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Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party

How to Kill a Green Job

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

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

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?

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

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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What Lieberman Gets That Dems Don't

You've got to hand it to Joe Lieberman. He has totally absorbed the "How to Be a Republican" training. For one thing, he seems to have learned a core GOP insight of which most Democrats remain ignorant: that for the overwhelming majority of voters, a candidate's character is far more important than their issue stances. And so, he best articulated what will be John McCain's argument heading into the fall.

You may not agree with John McCain on every issue. But you can always count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right regardless of politics.

This was also Bush's core argument in 2004:

"Whether you agree with me or not, you know where I stand, what I believe, and where I am going to lead."

After the 2004 election, Bush Communications Director (and current McCain spokesflack) Nicolle Devenish Wallace cited that single line as "the most important words we uttered in the campaign" in a forum held by the Annenberg School.

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Palin's Cruel Streak: Aerial Hunting of Wolves

Of course, Sarah Palin's no animal lover. She's put extraordinary effort into undoing federal wildlife protections for polar bears, beluga whales, and pretty much any other animal that gets in the way of the oil industry's plans.

But her wolf bounty really takes the cake for animal cruelty. One of Palin's first acts in office was to put a $150 bounty on the heads of her state's wolves, allegedly with the goal of increasing the moose and caribou population. But this was no ordinary hunt: it was meant to incentivize the aerial killing of wolves, in which private hunters take a small plane and chase down wolf packs until they're exhausted and can't move any more, when they either shoot them from the air or land and execute them at point blank range.

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Confident, At Last

I came into tonight knowing Barack Obama could win - but worried he wouldn't.
After all, he'd spent the whole summer talking hopes and dreams - and giving in on ours - while John McCain knocked him around like an Olympic boxer.
But tonight, he found a bit of spine, found his sense of humor, found his passion, and found who he is again.
And we found our next president.
Because when Barack Obama comes out swinging, he wins.

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Hillary's Adjectives

Tonight, we heard how great Hillary was, how much she's struggled for women, we heard how important health care is and how important breaking barriers is. But we didn't hear anything about what kind of person Barack Obama is and what kind of president (or Commander in Chief) he will be.

Instead, we heard Hillary say more positive things about McCain's character ("served our country with honor and courage") and Joe Biden ("a strong leader, a good man, pragmatic, tough, wise") than we did about Obama, who got no adjectives or character descriptions at all, just a litany of good policies he would implement.

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The Veep Hopeful Who Raised Energy Costs

Virginia governor Tim Kaine had a tough task at his town hall meeting in Manassas in the Washington, DC exurbs this weekend, where he was, in part, trying to prove to Obama that he could be an effective vice presidential candidate. Not only had he just said he favored so-called "right to work" (hat tip Matt Stoller) laws that make it nearly impossible for workers to exercise their rights to form a union, he also recently gave into pressure from Dominion Power to hike electricity rates on Virginians to pay for the construction of a massive, new polluting coal fired power plant.

You can just see the GOP attack ads coming:

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The Men Who Made Me Love Hillary

I have the reputation of being something of a Hillary-hater. It's understandable: the PAC I founded, Democratic Courage, ran the first anti-Hillary ad of the primaries. But for all my very public opposition to Hillary's presidential candidacy, the vice presidential picks being floated by Obama are making Hillary - or a Hillary-like candidate - look increasingly attractive for the number two slot. Because for all of Hillary's faults, she has a toughness and a willingness to play offense sorely needed in a campaign in which the man at the top of the ticket has so far responded to attacks on his character, his patriotism, and his policies primarily by whining about the attacks themselves.

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It's Time for Obama to Get Tough

How is it that despite adulatory media coverage, long lines of volunteers at his campaign offices, and Americans deeply unhappy about the direction of the country, Barack Obama is rapidly losing support - and control of the agenda - to John McCain?

It's because Obama has reverted to the whiny, wimpy style that nearly allowed Hillary Clinton to wipe him out in September, 2007 - until he found his backbone and actually started to stand up for himself.

When McCain launches volley after volley of attack on Obama's policies (with photos of Paris and Brittany thrown in to get the media's attention), what's Obama's response? To ride in on his My Little Pony and cry because McCain is - how low! - criticizing his policies and questioning his capacity to lead in a mildly creative way

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Virginia is for Coal Lovers

Under heavy pressure from lobbyists for Dominion coal, Virginia announced yesterday that it's going to permit the construction of a new coal-fired power plant, even though doing so clearly violates the law.

Just days after NASA's James Hansen testified that avoiding climate catastrophe will require immediately stopping construction of new coal fired power plants around the world (and shutting down old ones), and just months after the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, Virginia decided that what the state and the world really need is another coal fired power plant with no controls on release of carbon dioxide -- and gave Dominion power the go ahead to build their "Hybrid Energy Center" in Wise County in Appalachia (hybrid because it will burn two different types of dirty coal).

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"I'm Not From Here But I Got HereJust as Soon as I Could"

As I reported last week, I'm in Appalachia, Virginia to attend a hearing by the Virginia Air Resources Board about whether or not Virginia will permit Dominion Power to build a dirty, coal-fired power plant. It's Eden in the Mountains here - miles and miles of green, forested mountains in every direction.

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In Obama's America, Path to Power No Longer Runs Through Law Firms

There's a massive silver lining to the Obama and McCain campaigns' escalating war to rid each other of staffers and advisors with ties to lobbyists and corporate America: suddenly, slaving away at a big law firm no longer seems like a path to power, but an express off-ramp.

