Blumenauer invites George Will to Portland; calls for Bowtie Summit

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

This morning, I noted how conservative columnist George Will had called out Portland ("the P word") in Newsweek for its focus on reducing sprawl and automobile use - dismissively calling Portland a city "which liberals hope is a harbinger of America's future."

Well, Congressman Earl Blumenauer has a retort, via Twitter. First, this:

In Newsweek: it’s LaHood that gets it. George Will doesn’t. It’s about “choices” not behavior modification.

And then, four minutes later:

In Portland the P word is Progress. There’s one way to find out, Mr. Will, come to Portland and we’ll debate – what you write and what you see.

And, one minute later:

And bring your bowtie, your neckwear choice may be one area we may actually agree.

Maybe it's time to bring back Pacific University's Tom McCall Forum. Blumenauer vs. Will. I'd pay to see that showdown.

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    [Full disclosure: My firm built Earl Blumenauer's new website. I speak only for myself.]

  • Carla Axtman (unverified)

    Actually, I'd pay for that one, too.

  • Dean (unverified)

    Earl is a very witty, and intellegent guy. I'd really like to see a bow-tie match up.

    This is one of my favorites, where me makes mince meat of Stephen:

    Oregons 3rd

  • Piotr Orloff (unverified)

    Yes, but watching Will on TV gives one the sense that he would rather be "right" even if he isn't exactly on point. So I would take his wisdom with a grain of salt. Bring it on, George!

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    If we are to have George Will debating a Portland progressive, how about someone who is an actual progressive, and with a sharper tongue--Steve Novick.

  • Richard (unverified)

    I call BS. Congressman Earl Blumenauer is not going to debate anyone. Any more than Al Gore would.

    What's Blumenauer going to point to? The CoP, Metro and PDC tall tales?

    I know, he'll claim Portland reduced their CO2 emissions? Or that the Urban Renewal squandering of billions has been marvelous? Nope, all he has is the theoretical and fantasies he trumpets.

  • Dave H (unverified)

    I don't think George Will is going to admit he's wrong about anything. One of the best moments of the piece is when he speculates, "Does he think 0.01 percent of Americans will ever regularly bike to work?" According to a 2007 article it's about .4 percent already.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    "Richard" calls BS on Earl without providing a single fact. Meanwhile, George Will's few facts are easily debunked (by a factor of 40 in one case) by anyone who can use Google, but "Richard" doesn't call BS on George.

    But I hope people take George seriously enough to not visit our little socialist cesspool. We could do with a breather after the migration influx we've been experiencing. Plus it rains here, too.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    It's so fascinating to me how differently folks see things. I watched the Blumenauer/Colbert echange mentioned above, and I can't see how someone could say that Earl is funny or makes mince meat of Colbert at all, even in weird double-negative sarcasm mode. But I can't stand the guy, I think he's arrogant, far too centrist, and disagree with him much of the time. I suspect that Dean is of a different opinion on the guy.

    I wonder what folks who don't feel strongly about Earl would rate his performance on the Colbert show? Do you think he was funny? Did he make mince meat of Colbert?

  • dddave (unverified)

    Earl, Hopefully you can feel a kinship with the rest of us when you lose your job soon. Then maybe, just maybe, could we have representative that actually has held a real job for once? Has Earl ever done anything but go after revenue like a crack whore or meth head, regardless of our economic condition or anything else? So energy is going up, cars are going up, I cant sell my house, no freaking jobs anywhere, but hey, the Obama man is still doing great!!! At least we will be doing the "green" thing while we are sitting in the dark, enjoying our new 1930's lifestyles.

  • Matt Pettini (unverified)

    Hear, hear! Let BO develop a series a questions, and have Mark Russell do ditties between issues.

    Bow tie, indeed!

