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Compromise may be a precious commodity, but not always attainable when parties have diametrically opposed views. Senate."

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There is some hope, at least on certain issues.

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Some blame legislative districts that are gerrymandered to be "safe" for one party or the other, making centrist moderation unnecessary to win elections and so putting more staunch partisans into office; even a new redistricting system might not make much difference in a state so Balkanized, with politically like minded people clustered geographically. And with both major parties' leaders willing to punish those who stray from the party line, there's not much incentive to compromise.

"without having to worry about the pitchforks and torches," he said."For CODEPINK, it's about the issues, not the party. We usually side Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean White

political temperature a bit" after decades of escalating rhetoric. "Even if the bills aren't going to end up being bipartisan, having an atmosphere that's a little more respectful is going to be useful."

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Long a good government buzzword, the term now seems more popular than ever; nearly everyone from President Barack Obama down to the lowliest freshman state lawmaker in Sacramento extols bipartisanship's virtues.

In Sacramento, despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "post partisan" rhetoric, the incentives seem nonexistent.

Hodson predicts that "as Obama continues to try to reach out his hand for bipartisanship and the Republicans slap it down," the GOP will suffer public reprobation for refusing to engage: "I think there is a sense of 'We're fed up with it, we've had it for too long.'"

Ultimately, he said, "the party in the minority has to understand our system respects their right to be heard," but voters have put them in the minority and they don't have "the moral, democratic right to stop the will of the majority on every single thing."

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Rojansky's group aims to create "safe space on specific foreign policy issues" for more such bipartisan ventures. It's also launching a fellowship program to teach conflict resolution and negotiation skills to junior House and Senate staff members, for use not only at international summits but on Capitol Hill as well.

"There are local things that can exacerbate it, like the two thirds vote, but we're a reflection of a national phenomenon," said Timothy Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State. A state Senate staffer for 15 years, he said bipartisanship used to be "a willingness to settle for half a loaf," but that's not the case today.

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In another example, Republicans blasted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus as a failure of bipartisanship: All House Republicans present for the Jan. 28 vote opposed it, joined by three Democrats. Yet that bill had undergone a marathon Appropriations Committee markup at which many Republican amendments were heard, if only a few were accepted a bipartisan process if not a bipartisan vote, and little surprise given the two parties' vastly different views of how to deal with the recession. In the Senate, three Republicans ultimately voted for the bill after exacting cuts. President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders might have preferred more GOP support, but after accepting GOP input and putting an alternate GOP plan to a vote, should they have scuttled their bill in the name of bipartisanship if Republicans wouldn't vote for it?

Here in California one of only three states requiring two thirds votes of the Legislature to pass budget and tax bills the Republican minority makes no bones about using its power to stymie such bills to exact concessions, sometimes related to those bills and sometimes not, from the Democratic majority. Is that bipartisanship?

"I really don't understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane," liberal blogger John Cole wrote in February, though such a sentiment could've come from either side of the political spectrum. "Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years."

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Is a bill bipartisan if eight Republican senators join 54 Democrats in supporting it and three Democrats join 32 Republicans in voting against it, as happened March 10 with the cloture vote for the $410 billion omnibus spending bill? If not, what threshold would make it bipartisan 10 GOP votes? 15?

´╗┐conservatives agree

with Democrats in the Progressive Caucus, especially on social programs, Omega Watch Orange Strap civil liberties and the war. But CODEPINK has sympathized with right wing Republicans who refused to bail out Wall Street, debating with our friends in the Progressive Caucus who voted for the bailout because they were pressured by Obama." CODEPINK and Global Exchange co founder Medea Benjamin

"You can have partisanship without it being quite as personally nasty and really villainizing the other side," he said. "The only way to get a lot of Republican votes would be to completely wipe out the direction of the policies, and he (Obama) is not going to do that."

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This seems to be Obama's stance, he said, seeking at least to "lower the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m 42 And 45mm Lmpo

"There's a difference between extortion and engagement. If you sit down as the Republicans did in November and say, 'We won't even come to the table unless you agree to X, Y and Z' . that's extortion," he said, adding true bipartisanship also "requires a majority to say, 'We're willing to sit down and work with you and we're not going to stack committees .

"In the early 20th century, the Republican and Democratic leaders would disagree with one another forcefully on the floor but afterward they might go have drinks with one another . whereas now, there's no chance Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner would have any social contact with one another if they could avoid it," Schickler said; "a baseline level of trust" has been lost.

In California, watch nascent efforts to recall Republican lawmakers who voted for the budget compromise and its tax hikes, he advised. If they fizzle out, lawmakers will see they can work across the aisle Omega Speedmaster Automatic Panda

So what is it, really? Webster's New World Dictionary defines bipartisan as "of, representing or supported by two parties," but that doesn't address the question of threshold.

Some say even a pretense of bipartisanship is a waste of time and effort.

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If words grew tired, "bipartisanship" would be exhausted by now.

"This is not a one administration or a two term challenge, . this is a fundamental, sea change challenge," Rojansky said. But with voters' frustration steadily rising, "there really is a strong incentive to show concrete progress in reaching out to folks on the other side of the aisle, saying 'I am the Dick Lugar of my generation' or 'I am the Sam Nunn of my generation.'"

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