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Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party
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Find out how Democrats lost their backbone - and how they can find it in 2008.

See Glenn's upcoming Tour Dates and Media Appearances; read the excerpt published by The Nation or the excerpt published by The Politico. Read a review here.

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News Alert

The Nation: Bailout vs. Bull Market

- September 27, 2008 6:50 PM

By Glenn Hurowitz

"There's always a bull market somewhere," goes the old Wall Street saw, and it's a principle that Washington needs to keep firmly in mind as it contemplates its trillion dollar financial bailout. Today, that bull market is in green investing, which includes everything from wind and solar power to forest conservation.

Since 2001, the wind industry has grown 339 percent; the solar industry has grown a whopping 579 percent, and both are projected to continue their blockbuster double digit annual growth into the forseeable future. In contrast, the Dow Jones average has climbed just 2 percent during the same period, and is only barely hanging on at those levels because of the artificial boost produced by talk of the bailout.

Instead of shoveling good money after bad, Congress should put its money into developing this booming green economy even further.

Truly green companies aren't just providing returns to investors. They're also an employment engine that is offsetting the job losses related to the high price of oil and the housing collapse. Tens of thousands of people are today employed making wind turbines, installing solar panels, and making American cars more efficient. But those jobs could be only a very small beginning compared to what is possible.

A recent report by the Center for American Progress estimates that investing just $100 billion in the green economy (or one seventh the amount contemplated in the administration's proposed Wall Street bailout) would create 2 million new jobs, with a significant percentage of those coming in the struggling manufacturing and construction sectors. In contrast, investing that much money in the financial services sector would generate just 1.1 million jobs, according to an analysis conducted by the study's authors, Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the University of Massachusetts. In other words, Wall Street's offering about half the jobs for the same money: hardly a smart bet for the taxpayer.

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The Phoenix: Is Barack Obama Too Scared to Win?

- August 17, 2008 2:04 PM


Illustration: Dale Stephanos

By Jeff Inglis

....The people who back Obama may be energetic young progressives, but they are not unlike the vast majority of Americans when it comes to what they look for in a candidate. Glenn Hurowitz, a longtime progressive activist, explains in his book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party that a major factor determining any voter's choice is whether the candidate fights well (a characteristic described in polling data as being a "strong leader").

That trait, Hurowitz argues, trumps most other concerns -- even differences of opinion on major policy questions (though not party affiliation). His book, based on a new analysis of 40 years of election and polling data, suggests that the reason the far-right conservative movement has risen to control the American political system is not due to any particular intelligence or ability on the part of right-wing activists, who espouse positions vastly divergent from most Americans' values. The rise of the right has happened because Democrats and progressives refuse to stand and fight for what they believe in...

Hurowitz's research shows that when progressives and Democrats take and hold principled stands on issues, they gain respect from voters (even those who disagree with the particular position) and emerge as popular leaders, even if their stand fails. So if Obama had objected, fought, and voted against the bill, people's opinion of his leadership abilities would have increased, whether or not the bill ultimately became law.

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Los Angeles Times: How the pope is saving Earth

- July 21, 2008 5:39 PM

By Glenn Hurowitz

Pope Benedict XVI, like many world leaders, has spoken passionately about the urgent need to protect the planet from climate catastrophe. But unlike his fellow heads of state, the pontiff has actually created a carbon-neutral economy -- and done it cheaply and quickly.

The Vatican announced last year that it would restore 37 acres of forest in Hungary that had been cut down in the Middle Ages. Those growing trees will absorb enough carbon dioxide to offset all the pollution from the fossil fuels used to power Vatican City.

The reason this "Vatican model" succeeded while other countries struggle to achieve even modest emissions reductions is because of the unique qualities of forest conservation and restoration. Compared with other methods of reducing climate-changing pollution, such as switching to wind, solar or geothermal power, it's fast and relatively cheap. That's true on a small, Vatican City scale as well as a massive American scale.

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Politico: Why is McCain Joining the Bush Party?

- June 27, 2008 10:53 AM

By Glenn Hurowitz

It's no secret that over the past several months, John McCain's Straight Talk Express has become the Zig Zag Local. After a career as a maverick, McCain suddenly decided to embrace the conservative establishment in hopes of building something like the money and grass-roots machine that powered President Bush to victory.

The weird thing about this newly obedient McCain, however, is that he's drawing close to the Bush establishment at the very moment when it and its policies are widely blamed for America's deepening malaise. At a time when the rest of the country is experiencing a Bush hangover, McCain is just popping the champagne. He's gone from being a maverick who defies the establishment to a kind of gonzo maverick who defies the people -- and that's a very dangerous thing for a presidential candidate.

When, for instance, President Bush pushed his tax cuts for the ultra-rich during the early years of his administration, McCain opposed them, even though the tax cuts enjoyed relatively strong public support. Now, when Bush and his economic policies have fallen into disrepute, McCain is campaigning to make them permanent.

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Los Angeles Times: Clean Hair or Clean Air

- May 23, 2008 10:49 AM

UPDATE: Featured on NPR's Bryant Park Project. Check out www.theproblemwithpalmoil.org for more information.

By Glenn Hurowitz

While showering a few weeks ago, I realized I had run out of conditioner. So I reached up and grabbed my wife's bottle -- Clairol Herbal Essences Rainforest Flowers, "with essences of nourishing palm."

The label caught me slightly by surprise. As an environmental journalist, I've been writing about the ecologically destructive effect of palm oil for some time now.

Whether it's used as an additive in soap, cosmetics or food, or processed into a biofuel, palm oil is one of the worst culprits in the climate crisis. Most of it comes from the disappearing, ultra-carbon-rich rain forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, of which a whopping 25,000 square miles have been cleared and burned to make way for palm oil plantations.