When men as well connected as former Obama VP search committee head Jim Johnson and former McCain advisor (and lobbyist for Burma's military junta) Doug Goodyear can be ousted for their lobbying work on behalf of sketchy companies, it sends a powerful message to current law students (and recent college graduates): the revolving door between the corridors of power and the corridors of greed is rapidly closing.

Now, lawyers will have to choose: spend your career serving your country, or spend it serving your corporation.

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Calamity Kaine

Virginia governor Tim Kaine set a new standard for politician mealy-mouthedness with a letter to his Virginia Air Board (tip of the hat to Raising Kaine for digging this one up). Although he asserts that his letter isn't about any particular decision, everyone outside the governor's office knows that the letter is about one big decision: the proposed massive coal-fired power plant being planned for Wise County, Virginia. His bureaucratic opacity (PDF) is sure to be taught in government schools around the world about how to say nothing through the written word:

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McCain as Peacenik

In his speech tonight, John McCain adopted the brilliant strategy of presenting himself as the candidate of responsible peace:

I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I

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Leafy Laws: Climate Bills Could Save the World's Forests

More money for forests and wildlife conservation than have ever been available in history. The re-growth of many of the world's forests. Massive quantities of greenhouse gases sucked out of the air.
Those are a few of the benefits of the newest versions of the climate legislation now being considered in the House and Senate. Both the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner (pdf) bill and Congressman Ed Markey's latest draft (pdf) include massive financing for forest and land conservation that could save these planetary lungs.

Both bills are based on a fundamental recognition that trees suck up vast quantities of carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen - and that standing pristine forests and grasslands (especially tropical forests) are a tremendous storehouse of carbon that we've got to keep safely locked up in forests. Indeed, deforestation for agriculture and logging is already driving 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is the biggest single source in the developing world.

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McCain on the Plane

When the Senate is about to vote on a provision affecting the oil companies, John McCain has a certain favorite place he loves to be: his wife's private jet.

McCain has been "on the plane" for vote after vote that would have shifted billions in taxpayer subsidies from oil companies towards the clean energy and efficiency technologies that could free us from the grip of $4 a gallon gas and a climate in crisis.

Check out what Sierra Club president Carl Pope's account of one of McCain's many missed votes.

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Orangutans in My Hair

While doing the research for a Los Angeles Times op-ed about the dangers and prevalence of palm oil, I came across a great new website from the Rainforest Action Network that lists hundreds of products that contain this orangutan-killer (in case you haven't been following palm oil coverage on Grist and elsewhere, rainforests - the homes of the orangutans and many other rare creatures - are being destroyed at the fastest rate in history in Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for palm oil plantations, accounting for between four and eight percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions).

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1995 Obama Speaks

In a just-unearthed 1995 interview, Barack Obama describes America as "a land of strangers" where, despite all the rhetoric about the "browning of America," the melting pot remains a far-off dream for most -- with different communities as foreign to one another as distant countries. He discusses how white executives and inner-city residents alike must take more responsibility for themselves and each other.

But the truly amazing moment comes when Obama discusses his belief that his own personal salvation is inseparable from the redemption of the whole nation. You can hear Obama already fusing the personal and political into a spiritual mission like no other in modern politics. He's a man on fire.

The prolific veteran journalist Bill Thompson of Eye on Books has given my readers the first chance to hear this extraordinary interview.

Listen here.

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Bill McCamley (NM-02) Donates $47.50 to Himself

New Mexico congressional candidate Bill McCamley (who's running for Steve Pearce's seat), just came up with a very creative idea for taking the rug out from under self-financing candidates, in this case his oil executive primary opponent Harry Teague (who's hardly a loyal Democrat, having donated $1000 to Pearce's race in 2004). Other grassroots challengers should repeat it.

From the AP:

A Democratic candidate for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District has written a $47.50 check to has campaign.

Bill McCamley of Las Cruces staged today's event to contrast his opponent's campaign loans worth $475,000.

A Friend For Mr. Square Pants

Greenpeace recently announced the discovery of a new species of sponge, Aaptos kanuux, as a result of its deep explorations of the Bering Sea last summer. Here's a video of the sponge from Greenpeace, and more info from my fellow Green Corps alum, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner John Hocevar:

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Bush's "Bread Man"

Last week, The New York Times's David Streitfeld told the story of one JR Paterakis, a Baltimore "baker" who opposes the Conservation Reserve Program which provides incentives to farmers to set aside their land for wildlife, clean water, and (incidentally) massive carbon sequestration. Seemed like an opportunity to deploy my rye wit.

The program has been a huge success - protecting 35 million acres of land and partially restoring the "duck factory" of the Upper Midwest that fills the skies of North America with quacks and hunting opportunities - so why has Mr. Paterakis put this great environmental success story in his sights?

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Tommy Lee Jones on the Border Wall and Leprechauns

Actor Tommy Lee Jones, who frequently portrays law enforcement personnel on the big screen and starred in the border movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, shared his opinion about the border wall with 02138 magazine:

The idea of a fence between El Paso and Brownsville bears all the credibility and seriousness of flying saucers from Mars or leprechauns. Or any manner of malicious, paranoid superstition. In other words, it's bullshit.... It's a predatory approach to democracy by those who would instill fear and then propose themselves as a solution. It's very destructive. Very, very destructive. And it's the perfectly wrong thing to do.