    "Never trust a man with a bow tie. Think about it." - Mark Russell

  • No thanks (unverified)

    Two useless bores talking to each other, each an embarrassment to their respective parties. I'll pass, but I hope the critics have a field day ripping these two utter losers new ones.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    If George Will is considered conservative, then the P word should be combined with the S word because Portland has an over the top Socialist agenda that endeavors to control the lifestyles, transportation and housing choices of the people. Will’s comments which illustrate an accurate definition of social engineering by politicians like Congressman Blumenauer, Portland Mayor Adams and Oregon Governor K are right on target. Portland was mentioned because it is on the forefront of the dictatorial socialist movement in government and undoubtedly has one of the most progressively socialist engineered agendas in the country. It is refreshing to read such a well written article by such a renowned journalist who can actually see past the artificially generated smokescreen the politically motivated social engineers are creating. If only those who call themselves progressives could see through their own collective hogwash and how socialistic they really are. Just maybe Will’s commentary is the start of a public outcry and uprising that will take back “our” government of the people, by the people and for the people from controlling socialistic politicians that are currently taking away the basic freedoms this country, this state and the City of Portland were founded upon. A debate between an ambitious socialist and a conservative minuteman ought to be very interesting.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)

    Terry . . . what you fail to understand about Portland is that we DO understand who we are (largely a coalition of newly minted progressives, old line liberals, some socialists, some libertarian anarchists) and we are interested in moving to the left.

    We are not about to come to our senses in a Perry Mason moment and say, "OMG, what were we thinking when we first built that bus mall???"

    If that is an uncomfortable thought, and you are stuck here where you would rather not be, then get used to life as the minority for long, long time.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)

    . . . and Will, of course, forfeited the title of journalist when he secretly whored for Reagan back in the day. Now he's a flat earther who doesn't even take the science seriously.

    Blumenauer on the other hand has been a rather constant disappointment, a kind of dull toothache that rides a bicycle. Portland should be able to do so much better - we should be able to have a Bernie Sanders type, not someone who can't bring himself to give a straight answer on single payer beyond it's "politically unrealistic."

    Democrats here are pathetically grateful for so little. Look what we expected just seven months ago in the election. And today, even the photographs of the torture are sequestered. No one from the Bush administration (and maybe some Democrats as well, Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harmon, et al.) has been made to answer for their crimes against humanity and the Constitution, which means it will certainly happen again. Obama is continuing the military tribunals and ramping up troops for new killing in Afghanistan. Card check looks like it's going down. Single payer can't even get invited to a meeting.

    Anyone want to take bets that the new Supreme Court nominee will look less like William O. Douglas and more like Stephen Breyer in drag?

    Shameful. That we would settle for so little.

  • Rachel (unverified)

    ddddddddddddave- re your comment about Earl going "after revenue like a crack whore and meth head" -- what is that? Revenue? Do you mean taxes? Do you mean support for schools and education? Health care? I don't know where you are from but it's not Oregon.

    Joe is right on.

    We are progressive here.

    We are not Socialists, but maybe we are social-ists who like a community that is welcoming, encouraging, entrepreneurial, diverse of all opinion and is different from the failed cookie cutter, greedly landdeveloper, farmland paving, money grubbing, polluting who-ever-they-are (place your snid angry label here...).

    For all you folks who don't like it here, move. There are lots of communities throughout this country that are struggling more than we are. I am sure they could use your infusion of energy, talent and new ideas.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    Wow--Terry Parker is nuts!

    But while we're talking about my favorite bow-tie wearing hypocrite (and I don't mean Will) I just found out that he voted for an addition 94 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So much for his pledge to not do so. But now it's Obama's war, and the Democratic opposition to this catastrophe has withered to just a handful of votes, so Earl can get away with shit like this, and "progressives" at Blue Oregon and elsewhere won't raise a peep. (Seriously, has there been any criticism of the now Democratically-controlled and expanded wars around here?)

    I think it's long past time to change the description of this site from "a place for progressive Oregonians.." to "a place for Democratic Party faithful who may or may not be (but most likely aren't) progressive..."

