Clinton.
    These guys–Boren & Nunn, clearly–but the rest of ’em too, are neither bipartisan nor moderate centrists.
    WERE they bipartisan or moderate in any way shape or form, they’da spoken out to temper a) the extremism required to force the impeachment of Clinton for personal business, not matters of State; and b) to rein in Bush’s radicalism.
    But they said nothing.
    Now that a Democratic nominee is poised to win the White House, out comes the grave and somber council of wise men forced by circumstance to save the nation from, well, politics.
    These guys went missing for the past 12 and 16 years.
    NOW they wanna steer the Ship of State. Sure, baby, here’s the keys to the kingdom.
    Boren was a Cold War hawk, and hasn’t said word one about Bush’s misadventure in Iraq. He spent so much time dancing around the golden calf of national security and state secrecy that he might as well have written the instruction manual for Bush’s abuse of power.
    These guys ain’t got what it takes to lead this country. And their agenda can’t stand the light of day.
    I’ll happily grant that Hagel and Graham made noises here and there. But these are the same old faces and the same tired minds that set the stage for the current set of economic doldrums and foreign quagmires in which the US is currently mired.
    Let’s see their policies. Until that’s spelled out—in detail—the country’ll get behind fresh blood, whether Edwards or Ron Paul, doesn’t matter. As long as it’s not Nunn & Boren, we’ll be just fine.
    NOte: digby @ Hullabaloo, and others, have also noted Nunn-Boren injected their supposedly ‘bipartisan’ rhetoric ONLY when the corrective pendulum’s swinging back to center, back towards the Dems.
    But none point to the damage a spoiler candidate will do just as the Dems seem a sure bet to capture the White House.

    Reply

  35. susan says:

    Glenn Greenwald on Bloomberg:
    Michael Bloomberg: Trans-partisan savior
    “Following along in David Broder’s excited footsteps, Sam Roberts in The New York Times reports that Michael Bloomberg “is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.” And a handful of retired, mediocre politicians with no following are issuing self-absorbed, thug-like demands, complete with deadlines:
    Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized the session with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested in an interview that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”
    Is it even theoretically possible for Democrats to “cooperate” more with Republicans than they’ve been doing since taking over control of Congress?
    The NYT article quotes actor Sam Waterston of the painfully silly, substance-free Unity ’08 group describing the promise of Bloomberg’s candidacy as promoting “Unity08’s principal goals of a bipartisan, nonpartisan, postpartisan ticket.” The website Unite for Mike — a grass-roots movement that now has 500 supporters! — says that Bloomberg “has the vision, experience and passion of a true and demonstrated leader” and that Bloomberg can solve this problem: “Our international leadership has become confused and directionless. We are no longer the shining beacon of freedom and justice to our fellow nations.”
    Here’s Bloomberg’s record of Independence, Judgment, Competence, and Trans-partisan Wisdom. Consider how sterling his judgment is and how able he would be to make the world respect us again:
    NYT, May 11, 2004:
    Laura Bush and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stood shoulder to shoulder yesterday in an appearance that may well dispel any lingering doubt as to the mayor’s feelings about the president, or of the mayor’s own political identity. . . .
    [T]here he was yesterday, throwing in his words of support for the president’s decision to invade Iraq — promoting one of the notions that is central to the rationale for the attack, that the conflict was justified by what happened on Sept. 11.
    “Let me add something to that,” Mr. Bloomberg said after Mrs. Bush gave her defense of her husband and his decision to go to war. “Don’t forget that the war started not very many blocks from here.”
    Joe Conason, Salon, June 22, 2007:
    Dating back to his infatuation with Bush, the mayor has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq. He marched lockstep in the Bush drive toward invasion when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September 2002: “Freedom comes at a price, and tragically, sometimes that price is the commitment to defend freedom by arms. America has been, is, and always will be willing to do its duty — to sacrifice even its own blood, so that people everywhere can live as individuals responsible for their own destinies.” (As Wayne Barrett once pointed out in the Village Voice, the man spouting this brave talk got out of the Vietnam draft because his feet are flat.)
    Bloomberg’s pro-war rhetoric dutifully echoed the White House line connecting Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida and 9/11, almost as if Karl Rove had programmed his brain. “I’m voting for George W. Bush and it’s mainly because I think we have to strike back at terrorists,” he said in September 2004. “To argue that Saddam Hussein wasn’t a terrorist is ridiculous. He used mustard gas, or some kind of gas, against his own people.”
    Bloomberg’s speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention:
    I want to thank President Bush for supporting New York City and changing the homeland security funding formula and for leading the global war on terrorism.
    (APPLAUSE)
    The president deserves our support.
    (APPLAUSE)
    We are here to support him.
    (APPLAUSE)
    And I am here to support him.
    (APPLAUSE)
    NYT, January 29, 2004:
    We are going to get George W. Bush re-elected as president of the United States! We are going to carry New York City and New York State. Everybody thinks I’m crazy, but I think we can do it.
    Wayne Barrett, Village Voice, October 18, 2005:
    Even though the City Council passed a resolution opposing the war, Bloomberg called an old friend, Paul Wolfowitz, to express his desire to host a ticker tape parade “to say thank you,” apparently as unaware as the “Mission Accomplished” president that the troops would not be coming home for years. Bloomberg actually contributed $5 million to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Affairs in the late ’90s, when war architect Wolfowitz was dean. . . .
    Even before the war, Bloomberg brought his mother and daughter to the United Nations, where he addressed the General Assembly a day after Bush did in September 2002. Echoing Bush’s warnings that the U.S. would go it alone if the U.N. didn’t act, Bloomberg “praised” Bush’s war on terror “and offered support for an attack on Iraq,” according to the Daily News.
    Michael Bloomberg Press Release, July 17, 2006, as the Israeli bombing of Lebanon proceeded:
    Israel rightly continues to defend itself from unprovoked attacks on innocent civilians, and the killing and abduction of Israeli soldiers by the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Let there be no doubt: Hamas and Hezbollah must return the Israeli soldiers they abducted and cease their attacks against Israel.
    I have said time and again that you cannot negotiate when there is a gun to your head. The international community needs to send a clear message to these terrorist organizations — and the countries that fund and support their reign of terror — that these kinds of attacks on peaceful, democratic nations will not be tolerated. . . . .
    I commend President Bush and his cabinet for their continued support of Israel and its right to defend itself. I deeply hope that the fighting will end soon, and that all the innocent people affected by this conflict will again be safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those soldiers who have fallen in combat, the brave sons and daughters of Israel who are defending Israel’s freedom at this very moment, and with the people of Israel who are an inspiration to all of us as they continue to go about their lives in the face of such uncertainty.
    I have always believed that the fate of Israel and the future of New York City are deeply connected. If Israel’s democracy is compromised, so too are our freedoms here at home. A strong Israel means a strong America and a strong New York. And as Americans and New Yorkers, we must continue to stand with Israel as we have done for the past 58 years, and we must never lose our hope for peace.
    Rolling Stone, August 22, 2006:
    Bloomberg, in fact, identifies strongly with the defeated Democrat from Connecticut. “I think what they’re doing to Joe Lieberman is a disgrace,” the mayor volunteered when I met with him in his offices in July, shortly before anti-war bloggers helped Ned Lamont beat Lieberman in the primary. . . . A few days later, Bloomberg was offering to campaign for Lieberman…”
    There’s more: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

    Reply

  36. Lurker says:

    Just saw this article from New York magazine (10/01) about the sexual harassment charges leveled at Bloomberg by his staff. Pretty convincing and frightening accusations.
    IMO Bloomberg is NOT progressive — he is a sexist jackass who will screw (perhaps literally) anyone to get what he wants, and has the billions to do it. His megalomania makes that of the Bush/Clinton’ dynasties seem pedestrian, and almost decent, by comparison:
    ENTIRE ARTICLE AT LINK
    “The existence of three sexual-harassment cases against Bloomberg L.P. had been well reported — so much so that I could hardly imagine that there’d be more to learn. Bloomberg’s alleged admonition to a pregnant employee — “Kill it” — had been widely noted.
    The fact that he was running at all for high public office with three different sexual-harassment suits circling around him seemed to indicate on his part lots of confidence that there was little here (alternatively, it could indicate a particular level of hubris). The Bloomberg response to the frequent press inquiries about these lawsuits was that all companies get these suits, and that getting only three was a pretty good record — which, on the face of it, seemed credible.
    But curiosity got the better of me.
    The suits, which focus on the early to mid-nineties, are in fact not just about Bloomberg the company but about Michael Bloomberg himself and the immediate coterie of executives surrounding him. The publicly available documents, if we are to believe them, all or in part, offer a nearly novelistic picture of Bloomberg: They capture the same voice as in the little booklet, a voice that you can hear all over Wall Street. But the voice here is racheted up from even Wall Street primitivism. Where the Wall Street voice is always a sort of primal “this is our world” proclamation, the Bloomberg voice in these papers takes the next step: This is my world — and I’m going to do what I want and it’s going to be done the way I want it done.”
    http://tinyurl.com/22xgav