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Actually, Obama Just Might be the Next Paul Wellstone

I was initially skeptical a few months ago when Barack Obama was heard in the heat of the Iowa campaign comparing himself to Paul Wellstone. But Obama's latest stroke of political genius, the "Obama Organizing Fellows" program, has helped me realize that Obama is actually taking Wellstone's movement-building focus to a truly presidential level.

The fellows program will train people how to become organizers; in other words, it will train people how to reach their full potential and build for themselves the kind of lasting progressive movement we'll need to both beat John McCain and achieve the kind of powerful progressive movement we need to achieve lasting change.

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Of Legal Eagles and Ocelots

Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging elements of the REAL ID act, which gives Secretary of Homeland Security the power to waive any environmental laws that would get in the way of the 700 mile long double layered concrete wall Congress authorized for the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Where's Grover Norquist When You Need Him?

Bush won't slash subsidies for raise taxes on oil companies, but he's happy to raise taxes on hikers and campers. But I'm sure Grover Norquist will hold him accountable for this apostasy.

Reeling from the high cost of fighting wildfires, federal land agencies have been imposing new fees and increasing existing ones at recreation sites across the West in an effort to raise tens of millions of dollars.

Additionally, hundreds of marginally profitable campsites and other public facilities on federal lands have been closed, and thousands more like overlooks and picnic tables are being considered for removal.

"As fire costs increase, I've got less and less money for other programs," said Dave Bull, superintendent of the Bitterroot National Forest here in Hamilton. The charge for access to Lake Como, a popular boating destination in the national forest, will be increased this year, to $5 from $2.

Since they're explaining this as fire-related, I'm sure Bush will charge the logging companies responsible for the fires for the damage they're doing to our forests and grasslands.

Gore to the Rescue

The Superdelegates just might save us.
I'm hoping that they will rescue the Democrats from two candidates with big vulnerabilities and unite Hillaryites, Obamanicacs, and former Edwards supporters like me behind a candidate who can truly bring us all together.

I'm talking about Al Gore.

Until recently, I didn't think Gore would run or even should run. He's making a huge difference around the world on stopping the climate crisis. And, like most people, I thought one or the other of the candidates would have shown the strength to unite Democrats behind their banner and show that they would lead a transformative presidency.

Unfortunately, neither Hillary nor Obama has yet succeeded on those counts, meaning that it's time to look for someone who can while it's not too late for them to enter the later primaries and earn some modicum of popular legitimacy.

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Courage in the Clinton Camp: Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Although I endorsed Obama, I've got to recognize Democratic courage wherever I see it. In the past week, I saw it very clearly in the Clinton camp.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones defied enormous pressure from her constituents and Team Obama to defect to the Obama camp, or at least tamp down her enthusiastic support for Clinton. She not only resisted that pressure, but continued to campaign heartily for Clinton at a time when so many others were betraying their promises and rushing to the Obama bandwagon. And she was right on stage with Clinton last night at the victory speech.

Tubbs Jones proved herself to be a woman of her word, and a woman of courage. That will benefit her and her constituents not just if Clinton gets to the White House, but also on Capitol Hill, where your power is only as strong as the trust of your colleagues.

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Wolverine Spotted in California for First Time in 30 Years

Originally published in Grist Magazine.

A camera array in California's Sierra Nevada mountains captured confirmed evidence of a wolverine for the first time in more than 30 years, a Forest Service official told colleagues yesterday.

The photo was taken in a relatively pristine part of Tahoe National Forest that Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Hilda Solis have proposed to protect as a Wilderness Study Area under their California Wild Heritage Act.

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What Kerry Did Right: Engage Nader

Like most Democrats, I've got my criticisms of the 2004 Kerry campaign. But I also saw first-hand how the Kerry campaign and John Kerry in particular did many things right and many things better than any previous Democratic campaign. I'll be writing occasional posts about the many positive lessons we can take from Senator Kerry's 2004 run.

Like most progressives, I was disappointed to see Ralph Nader announce his candidacy today, because there is a small risk he'll draw Democratic votes away from Obama or Clinton.

But the dismissive responses of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton worried me a bit more, because that's the wrong way to deal with the Nader candidacy. Four years ago, John Kerry and the Democrats dealt with the Nader challenge exactly correctly, and reaped the benefits - holding Nader to 3/10 of one percent of the vote, one tenth of what he got four years earlier.

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Weasels of the Week, Warriors of the Week

Fear and Courage in Congress

Nancy Pelosi showed herself to be this week's hero by standing up to Republican fear-mongering and cronyism by refusing to bring a deeply flawed wiretapping bill up for a vote. Although nearly everyone on both sides of the aisle admit privately that giving telecommunications companies immunity for illegal wiretapping of Americans has little to do with national security, until Pelosi's action, top Democrats had been unwilling to make that case publicly.

As I discuss in the Pelosi chapter of my new book, Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, Pelosi has always been great at acting courageously behind the scenes, playing an extremely constructive role, for instance, in shooting down polluter lackeys like John Dingell.

But she's been less willing to take those fights public - until now. Rather than letting her stand slip into memory (as Democrats have been wont to do with their repeated capitulations on Iraq and other issues), she's raising it again as Democrats come back from recess with this news release.

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Spine in Texas: Obama, Clinton Oppose Border Wall They Voted For

Last night's debate included some good news for the embattled wildlife and landscape of the Southwest.

