Friday, December 17, 2010

Only They Know The Way

December 13 saw the launch in New York City of "No Labels," whose leaders, according to The Washington Post, describe it as

a home for Americans turned off by a deepening divide between Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals....

The group hopes to build a network of citizen activists and establish offices in all 435 congressional districts. Beginning in January, members plan to police the new Congress, calling out lawmakers they think are too partisan and speaking up for those who cross party lines to find solutions. The group says it will not advocate specific policy positions, but will aim to foster a more civil discourse in Washington.

Presumably, that civil discourse would exclude doctrinaire citizens, whose toxic commitment to principle pollutes all that is right and virtuous. Will Bunch comments

I don't have a problem with people declaring themselves centrists and fighting for middle-of-the-road policies with all their heart and soul, but what truly drives me crazy is their holier-than-thou notion that centrism is, by definition, better than people with ideologies (which is just a high fallutin' word for people's ideas) on the so-called right or so-called left. In fact, the whole right-left spectrum is just something we crazy humans made up to simplify complicated notions of limited government or social justice or personal freedom. Declaring what you think is the middle of two ideas doesn't make you more virtuous, and often it makes you maddenly inconsistent or incoherent. See "Obama, Barack."

Unfortunately, that is the Barack Obama and the GOP the mainstream media love and which came together this week to pass a tax cut bill that will baloon the deficit and exacerbate the gap between the wealthy and the middle class. With its fetish for bipartisanship, the media generally will ignore the fundamental question about No Labels: Where is it getting its money? There is at least one exception, with the liberal asking

No Labels spokesman Adam Segal if the nonprofit group, which has reportedly raised at least $1 million so far, would reveal the sources of its funding now or in the future. Segal declined to comment on the record. That $1 million has already paid for the big conference at Columbia today, a flashy website, a new logo, and a P.R. guy. The Wall Street Journal did report the names of three wealthy donors last month (more on this below), but it's unknown how much they gave and who else is involved.

No Labels is organized as a 501(c)(4), which means that it is not legally required to release the identities of donors. You may remember that designation from the midterm elections, when similarly organized groups spent millions of anonymously donated dollars on campaign ads. There is no sign that No Labels is going to be running ads (though there is talk by one of the group's leaders about creating a separate PAC to get involved in financially supporting candidates.)

No Labels believes itself a little more righteous and well, a little better than the rest of us. You will not be surprised that the self-satisfied group appropriately includes Michael Bloomberg, here nailed as "a man whose reasonableness is self-evident, because he spends a lot of time telling people that he dislikes both liberals and conservatives. (And bloggers, and journalists, and union leaders, and bureaucrats, etc., etc." It includes also a Dallas-based political consultant, who set the mood of inclusiveness and tolerance at the gathering in New York:

The country is not governable right not. It's a bunch of little brats and children who throw tantrums if they don't get everything they want.

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