  • Joe Hill (unverified)

    Nixon famously claimed, "When the president does it, it's not illegal."

    On Blue Oregon, the analogous claim is: When Barack Obama does it, it's not war / unconstitutional / corporate.

  • rw (unverified)

    For all that Joe makes everyone's tongue cleave and hooves itch to kick, listen to what he is saying, folks. If Bush were doing the exact same things Obama is doing we'd be flinging holy water and marching in the streets some more. And righteously enraged.

    I was watching an OPB special on the Kennedy family, and the part about MLK's assassination, and then Bobby in the aftermath... then his murder. I tasted the ashes, and I felt in my own leaden sorrows the confidence of a moment of understanding that of our black communities. And so it is that I do cherish this Obama.

    And long for him to be accountable. Real in the way maybe Bobby was and Jack was not.

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    I sure as hell wouldn't pay to see George Will speak. I might pay not to see him if, for some reason, I was being held hostage ("America does not negotiate with George Will!") but I'd almost rather slit my wrists than be forced to listen to him for any length of time. I don't even really think I'd want to pay to hear Blumenauer. He's my representative, I'm already paying for him.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    For a progressive critique of Obama's actions last week, check out: Right-wing rampage by Obama administration

    And can anyone recommend good progressive or left Portland or Oregon blogs? Portland Indymedia was once worth checking out, but no longer. Willamette Reds is decent, but not much news there.

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    Looks like the link didn't work:

    "Right-wing rampage by Obama administration" can be found at:

    I'd love to here how folks around here respond.

  • LT (unverified)

    Chris #12:

    OK, I read it, and the author thinks Obama is too much of a centrist or worse.

    This seems to me to be evidence that many people saw reflected in Obama what they wanted to happen.

    This is one very cautious guy who gets the facts first, chooses his battles, chooses when to act and what to do. If he isn't pleasing some group this week, that is not my problem.

    I never expected to agree with everything Obama did every day. I like the saying that he inherited the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

    Recent weeks have proved what I have always thought--that I'm more of an independent moderate than at one end of the ideological spectrum. A crafty Chicago politician who can write his own books and who defeated the Clinton machine to get the nomination is probably closer to that political persuasion than anyone out in either left field or right field is likely to admit.

  • LT (unverified)

    Joe Hill,

    "we should be able to have a Bernie Sanders type"

    So, you think Steve Novick could take out Earl in a primary? Or do you have someone else in mind?

    Folks, members of Congress get elected when more people vote for them than for the opponent. If you think the candidate is the greatest thing sinced sliced bread, or if you don't like the candidate, it is not just up to you. The election is won by those who get the most votes in an election, not decided on blogs.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    The best comment (over at the Great Orange Satan) on Obama's style I've come across: Obama is clearly a deft politician, which, coupled with real political courage, might make him a truly great President.

    I am still waiting to see the political courage part. by andrewj54 on Sat May 16, 2009 at 07:42:42 PM PDT

    As for G. Will, pelt him with shoes.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)

    LT, you're quite right. I'm a huge Steve Novick booster and expect great things, but I don't think that Steve Novick at this moment could win in a primary battle against Earl Blumenauer, and I don't have anyone else in mind who could. You got me. As James Farley, FDR's political guy said, "You can't beat somebody with nobody."

    But that was the point of my post, I thought. Blumenauer is very popular, and his seat is as safe as anyone in the House, and for much of his district (in my opinion) he is a genuine disappointment. The point is that in the leftmost district of one of the leftmost cities in the nation, he can get away with some pretty disappointing positions on important issues.

    It seems to me that this criticism ultimately falls on us. We are the ones who have settled for leaders who don't really represent us. At the very least, every time Blumenauer shows his face he ought to have protesters demanding that he come out for single payer. Wyden too - he was disgraceful in this last episode. If these are the leaders we have, the community ought to be strong enough to move them to the left.

  • Dean (unverified)

    Looks like my video link "Oregons 3rd" was edited out from my above posts? So I am reposting the link for folks. Watch this, you'll see the brilliance that is the Earl.