In response to a question about whether or not they would slow construction of the border wall under construction in the Southwest, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton criticized the wall as ineffective and counterproductive.

Obama went so far as to say he would "reverse that policy" of building a wall, while Clinton criticized the wall as "absurd" and said she would "have a review and listen to the people who live along the border, who understand what it is we need to be doing to protect our country."

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Stakes Soar After McCain Denials

John McCain's repeated flat denials of any romantic or otherwise improper involvement with lobbyist Vicki Iseman have sent the stakes of this scandal soaring. No longer does he have to have just been faithful to his wife. In order for his integrity to hold, he's also got to be vindicated on his claim that his advisors never urged him to stop seeing Iseman for any reason.

If his denials don't hold up, it could sink him. Watch top Republican Bay Buchanan fume about what Republicans expect from their candidates.

We -- we -- you know, conservatives are -- we believe that we are the family value party. We believe it seriously. We expect our candidates to live up to those values, not just to talk about them and expect us to vote for them, and not be there really when it counts.

And our -- we have a basic belief. If can you lie to your wife and your children, then the voter doesn't have a prayer. And, so, that's where we stand. We assume our candidates are that way, unless we -- we have reason to believe otherwise.

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Weasel of the Week: Tim Kaine Burns National Ambitions in Coal Plant

Virginia's Democratic governor Tim Kaine, often mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential nominee, seems to be flushing his ambitions for national office down the toilet by actively working to build yet another coal fired power plant for one of his biggest campaign donors.

Kaine has tried to present himself as a green, forward-thinking governor by proposing a "Virginia Energy Plan" that he claimed would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent. True, Kaine is going ahead with plans to purchase a measly 27,000 compact fluorescent bulbs (which will save the amount of electricity used by - wait for it - 1300!! homes). But when it comes to things that actually matter - like where Virginia gets its energy from - he's actively backing to the construction of a new greenhouse gas/toxic pollution belching coal-fired power plant in Virginia's Wise County.

Kaine is increasingly looking like some kind of retro, dinosaur pol - practicing a kind of politics eerily similar to the Republican culture of corruption. Because behind this coal plant is Dominion Power, which has contributed over $135,000 directly to the governor's campaign and inaugural funds. He's giving at least the impression that these donations are driving his decisions more than his concern for Virginia or the country's well-being.

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The Rake Magazine: "Politics Have Rarely Been Hotter"

A Bit of Courage and a Dash of Spunk
By Kate Leibfried

Blunt, brutal, to-the-point honesty can be pretty rare in politics, but that is exactly what Glenn Hurowitz delivers in his candid book called Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party. Hurowitz is a journalist, political commentator and the president of the Democratic Courage political action committee. He is also fed up with the status quo. Hurowitz' book is frank conversation about the watering-down of Democratic politics and the trepidation most Dems have to stray too far from the comfortable middle ground. Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party is also a call for change. Citing courageous politicians such as the late Paul Wellstone, Hurowitz encourages Dems to fight for what they believe in and to resist being "spineless weasels" like some politicians. Politics have rarely been hotter.

Wisconsin Public Radio, The Progressive Radio show, Yale Herald Interview

A couple of highlights from the ongoing book tour I thought I'd share:

Appearances on The Progressive magazine's nationally-syndicated radio show hosted by Matt Rothschild, Utah Public Radio, and Wisconsin Public Radio with Joy Cardin. Also, check out this interview with The Yale Herald's Alex Hemmer:

Former Eli trumpets political courage for Dems

Glenn Hurowitz, SY '00, is a Democratic organizer, strategist and author, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and the president of Democratic Courage, a political action committee dedicated to sponsoring a "progressive, courageous, and winning" Democratic presidential candidate. He returned to Yale this week and sat down with the Herald to discuss politics, student engagement, and his new book, Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party.

Yale Herald: How do you think Yale has changed since you left--politically, or in terms of the engagement of the student body?

Glenn Hurowitz: The biggest change is that when I left, people interested in electoral politics were--with some exceptions--generally viewed as tools...

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Hanging Tough for a Green Stimulus

With markets plunging and Americans nervous about our economic future, all eyes are turning to Congressional Democrats to see what kind of action they can come up with to spur economic growth.

This puts Democrats in a bind. On the one hand, whatever action they take isn't likely to boost the economy immediately; it takes time for government spending and tax cuts to translate into more jobs and higher wages. On the other hand, Republicans may obstruct any truly progressive economic stimulus legislation - and then hypocritically blame Democrats for not "getting things done."

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John Edwards' Knockout Punch

John Edwards will need a virtuoso performance at tonight's debate to achieve the dramatic come-from-behind win he needs to stay alive. He's facing an opponent in Barack Obama who proved with his amazing Iowa victory that he is an extraordinary organizer, possibly a strategic genius, and above all an inspiring presence who captured Iowans' hunger for change. And he's got momentum. And let's not forget Hillary Clinton, who can count on lots of money, a ruthless campaign operation, and real affection for her and Bill Clinton in the state.

But Edwards can definitely win - with a slight retooling of his message.

- Give us a little hope
The first thing Edwards has to do is combine his anti-corporate message with an inspiring vision of a hopeful future. Anti-corporate attacks, though they strike a chord with many Democratic voters, can only go so far. You also need to give voters a great hope that you can do better, especially now that most Democrats and most Americans are feeling excited about the possibility of real change that the Iowa result represented. Obama has been very effective at wrapping himself in hope. Reviving Edwards's successful 2004 speech line, "Hope is on the way," would be a great start.