    Reply

  37. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, Steve, you really let fly here with your some of your trademark evocative temperamental doublethink. You’re fond of political koans about “radical centrists”, “dissident pragmatists”, “rebel realists” and such. I guess the idea is that if one is exquisitely centrist, non-ideological and pragmatic, one is then so different from the vast run of people, who are themselves off the center in one direction or another, that one qualifies as a “dissident”. It’s hard for me to buy that one. That’s like saying that if there happens to be only one individual who possesses the precise mean value of some property a standard distribution, that person is an “outlier”. Anyway, you’re very short on specifics.
    When the new president is tested, what exactly is that president supposed to do? What agenda is to be carried out? What overarching national goals are to inform the responses to these crises and tests? Aspiring for hegemony? Maintaining our existing “national security position”? What exactly?
    In short, I have no clear idea what the Steve Clemons New World Order looks like. I gather it looks a lot like the old world order, the one under which you and I grew up, but which we both recognize seems to be disintegrating. Is it your idea that it is not to late to rebuild it? Or do we need something else?
    Part of your thesis seems to be that if there is one thing the two parties agree on, it is “extremism”, and that the problem is that both parties are letting the existing American hegemonic order crumble through their polarizing “zealotry”.
    I find this hard to believe, at least in the case of the Democrats. In fact, the Democratic party has been dominated by the centrist DLC wing for about 15 years. Hillary Clinton is a DLC leader and has been the presidential front-runner all year. The only really left-wing candidate is Dennis Kucinich, who has been perpetually mired in single digits.
    The major Democratic candidates have all authored foreign policy statements in Foreign Affairs, and none of these seem to deviate in any substantial way from the beltway approved consensus of the old hands from both parties, newly re-forged in consensus-building efforts such as the Princeton Project and the Center for a New American Security, and properly deferential to the customary understanding of American interests and American power. You have to read very closely to find inklings of hints about significant differences.
    One thing I continue to be fascinated by is your “fake your way to power” philosophy. You frequently seem to suggest that the key to power is the manufacturing of illusions, and that the big problem with the Iraq war is that it dispelled these illusions. Hegemonic states are to create a magical and superstitious aura of boundless power, but avoid exercising that power in a way which lets friends and enemies see it is mostly smoke and mirrors. This approach seems … um … unsustainable. You can’t fake it forever. Eventually people will find you out.

    Reply

  38. David N says:

    What we need is not bipartisanship — which, by the way, means, as far as Bush and his minions in the government and media are concerned “Doing it my way.” — but nonpartisanship.
    The problem has been a product of the Republican thugocracy, who have stated that their purpose is to render the Democrats irrelevant (remember The Hammer declaring that he did not want to pass any bills that a Democrat will vote for?). They have made clear that their first loyalty is to party, power, and profits for their corporate sponsors. What else was their take-over and abuse of the Justice Department — which is still ongoing — about?
    What we are missing are politicians who give a shit about their oaths of office. Who spend two seconds considering the interests of the country or its citizens. They are completely consumed with soliciting bribes — sorry, “campaign contributions” — and completely servile to those who have bribed them.
    Steve, you’re on the right track, but you’re not even close. Sure, public financing of elections is a start. More important is removing the power of money entirely by declaring that money is not speech and therefore the rich have more access to the First Amendment than the poor; removing the power of power by declaring that corporations are not persons, are not covered by the Bill of Rights, and are subject to laws and regulations that keep them completely out of politics — fat chance, that.
    What we need are policies that benefit people rather than corporations, and that is unlikely as long as corporations — through their control of the news and other media, and domination of the terms of debate — determine how most Americans even think about these issues.
    Certainly, I share your contempt for the shills running for President, whose only quality is desperation. They are, however, but the end product of a way of thinking that turns politicians into pawns, news into vacuous sound, information into opinion, and government into a commodity like everything else.