That burning releases enough carbon dioxide into the air to rank Indonesia as the No. 3 such polluter in the world. It also destroys the last remaining habitat for orangutans, Sumatran rhinos, tigers and other endangered wildlife. So what was this deadly oil doing in our otherwise ecologically friendly apartment?

I started to inspect other items on our shelves. Despite our efforts to keep our family green, we'd admitted into our home several products containing palm oil: Burt's Bees soap, chocolate truffles from Trader Joe's, Kashi breakfast bars, Whole Foods water crackers and many others.

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Read more articles by Glenn Hurowitz.

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Democratic Courage President Glenn Hurowitz's new book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party is available today from Amazon. Read Glenn's latest blog entries, most originally published at The Huffington Post and Grist:

How to Kill a Green Job

- February 5, 2009 12:29 AM

While the Senate is debating whether or not to give people cash in exchange for buying a Hummer, the State of Virginia could be poised to take significant action to bolster the economy and help the climate by passing an energy efficiency bill introduced by State Senator Donald McEachin.

Here's the catch. Doing smart, easy things like energy efficiency that create jobs and prosperity isn't so easy in Virginia, where Dominion Power runs the statehouse. Dominion Power operates several coal-fired power plants in the state and uses the proceeds to hand out campaign donations almost as fast as it hands out asthma attacks.

The biggest single recipient of Dominion's largesse? State Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw of Springfield (in the DC suburbs), who received a whopping $85,000 in campaign contributions between 2004 and 2009, more than any other legislator. So what's that money getting Dominion? Seemingly, a whole lot...

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Jaguars for Change

- November 13, 2008 11:38 AM

Barack Obama's victory is good news for reversing one of the great environmental and humanitarian crimes of the Bush era: the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The wall, about 280 miles long, is a disaster for the wildlife, landscape, people, and economy of the American southwest. It prevents highly endangered species like jaguars (U.S. population unknown), ocelots (U.S. pop. ~ 80), and Sonoran pronghorn antelope (U.S. pop. ~100) from reaching the breeding populations south of the border they need to survive - threatening the endurance of these great symbols of the Southwest. It also breaks up families that have straddled the border for centuries and threatens the economy of the border region, many parts of which are heavily dependent on birders, naturalists, and other tourists who come to admire the unique fauna.

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Mondale's Revenge

- November 4, 2008 10:13 PM

For a generation, Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign was cited as an example of how not to run for the White House as a Democrat: not only did Mondale run on a liberal platform, he even went so far as to promise to raise Americans' taxes, a promise that was widely blamed for his defeat.

But Barack Obama's victory shows that after eight years of Republican failure, the rules have changed.

For all of Obama's rhetorical efforts to portray himself as a tax-cutting, business-friendly moderate whose highest aspiration was to "bring people together," he ran on a very progressive agenda, was characterized as a closet socialist "Redistributionist-in-Chief" by McCain and Palin, and above all represented a radically different approach from the conservative ideology that has mostly defined the national agenda since 1981.

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Daschle for Chief of Staff?

- October 25, 2008 6:25 PM

In an article in today's New York Times by Jackie Calmes and Peter Baker, unnamed Obama advisers float a Tom Daschle trial balloon for Chief of Staff in an Obama administration; he's already been widely mentioned for other senior policy positions.

Appointing Daschle, who's pulls in around a million dollars a year as a "Special Policy Advisor" (not a lobbyist) for the law firm Alston and Bird, would be a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of Obama's pledge that lobbyists "will not run my White House" or his administration, one of the hallmarks of his platform and one of the main way he differentiates himself from John McCain's lobbyist-riddled campaign.

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The Yalie Who Could Save Us Billions

- September 21, 2008 11:31 PM

As if the Wall Street bailout couldn't get more obscene, Wall Street executives are now lobbying for huge fees from the government to manage some of the assets they're selling to the government; in other words, the taxpayer will take the risk, but Wall Street will get the fees.

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Read more blog entries by Glenn Hurowitz.

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Profile in Courage
Paul Wellstone

Before his election-eve death in a plane crash in 2002, Paul Wellstone was by far the most courageous voice in the U.S. Senate, leading fights for the environment, workers, and progressive values when no one else would. Wellstone didn't just win elections--he built a movement that outlives him. Learn how to practice politics the Wellstone way at Wellstone Action.

Reading

Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus

BookAuthor Rick Perlstein's book should sit on the shelf of every aspiring progressive activist working to take over the Democratic Party. The book shows how a small, committed band of extreme right-wingers were able to take over a weak, divided Republican Party by articulating their values and working hard to mobilize people behind their candidate. When they were done, these right-wingers controlled the Republican Party and had transformed it from permanent minority status into the juggernaut that elected Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush. To purchase the book, click here.

Candidate of Courage

After a difficult 2007, Nancy Pelosi has once again found her groove and her backbone. I was really blown away by her show of support for the Dalai Lama - given all of China's economic power, it would have been easy to avoid the meeting or just say something tepid.

But that's just the beginning. She also refused to give President Bush the power to wiretap Americans without a warrant and passed an energy bill that will significantly reduce oil usage and global warming pollution, standing up to several powerful Democrats still toadying up to the auto industry. She's found her courage and she's using it to get results.


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Weekly Weasel

Luis Lula Da Silva

Luis Lula Da Silva
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Known universally as Lula, the President of Brazil was elected in 2002 on a pro-worker, pro-environment platform. He even imposed a ban on logging in the Amazon rainforest. But then right-wing loggers and ranchers threatened to poison the Amazon's rivers with pesticides if they weren't allowed to continue destroying the rainforest. Instead of sending the Army in to arrest the right-wing thugs, Lula started acting like a spineless Democrat and gave in allowing the destruction to resume.

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