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Cyanide Cynthia, World's Biggest Scrooge

Originally Published in The Huffington Post and Grist, December 25, 2007.

Anglo-American CEO Loves Gold, Hates Fish

Having trouble finding a Grinch this Christmas?

Try Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Anglo-American Mining Company. Carroll's company has teamed up with Northern Dynasty (like the television show Dynasty, only eviler) to build the world's biggest dam in Alaska so she can mine piles of gold, which will have the unfortunate impact of destroying the world's largest salmon fishery. Not only will the dam prevent the salmon from reaching their spawning grounds, the cyanide Carroll uses to extract gold from rock will likely seep into the river, ruining the salmon's sense of smell, which is vital to them finding their way, if it doesn't just kill them outright. In fairness, Carroll apparently needs something with which to re-gild her toilet.

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Paul Hogarth in Beyond Chron: Fear and Courage Compelling and Persuasive

Paul Hogarth of Beyond Chron, San Francisco's "Alternative Online Daily" just penned an impressive review of Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party.. Paul is literate, courageous, and a successful activist outside of journalism - and he blogs with flair - so I'm heartened by his praise. Here are some of the highlights of the review, "What Democrats Need is a Little Backbone:"

In less than three weeks, Iowa and New Hampshire voters will cast the first ballots for the Democratic presidential nomination...We should expect as vicious an assault as we saw when Clinton first became President. Progressives must prepare to deal with a Democratic Party that has been so cowed down by the Politics of Fear that they have stymied and betrayed the progressive agenda. With Fear and Courage, Hurowitz offers a compelling case for a new politics that will help progressives realize their goals.

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Hillary Clinton vs. Me

As part of the first round of my publicity tour for Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, I appeared on Air America's Ring of Fire in a chat with the inimitable Mike Papantonio (a courageous progressive hero in his own right) and Liberal Oasis's Bill Scher (author of his own superb book about the importance of Democrats staying and fighting). I broke some news on Liberal Oasis about a big upcoming endorsement in Iowa for John Edwards and had, as always, a rollicking discussion with Pap about how Democrats and progressives in general need to stick to their guns.

The cool thing about the Ring of Fire appearance is that I was on right after Hillary Clinton and was able to talk about how her "Politics of Fear" approach and unwillingness to stand up to Republican bullying will lessen Democrats' chances of winning in 2008 as well as our chances of achieving major progressive change in the country - providing an alternate perspective to Clinton's.
P.S. Definitely check out Ring of Fire and GoLeft TV; it's an amazing show (and not just because they score Hillary Clinton (and me) for interviews) bringing a little backbone to the airwaves.

First Day of Book Tour: Iowa Public Radio

I was in Iowa City (home of the University of Iowa) last night for a book event with the University Democrats and State Senator Joe Bolkcom, a real progressive hero in his own right. What I really liked about the event was that the people in attendance supported many different candidates for the upcoming caucuses; although I shared my own opinions about where the different candidates stack up on the courage continuum, we were able to have a really meaningful discussion about them and more broadly about the book without getting caught up in everyone blindly arguing for his or her candidate.

Before the event, I did an interview on Iowa Public Radio's Midday program with host Rob Dillard about the book. We talked about how Democrats fell into the grip of a flawed political strategy, believing that shifting their issue positions to the center could win them extra support without imperiling voters' view of their integrity and the strength of their leadership. We also talked about progressive heroes like Paul Wellstone, "gutless wonder" Bill Clinton, and of course, how courage will affect the outcome of the upcoming caucuses. Listen here.

First Review: "Brilliant"

The first editorial review of Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party is out and the verdict? "Brilliant," according to blogger Howie Klein. Below is an excerpt of his review:

One of the premises of Glenn Hurowitz's brilliant new book, Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, is that voters are attracted to-- even crave-- strong and resolute leadership, even above and beyond issue agreement. "Voters," writes Hurowitz, "continue to look for candidates who will stand up and fight for their principles-- even if they happen to disagree with those principles."

He points to how this resolute image helped a progressive hero like Paul Wellstone, who was widely admired for voting his convictions-- sometimes less than popular convictions-- as well as arch-villain George Bush, who has successfully employed a 7 year multimillion dollar P.R. effort to portray himself as a strong leader even while he is a cowardly, vacillating and weak individual... pigheaded and stubborn but neither strong nor anchored in principle...

This is Hillary Clinton's fatal flaw. Shifting is the exact prescription the corporately-funded DLC is always urging Democrats to do to survive and it is why Democrats have fared so poorly in the last decade....

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NPR's Morning Edition Features Democratic Courage Ad

Democratic Courage was featured on NPR's Morning Edition in a great story by Peter Overby, which you can listen to here.

Outside of the mention of our work and the replaying of our television advertisement, it was a very interesting look at ways a variety of independent groups on the right and left are working to influence the presidential race; often doing it more creatively and with messages that the candidates themselves are wary of taking on. Enjoy.

Democrats Doomed Without Political Courage, Says Hurowitz's Controversial New Book

Advance order a copy of Democratic Courage President Glenn Hurowitz's "brilliant" new book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party by clicking here.

Glenn is going to be touring during December and January; click here to see when he'll be in your area.

The publication announcement from Maisonneuve Press is below.