    BTW: Why does the Earl always looked tired w/dark circles under his eyes? I guess he's just working hard for Oregons 3rd!

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    I nearly ran Earl down when he was jay-walking a couple weeks ago--he seemed literally not to even see my car. Talk about alternative transportation focused!

  • Central Station (unverified)

    Let's recall that a certain non-representative of San Francisco is even further to the right than Earl (Is Nancy Pelosi a Liar, a Coward, or Just Plain Old, Garden Variety, Stupid?,, so the DP in general is, at best, "a kind of dull toothache that [sometimes] rides a bicycle". (Bulletin: Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat.)

    Re: "At the very least, every time Blumenauer shows his face he ought to have protesters demanding that he come out for single payer":

    Event: DIE-IN RALLY FOR SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE!! "Stop the Pay or Die System." What: Rally Host: Single Payer Action ( Start Time: Wednesday, May 27 at 12:00pm End Time: Wednesday, May 27 at 2:00pm Where: Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Office

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Notice of protest at Blumenauer's Portland office:

    Weds., 5/27 at noon

    22 min. "Die-off", in tribute to the 22,000 U.S. citizens who die every year from lack of health coverage and in protest of Rep. Blumenauer's cavalier dismissal of the single-payer concept.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Blumenauer should have invited Will for a blue-jeans summit.

    By the way, editor, I notice that "Joe Hill" and "nfl jerseys" posted IDENTICAL comments.

    As for the news that Barack Obama is neither a flaming socialist demagogue nor an absolute monarch unconstrained by Congress, I am shocked, shocked. Now I finally understand why the Stars and Stripes at the White House has not been replaced by one of those red-and-black items bearing Che Guevara's face.

  • Dean (unverified)

    The Earl has been too busy to work on the Single Payer health-care legislation. He is too busy with the "Captive Primate Safety Act". Which I guess is a big problem in Oregon?!

    "That's why I introduced the Captive Primate Safety Act to amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981. This bill would add primates to the list of animals that cannot be transported across state lines. "

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    Joel-- Do you really think folks expected a flaming socialist? I'll admit that some peace activists expected too much from the guy (remember those Obama peace sign bumper stickers--what a joke!). But I had very low expectations, and I'm surprised at how much he has backtracked on many issues (trade, transparency, trials) and I'm just disgusted on the stuff I expected: corporate bailouts, crappy health care reform, expanding the wars, and unwillingness to push EFCA.

    Prove me wrong, show me where the promised change is manifesting.

    And LT: "This is one very cautious guy who gets the facts first, chooses his battles, chooses when to act and what to do. If he isn't pleasing some group this week, that is not my problem."

    After Obama backtracked on releasing the new detainee torture photos, the mainstream media praised him for being thoughtful and deliberative. Am I supposed to be excited that we have a president who thinks? Maybe after the last guy, that's an improvement, but how much lower can the bar go? Jeeez...

    As far as not pleasing some group this week, what groups has he pleased, besides the pentagon, wall street, and the health insurance industry? How has he pleased you?

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    Re: "Rep. Blumenauer's cavalier dismissal of the single-payer concept."

    Not to get too off topic, but to correct the facts, Earl has not dismissed the single payer concept. He has said that he doesn't think it has the votes to pass this Congress (which anyone who pays any attention to the realities of politics should get even if you don't accept it). That doesn't mean that it should be "off the table"

    On a statewide conference call last weekend, he said that single payer should be discussed along with the other reforms being talked about.

    Finally, he has said that what he is supporting and what he thinks can pass is a public health insurance plan (like Medicare) that will give people a choice of keeping what they have or going into the public health insurance plan.

    Clearly, some people will think differently and we respect that, but let's at least be fair, honest, and respectful in this debate (of course you can always choose to do what you want).