    Reply

  39. susan says:

    Steve writes:
    “What the Republican and Democratic party members need to realize is that both of their party apparatuses have been taken over by a combination of ideological and utopian zealots…”
    Exactly who are the ideological and utopian zealots who control the Democratic Party? Man, if any existed, I would whoop for joy!
    Yesterday, Digby had this to say about the “centrist drivel” you are advocating. Here is how she begins:
    Bipartisan Zombies
    by digby
    It was inevitable. I wrote about it right after the 2006 election — as soon as the Republicans lost power, I knew the gasbags would insist that it’s time to let bygones be bygones and meet the Republicans halfway in the spirit of a new beginning. GOP politicians have driven the debt sky-high and altered the government so as to be nearly unrecognizable, so logically the Democrats need to extend the hand of conciliation and move to meet them in the middle — the middle now being so far right, it isn’t even fully visible anymore.
    Today we have none other than the centrist drivel king, David Broder, reporting that a group of useless meddlers, most of whom who were last seen repeatedly stabbing Bill Clinton in the back, are rising from their crypts to demand that the candidates all promise to appoint a “unity” government and govern from the the center — or else they will back an independent Bloomberg bid.
    Boren said the meeting is being announced in advance of Thursday’s Iowa caucuses “because we don’t want anyone to think this was a response to any particular candidate or candidates.” He said the nation needs a “government of national unity” to overcome its partisan divisions in a time of national challenge he likened to that faced by Great Britain during World War II.
    “Electing a president based solely on the platform or promises of one party is not adequate for this time,” Boren said. “Until you end the polarization and have bipartisanship, nothing else matters, because one party simply will block the other from acting.”
    Except the one party is called the Republican Party. When was the last time the Democrats blocked anything?…”
    Read it all: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  40. DonS says:

    How could the U.S. be in anything but decline?
    With the globalization of economics, real power is dispersed (no need to quibble over who accelerated the process). All the big money holders are immune from the decline of an individual economy, even if its the U.S. and even if recession effects the rest of us.
    In a truly global marketplace, the U.S. is no longer in control. Real control, real security can only be achieved across borders in the long run.
    But the right wing hates the notion of true global coordination; detests the U.N. with a passion. And the left wing? Well, we know what a marvelous job the “center” has done in distancing themselves from ideas branded “world government” by the right. Another example of being cowed by the idealogues. Who ever imagined that the U.S. would actually “need” cooperation; not just dictate the terms?
    So, in the short run, the chimera of American greatness can only be propped up by threats and force. Not what we want to see by way of a rational, new approach forward led by dissidents.
    Will any potential so-called leader embrace such a reality, if I’m even half close?

    Reply

  41. kth says:

    both of their party apparatuses have been taken over by a combination of ideological and utopian zealots as well as a policy-blind secretariat that passively follows the ideologues.
    unsubscribe

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  42. Lurker says:

    I think that it’s interesting (and somewhat frightening) that our kind web host is playing down the full frontal assault that Michael Bloomberg committed on OUR Bill of Rights
    during the 2004 GOP convention in New York City.
    Steve, I like you a lot, but you’re scaring me by playing down the thuggery that Bloomberg engaged in — Bloomberg’s acts were the antithesis of what our Founding Fathers envisioned as what was allowable in a free nation!
    Please see the articles (ALL ARTICLES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES OR WASHINGTON POST) below for proof that:
    * Bloomberg’s NYPD spied on POTENTIAL protesters ACROSS THE U.S. in advance of the 2004 GOP convention.
    * Bloomberg imprisoned peaceful protesters and bystanders alike in warehouses full of toxic waste without access to legal or medical aid.
    * Bloomberg then tried to keep secret all documents, videotapes and testimonials surrounding law suits filed by those imprisoned by using this excuse:
    “The city (of New York) contends the materials could be embarrassing to people who were arrested, disclose police intelligence, or reveal environmental conditions that may hurt commercial development on the West Side waterfront or be useful to terrorists.”
    I like the part about how the environmental conditions the people arrested faced might “hurt commercial development” on the West Side — yet Bloomberg had no compunction in placing innocent people exercising their First Amendment rights (and some just going down to their neighborhood deli to grab a sandwich) into that toxic waste…
    PLEASE NOTE AGAIN THAT THESE ARTICLES ARE FROM THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA:
    (ENTIRE ARTICLES AT ALL LINKS )
    New York Police Spied Broadly Before GOP Convention (WITH BLOOMBERG’S SUPPORT!!!)
    By Jim Dwyer
    The New York Times
    Sunday 25 March 2007
    For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.
    From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.
    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032507Z.shtml
    Arrests at GOP Convention Are Criticized
    Many in N.Y. Released Without Facing Charges
    By Michael Powell and Michelle Garcia
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Monday, September 20, 2004; Page A01
    NEW YORK — One late August evening, Alexander Pincus pedaled his bicycle to the Second Avenue Deli to buy matzo ball soup, a pastrami-on-rye and potato latkes for his sweetheart, who was sick with a cold.
    He would not return for 28 hours. As Pincus and a friend left the deli, they inadvertently walked into a police blockade and sweep of bicycle-riding protesters two days before the Republican National Convention began. “I asked an officer how I could get home,” Pincus recalled. “He said, ‘Follow me,’ and we went a few feet and cops grabbed us. They handcuffed us and made us kneel for an hour.”
    Police carted Pincus to a holding cell topped with razor wire and held him for 25 hours without access to a lawyer. The floor was a soup of oil and soot, he said, and the cell had so few portable toilets that some people relieved themselves in the corner. Pincus said a shoulder was dislocated as police pulled back his arms to handcuff him. “Cops kept saying to us, ‘This is what you get for protesting,’ ” said Pincus, whose account of his arrest is supported in part by deli workers and a time-stamped food receipt.
    Pincus was one of 1,821 people arrested in police sweeps before and during the Republican convention, the largest number of arrests associated with any American major-party convention.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A34245-2004Sep19?language=printer
    Published on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 by the New York Times
    City Fights Efforts to Release 2004 Convention Arrest Records
    by Jim Dwyer
    Faced with lawsuits from hundreds of people arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention, the Bloomberg administration is fighting to keep secret a vast array of records, testimony and videotapes collected that week.
    The city contends the materials could be embarrassing to people who were arrested, disclose police intelligence, or reveal environmental conditions that may hurt commercial development on the West Side waterfront or be useful to terrorists.
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1213-11.htm

    Reply

  43. Richard W. Behan says:

    Steve–
    Your take on this issue is spot-on. We need a non-violent revolution in public policy across the board, a REPUDIATION of what Bush AND the Democrats have given us. Otherwise we may well provoke a revolution that is NOT non-violent.
    Excellent thinking. As it stands I’d vote a Bloomberg/Hagel ticket in a New York minute. (Couldn’t resist that.)

    Reply

  44. DreadPirate says:

    Quote:
    “I don’t want more bipartisanship for its own sake. I want dissident Republicans and dissident Democrats to make this government work in the way it is supposed to work — and to deliver on the policies that the public expects.”
    “‘SACTLY!” But then, I’m a pessimist; … and you soon may be, as well Steve.
    This race ‘ought to’ be about “real leadership”, then nominating a leader whose bold enough to articulate strong principles, brave enough to ‘take a stand’ on policy positions, charismatic enough to lead others towards real change (not via status quo) and yet fully-experienced enough to break through potential Parliamentary motions that gridlock Congress and our nation towards progress.
    All the candidates have failed to realize this high-voltage undercurrent in public opinion, in my view. Those that may have have been figuratively, ‘tasered’ by the system.

    Reply

  45. CarsonCity says:

    Go Bloomberg and Hagel!

    Reply

  46. Joe says:

    I heard Bill Cohen on the CNN sunday program yesterday. I was amazed to hear a former Republican Senator who held a significant foreign policy (Cabinet level!) post in the last Democratic administration validating a “it’s both parties’ fault” position about partisanship. More amazing was that no one has called him on it.

    Reply

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