Journalist Glenn Hurowitz Challenges Clintonian Politics, With Implications for 2008

Washington, DC -- Democrats need to start showing far more political courage, or they will risk defeat in 2008 and beyond, writes journalist and political veteran Glenn Hurowitz in his controversial new book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, being released by Maisonneuve Press on December 11.

"If Democrats can't stand up to Rudy Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh, and the Republicans, voters will ask how they are going to stand up to Osama bin Laden," Hurowitz said.

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Democratic Courage's Thoughts are With the Clinton Campaign

UPDATE: Hostages released! "We're very relieved that everyone is safe," says Democratic Courage president Glenn Hurowitz.

Democratic Courage President Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement in response to the hostage taking at Hillary Clinton's Rochester, NH satellite office:

"All of us extend our thoughts and prayers to the hostages and to the entire Clinton campaign. We hope this comes to a safe and speedy resolution."

Roger Simon: "Clinton Bombs Debate"

The Politico's Roger Simon declared Hillary Clinton the clear loser of last night's debate:

In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign.

It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued drivers' licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading.

It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.

And when it was over, both the Barack Obama and John Edwards campaigns signaled that in the weeks ahead they intend to hammer home a simple message: Hillary Clinton does not say what she means or mean what she says.

And she gave them plenty of ammunition Tuesday night.

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Democratic Courage on Air America's Ring of Fire

This weekend, Democratic Courage president Glenn Hurowitz was interviewed by Thom Hartmann on Air America's Ring of Fire radio show to discuss Republican efforts to build the border wall (and why Democrats and environmentalists haven't done enough to stop them, his forthcoming book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Courage PAC. Hear about how and why Republicans and many Democrats are sacrificing endangered species, human lives, and national security to build a symbol that won't actually achieve its stated purpose of keeping illegal immigrants out. Glenn reports on his recent visit to the Rio Grande Valley to tour the South Texas border.

Listen Now.

Wanted: Climate Disaster Rapid Response

Originally Published in Grist.

As Matt Stoller pointed out here, environmental groups haven't been very quick off the mark in responding to the California wildfires and framing them as a climate disaster. Whether it's Katrina, Rita, the 2003 wildfires, 2004 Florida hurricanes, or any of the numerous other climate disasters of recent years, environmental groups have been a little too cautious in their response.

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Chertoff Lies, Wildlife Dies

Originally published in The Huffington Post & Grist.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday that he's going to just waive the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Waste Disposal Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (among many others) in order to plough ahead with building a wall along the Arizona-Mexico border in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

He repeated his rationale that the wall could be good for the environment because migrants leave behind trash:

But there are also environmental reasons to stop illegal crossings in the SPRNCA. Illegal entrants leave trash and high concentrations of human waste, which impact wildlife, vegetation and water quality in the habitat. Wildfires caused by campfires have significantly damaged the soil, vegetation, and cultural sites, not to mention threatened human safety.

As anyone who's spent any time along the border (or, really, anywhere on the planet) can attest, this statement is a complete lie.

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John Edwards's One Million Consultants

As part of his effort to limit the influence of corporate lobbyists and other big money scoundrels, John Edwards announced this weekend that, as president, he will invite one million people every two years to participate in a deliberative democracy forum to hatch and debate policy ideas as a way to put ordinary people front and center in the governing process. It's like having one million consultants, but instead of the consultants being hacks providing self-serving and often false advice, they're ordinary people finally getting a bit of access to the governing process. I'd caution that this kind of effort is a great incubator of ideas but doesn't substitute for developing the raw political power necessary to get laws passed - though it can help if the million participants act as ambassadors for the ideas they come up with.

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Senate Condemns Enviros' Best Friend

Dems Join Censure of

23 Senate Democrats joined all the Republicans in a vote Thursday to condemn for its New York Times ad questioning whether General David Petraeus would deliver truthful testimony about Iraq (he didn't).

Although the topic of this dispute was Iraq, the Senate's willingness to go out of its way to attack should be of major concern to environmentalists as well. MoveOn has been one of the environment's best friends, running a sustained and highly effective campaign to tackle the climate crisis. I've personally witnessed the fruits of their labors.

When I was working as Deputy Field Director for a major national environmental group, we worked closely with to set up district meetings across the country to fight George Bush's energy policy; MoveOn's involvement enabled us to do far more in less time than we otherwise would have been able.

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The Great Global Warming Fast

I'm incredibly excited about the September 4th Climate Emergency Fast being organized by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and others. I've signed up, and hope you will too by clicking here. In one week, the number of fasters has grown from 395 to 795 and continues to multiply. Everyone I've talked to about it is instantly drawn to it; people seem to instinctively understand that we need to move beyond polite letter-writing, lobbying, and yes - blogging - that has characterized response to the climate crisis thus far.

In most true crises, people take to the streets if the government doesn't act. What's happening to the planet is a crisis of that scale, but thus far hasn't got the dramatic response it merits. Institutional advocacy just won't cut it.

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Dirk and the Dodo: Kempthorne Gets "Award" for Record Failure to Protect Species

The Center for Biological Diversity yesterday presented Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne with its first ever "Rubber Dodo" award in honor of going a record one year and 90 days without listing a new species as endangered or threatened.

The previous record holder was Ronald Reagan's notorious Interior Secretary James Watt, who went a comparatively wimpy 376 days without listing a new species. Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife Service has classified 279 species as "candidates" for listing, because they're in danger of extinction, but haven't yet been given protection by Secretary Kempthorne.