    Willie Smith w/ Rep. Blumenauer's office

  • Chris #12 (unverified)

    This just arrived in my inbox:

    Check out the spot-on message that Portland trade activists delivered to Congressman Earl Blumenauer about the Panama Free Trade Agreement:

  • Patrick Story (unverified)

    Is it even possible for Will to be moved out of the Washington Beltway bubble? His senility is showing in the oh-so-many gaffs for which his columns are notorious.

    Remember when, a while back, he published the statement that the pop. of the US was 230 million? At the time it was hitting 300 million, but there's no need for him to keep up with history, hire a fact-checker, or even acknowledge his errors. The corporate big shots he is shilling for will probably keep him on the payroll as long as there are newspapers . . . but wait, maybe that's not much longer.

  • Assegai Up Jacksey (unverified)

    This makes a great distractor for the fact that BHO is being called out by the likes of Amnesty International for being all talk, no do. (

    Actually, that's unfair. He's done plenty. He's taken many active decisions to continue the behavior of the Bush administration. No doubt, party loyals bleat "wait". Tell that to the persons being renditioned this very day.

    BTW, I guess none of the Demicans have noticed that the Brits are in the process of throwing ALL the bums out. Do stay the course, though. We want to know exactly who those die-hard party loyalists are when it comes time to retire all the pros.

    Patrick, the "error" on population isn't. Or BO posters make it all the time, too. A classic example of the one party system. Like the WOD, both agree that ANY discussion of US population control is beyond the Pale. And they wonder why the only thing that gets through is "STOP BREEDING"! Now, lets's write a stump speech and see how many times we can say family.

    Pith on Obama's style? Just what doesn't "SUCKER!" cover? Don't get it? Look in the mirror. Kucinich, Dean, were too impractical, could never get anything actually done in Washington? Let's hear the party faithful- and I know you want to- defend that now! Tell us they would have less done. There's something rotten smelling in Washington. Of course, I'm talking to/about BO. So apt. Your social values stink to high heaven, but then, you'll get yours INSIDE four. Surprise.

  • God's Own Party (unverified)

    Ass Guy, I don't know if you're running in the Zarathustra successor stakes, but I hate to tell you that rw has quite a few lengths on you! The oddest things inspire people to raise their game! Find one.

    @Willie- please be consistent. That's not dismissing single-payer? Kari laid out that very position and was cut a new one for being a hack. Which is it? Are they both really for it, but being practical, or is that selling out jadedly?

    Deny this. The current position on health care from a majority of Democrats is, "We want single-payer but we don't have the votes". And those would be Democrats' votes? So, who is the "we", and how is it that you think your party represents you?

    It is stuff like that that leads most to conclude that Parties are crutches and serve no useful purpose. And all of us that have wondered why the feckless Pelosi has been coddled for these years can now see the answer. She was testing the waters for the now omnipresent response, "We would really like to do that, but I don't think I can get it passed. Let's keep our powder dry". You get a nicotine addicted environmental terrorist to be your legislative leader and that makes the Prez look pretty good. Throw in a real-politik hack from Las Vegas. Yeah, Harry Reid became Senate majority leader because Las Vegas has been such a showcase community for liberal and progressive values.

    You criticize the right for their faith. We have soul at least. Your party has become the equivalent of those gas ripend, cardboard tasting tomatoes at the grocery. It sure LOOKS like a tomato. Just don't expect anything tomatoey from it.

  • Central Station (unverified)

    Re: "...what groups has he pleased, besides the pentagon, wall street, and the health insurance industry?"

    Recent Obama decisions are so reactionary that they have evoked praise from the Reich, including congressional Republicans and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, who hailed the reversals on release of the torture photos and use of military commissions as a vindication of the policies of the Bush administration. Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican spokesman on detainee policy, declared, “I agree with the president and our military commanders that now is the time to start over and strengthen our detention policies. I applaud the president’s actions today.” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the decision an “encouraging development.”

    Furthermore, Obama's “climate change” program was applauded by the Edison Electric Institute, the chief lobbying group for utility polluters.


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