"That waiting list could turn into a "too-late" list without government action, as species in dire need of protection go extinct," the Center said in an email to its supporters.

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Udderly Awesome: Starbucks Bans Growth Hormone from Its Milk

If you haven't been ordering that double whipped Frappuccino at your local Starbucks with soy milk, you've likely been gulping down Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). It makes cows produce more milk, but it's thought to increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in humans (if only they could come up with something to make cows squirt machiatto directly from their udders).

But now, after two years of pressure from the organization Food and Water Watch, Starbucks has announced that it's going to go rBGH free by December 31, 2007.

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Science: Regular Oil Cleaner than Biofuels

A new study in the journal Science ($ub req'd) by Renton Rieghelato and Dominick V. Spracklen validates what many have been saying all along: that biofuels, especially those from the tropics, are far worse for the planet than regular old crude oil.

The study finds that we could reduce global warming pollution two to nine times more by conserving or restoring forests and grasslands rather than razing them and turning them into biofuels plantations - even if we continue to use fossil fuels as our main source of energy. That's because those forests and grasslands act as the lungs of the planet - their dense vegetation sucks up far more carbon dioxide and breathes out far more oxygen than any biofuel crop ever could.

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Take Action! Tell George Soros to Stop Funding Forest Destruction

Billionaire financier (and generous Democratic Party funder) George Soros has joined Jeb Bush, Goldman Sachs, and agrbusiness giants like Archer Daniels Midland in funding the destruction of South American forests. We believe we have a great chance to convince him to stop - and set a good example for his fellow billionaires.

Click here to send him a note urging him to redirect his money towards lucrative - and environmentally sound - investments like wind and solar power, improved efficiency, and forest conservation.

Read more here.

Tell Al Gore You Stand Behind His Call for Civil Disobedience Against Polluters

From The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof:

I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue -- recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don't emanate from Al Qaeda.

"We are now treating the Earth's atmosphere as an open sewer," he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources.

"I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."

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Coal's Latest Victims

As awful as the fate of the four coal miners trapped underground in Utah is, the sad truth is that they represent merely a fraction of the casualties of America's addiction to coal.

Every year in America, pollution from coal fired power plants cuts short the lives of more than 30,000 people and causes millions of asthma attacks, according to government consultants Abt Associates. It's also responsible for retarding the mental development of thousands of American children: according to EPA scientists, more than one in six children born every year have elevated levels of mercury in their blood, putting them at risk for developmental disorders and slower brain growth.

Worst of all, coal is driving the global climate crisis that is putting billions of people at risk from more extreme weather, spreading infectious disease, and disastrous flooding (not to mention threatening thousands of species with extinction).

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George Soros vs. The Planet

Originally Published by Grist Magazine, April 2, 2007

Well, that whole beating George Bush thing in 2004 didn't work out, so now billionaire financier/Democratic fundraiser/democracy spreader George Soros is back to his first love: making money - apparently even when it comes at the expense of the planet.

Sabrina Valle of The Washington Post is reporting that Soros is one of the biggest investors in growing sugarcane for ethanol in the Brazilian cerrado, "a vast plateau where temperatures range from freezing to steaming hot and bushes and grasslands alternate with forests and the richest variety of flora of all the world's savannas."

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Bill Richardson Courageously Bolsters Green Cred

Bill Richardson courageously acted this week to save the highly endangered wolves of New Mexico by calling for suspension of a brutal Bush administration policy that puts taxpayer dollars toward hunting down endangered species like the wolf.

Richardson was spurred to act when a federal wildlife agent, acting under the auspices of the Bush administration policy, on July 5 shot and killed a female wolf pack leader in New Mexico (one of only about 55 mature wolves still alive in the wild in New Mexico).

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bush administration sharpshooter pointed his gun at a New Mexico state biologist who objected to his shooting the wolf before he slaughtered the animal.

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A Washington Tryst? Questions from the Iraq Vigil

Top-featured front-page post at The Huffington Post, July 18, 2007!

The great question on the minds of the people gathered tonight outside the Capitol, and, I suspect, at the more than 150 similar anti-war vigils nationwide was, "Are the Democrats for real?"

Tonight, Reid, Pelosi, and Carl Levin, for at least one glorious instant, became the "Fighting Dems."

"I want everyone here tonight - every American from coast to coast - to know that we won't stop fighting until we end this war," Reid said. "That is what this night is all about."

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Missing from Live Earth: The Environmental Movement

We have so much to be excited about Live Earth - above all, it brought the message of a climate in crisis to more than 2 billion people worldwide - and that's something that even Ann Curry's excruciatingly stupid interviews with Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg couldn't stop.

Thanks to Al Gore, Alicia Keys, and Madonna, there are many more people today who know that the planet is in danger than yesterday, and know there are simple things they can do about it: change their light bulbs, "stop driving so many big-ass cars" (Chris Rock), and even tell our political leaders to take action.  

The world is a vastly better place for it.

But there was one big thing missing from the concerts: the environmental movement.

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Democrats Should Welcome Bloomberg

Democrats Should Welcome Bloomberg
Mike Bloomberg's announcement that he's leaving the Republican Party to become an independent should be scary news for Democrats.

He's a moderate, he's not shy about his disgust for the Bush administration, and he has (or will have) a largely positive, progressive record on issues like education and the environment. It's hard to see this pro-choice, pro-gun control, anti-war ex-Democrat ex-Republican having too much appeal to the GOP dead-enders who've stuck with Bush and the Republicans this far and are looking for a candidate who will continue Bush's hard-right governance and conservative cultural jihad at all costs.

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Republicans Save Democrats from Democrats

By Glenn Hurowitz

Having been around the block in Washington, I've become accustomed to good things happening for bad reasons. Last night was no different. 38 Republicans turned against their president to kill his immigration bill. Meanwhile, the majority of Democrats voted with Bush for the bill - even though it represents a disaster for workers, immigrants, and the environment.

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Do You Trust Bush?

Do you trust George W. Bush - do you?

Some progressives are saying that when it comes to immigration, they're willing to cast aside all the past lies, suspicion, and betrayals and have faith that Bush's deal will help immigrants and help workers.

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Iraq and the Wimp Love Myth

Originally Posted at The Huffington Post, May 25, 2007

The Spineless Dem has risen again.

Democrats have responded to months of Republican intransigence by cutting deals on GOP priorities like trade and immigration - and have now capitulated completely to Republican demands on Iraq.

Why are the Democrats acting so butter-boned?

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Bill Richardson Opposes Immigration Deal

Bill Richardson just came out as the first major Democrat to oppose the dangerous immigration deal cut by leading Democratic senators and the Bush White House.

"This is fundamentally flawed in its current form, and I would oppose it," he told The New York Times. "We need bipartisanship, but we also need legislation that is compassionate. I'm not sure that this is."

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Are Progressives Getting Anything from the Democrats?

Originally published at The Huffington Post, May 22, 2007.

While Republicans are holding up everything Democrats ran on, does it really make sense for Democrats to start giving President Bush and the Republicans victories on THEIR priorities?

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Breaking: Immigration Deal Disaster for Environment, Workers

UPDATE: Featured as the "Thought of the Day" at The Hotline.

Senate Democrats and Republicans have concluded an "immigration reform" deal that will be a disaster for the environment. To placate extremist anti-immigrant activists, Democrats agreed to go ahead and finance construction of 370 miles of fencing along the Mexican border. The double-layered concrete wall will cut off endangered wildlife like jaguars, Sonoran pronghorn antelope, and the ferruginous pygmy owl from their habitat and divide several wildlife refuges that local conservationists fought for decades to create.

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Tommy Hilfiger Slashes Janitor Wages, Ousts Union

The New York Times's Jim Dwyer has a great (and tragicomic) story today about clothing giant Tommy Hilfiger cutting its janitors' wages from $19 an hour to $8 an hour - and firing its unionized cleaning contractor to replace it with a non-union one. All the while, Mr. Hilfiger himself is pulling down more than $14.5 million a year.

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Edwards Running Too Far Left?

Top tier pundit Stuart Rothenberg ponders whether
or not John Edwards is running too far to the left to make him appealing
to mainstream Democrats and mainstream Americans in today's Roll Call.

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Obama's Auto Plan Neither New Nor Bold

Barack Obama got huge coverageyesterday for "standing up" to the auto industry by calling on them to accept tighter fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks - and doing it in their own backyard in Detroit. Although it's encouraging anytime a candidate calls for increasing fuel economy, we have to ask: is Obama's proposal really anything to coo about?

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Hitchens: Karl Rove an Atheist

According to ex-liberal neo-con Bush administration buddy Christopher Hitchens, Karl Rove is an atheist. Here's an excerpt from his interview with New York magazine's Boris Kachka:

Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist? Well, I don't talk that much to them--maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn't shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, "I'm not fortunate enough to be a person of faith."

What must Bush make of that?
I think it's false to say that the president acts as if he believes he has God's instructions. Compared to Jimmy Carter, he's nowhere. He's a Methodist, having joined his wife's church in the end. He also claims that Jesus got him off the demon drink. He doesn't believe it. His wife said, "If you don't stop, I'm leaving and I'm taking the kids." You can say that you got help from Jesus if you want, but that's just a polite way of putting it in Texas.

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What are They Reading in Reid's Office?

In a new article in The Forward by writer Jenn Siegel, I go toe-to-toe with Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid's spokesman Jim Manley in debating what should be done about evidence of massive voter fraud in the 2004 election in Ohio chronicled in Robert Kennedy's recent Rolling Stone article.

Glenn Hurowitz, former deputy field director for the left-leaning Public Interest Research Group, told the Forward that many of his friends and colleagues have discussed Kennedy's article in recent days, and he believes that Democratic leaders should be more public and vocal about the issue.

"I think it would be incredibly useful for the Democrats to talk about these allegations over and over and over again, and by doing so, undermine the legitimacy of Bush's presidency even more," said Hurowitz, who is working on a book about the history of fear and courage in the Democratic Party. "I'm definitely disappointed" in the Democratic leadership.

Several Democratic leaders did not return calls from the Forward.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said that revisiting 2004 for the sake of questioning the outcome of the election was not a party priority.

"I haven't even read the article, for God's sake," Manley told the Forward. We have "five or six months to go before the November elections; we've got an important debate about Iraq coming up." He added, "We're looking forward, not looking back."

Um, Jim - have you noticed that focusing on the scandals of "the past" has done a pretty good job of lowering Bush's approval rating? Dem leadership needs to learn not to fall for Republican messaging saying that American people don't want ot hera about Republican corruption. They may not WANT to hear about it, but they sure do respond when they do.

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