Barbara Boxer: Champion in the Senate Against the Afghanistan War

If you've ever spent quality time trying to move an agenda through Congress, you know that moving an agenda isn't just about lobbying individual Members. You need a "champion" for your issue. The champion introduces your bill. The champion recruits other offices to sign up. The champion introduces an amendment that carries the same idea as the bill and lobbies other Members to vote for it. The champion circulates letters to other offices. The champion raises the profile of your issue in the media.

When Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold lost his bid for re-election, advocates working to end the war in Afghanistan lost their champion in the Senate. It was Feingold's office that introduced the bill, introduced the amendment, circulated the letter, led the lobbying of other offices, led the charge in the media.

Now California Senator Barbara Boxer has re-introduced Feingold's bill requiring the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan - a timetable with an end date. So far, Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown have signed on as co-sponsors of Senator Boxer's bill.

 

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Feingold to Give Opening Keynote at Netroots Nation

Day old news, but still worth a mention.  Russ Feingold will deliver the opening keynote at Netroots Nation 2011 in Minnesota.  Feingold's announcement brings it full circle, outlining the fight progressives have taken up:

If you've been following what's going on in Wisconsin, then you're seeing what I'm seeing: the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations that continue to invade our system of government.

And that's why I just launched Progressives United, a new organization that will bring together progressives like you to fight back against that corporate influence.

Many of you have already been hard at work standing up for the American people and fighting back against the hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate special interests. But our real fight is ahead, as special interests will try to buy their way to victory in 2012.

Feingold's direct involvement in protests and push-back against Walker's "budget" in Wisconsin position him well.  Reaction to events in Wisconsin have helped to define a clear narrative for this year's conference on the vigourous (and organized) GOP attack on unions, mass progressive push-back, and linking it all back to increased coporate influence through Citizens United.

Defining a progressive strategy and narrative will be key to constructing an ongoing mass movement out of mass outrage.  Feingold can help lead that charge.

 

 

Feingold to Give Opening Keynote at Netroots Nation

Day old news, but still worth a mention.  Russ Feingold will deliver the opening keynote at Netroots Nation 2011 in Minnesota.  Feingold's announcement brings it full circle, outlining the fight progressives have taken up:

If you've been following what's going on in Wisconsin, then you're seeing what I'm seeing: the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations that continue to invade our system of government.

And that's why I just launched Progressives United, a new organization that will bring together progressives like you to fight back against that corporate influence.

Many of you have already been hard at work standing up for the American people and fighting back against the hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate special interests. But our real fight is ahead, as special interests will try to buy their way to victory in 2012.

Feingold's direct involvement in protests and push-back against Walker's "budget" in Wisconsin position him well.  Reaction to events in Wisconsin have helped to define a clear narrative for this year's conference on the vigourous (and organized) GOP attack on unions, mass progressive push-back, and linking it all back to increased coporate influence through Citizens United.

Defining a progressive strategy and narrative will be key to constructing an ongoing mass movement out of mass outrage.  Feingold can help lead that charge.

 

 

Sen Feingold Accepts 23,000 Thank You Cards From DFA

cross-posted from Sum of Change

I was honored today to join folks from DC for Democracy, the local Democracy for America affiliate, to personally deliver over 23,000 thank you notes to Senator Russ Feingold. Shortly after the the 2010 election, Jim Dean asked DFA members from all across the country to send the Senator messages of appreciation. In an email to all members, he wrote:

We lost a lot of bold leaders on Tuesday, but Senator Russ Feingold is in a class all his own. He is one of the great heroes of the progressive movement -- standing up and fighting for the people of his state and Americans across the country time and again -- often when no one else had the courage to lead. When other Democrats in Washington capitulated to President Bush and supported the war in Iraq, Senator Feingold stood up and voted against war. Two years later, he became the first Senator to call a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. When the Bush administration pushed the Patriot Act on Congress, Senator Feingold was the only person is the Senate to recognize the bill as an attack on American civil liberties and vote "No." And when unlimited and unregulated "soft money" threatened to overwhelm our political system, Senator Feingold authored and passed into law the most powerful campaign finance reform in history. Senator Feingold has always been there for us. Please, join me in writing Senator Feingold a short thank you message for all the work he's done for us over the years.

We met up at Senator Feingold's campaign office, a short walk from Union Station, and waited patiently for the Senator to get back from voting on the START Treaty. The staff asked me not to film the meeting so they could have a casual conversation, but I did get the opportunity to catch the DC4D folks at Senator Feingold's office getting their first look at the tens of thousands of thank messages:

Sumofchange - DFA Thanks Sen Feingold

 

In our meeting, the Senator told us he is looking forward to the coming fights and while his role will change we should expect him to continue to lead on any number of issues. Thank you, Senator, for your years of service, courage, and integrity. To everyone who wrote a thank you message, I wish you could have seen the look on his face when we presented them to him. Know that he appreciate

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Weekly Mulch: Climate Deniers Set to Freeze Progress in Congress

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

A chill is coming to Washington. A wave of climate change deniers were elected to office this week, and come January, we can expect a freeze in all reasonable and productive discussion about the fate of the planet.

Last year, the political discussion about climate change and carbon regulation was complicated and bogged down, but at least it was happening.

Who are the deniers?

Grist has pulled together a list of the climate deniers headed into power in the Senate. “Overall, the Senate next year will be more hostile to climate action than ever before,” the site’s staff says.

If these climate-denying legislators came from deeply red states, Tuesday’s results might not be so shocking. But many of them represent swing states, or states that might be red in presidential contests, but that have previously elected Democrats to Congress.

Farewell, moderation

These latter states include North Dakota, whose new senator, John Hoeven, made Grist’s list, and Indiana. Also on the list are Marco Rubio, from Florida, Kelly Ayotte, from New Hampshire, and Pat Toomey, from Pennsylvania.

Perhaps most disheartening is the replacement of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) with Senator-Elect Ron Johnson. Johnson is to the right of the independent-minded Feingold on a host of issues, but as Mother JonesAndy Kroll writes, “What landed Johnson in headlines earlier this year was his claim that climate change wasn’t created by humans but instead was the result of ’sunspot activity.’

The new climate “science”

Sunspot activity is just one explanation that newly elected Republicans have grabbed onto to explain the very real phenomenon of climate change. Care2’s Beth Buczynski has rounded up a few choice quotes from these new leaders:

“With the possible exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify “climate change” was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda.” —Todd Young, new congressperson from Indiana

“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” —Roy Blunt, new senator from Missouri

There are more where these came from.

In denial

What does this shift mean? In short, that the United States and our environmental policies will be limping forward and falling behind the rest of the world as international communities try to deal with climate change. As Brian Merchant writes at AlterNet:

…the current crop of GOP politicians have adopted a somewhat united ideological front opposing not only climate legislation, but the general notion of climate science itself. Nowhere else in the world has a leading political party availed itself of a position so directly in opposition to science — indeed, today’s GOP is the only party in the world that incorporates climate change denial as part of its political platform.

On the domestic front, writes The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia, that means that even unambitious legislation, like the renewable energy standard, stands little chance of passing. As it’s currently written, the renewable energy standard would require a certain percentage of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources. In reality, it would not even push clean energy production to grow faster than market forces alone would. The main purpose of passing a standard would be to signal to clean energy investors that the government supports their work.

In other words, in the current legislative climate, our leaders wouldn’t even get behind legislation that is just a sign of support for clean energy and the jobs it would create.

Zombie Climategate

Instead, the House’s leadership plans on spending its time staging a show trial of climate science. The chief executor of this strategy will be Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is set to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Change.org’s Jess Leber explains:

From his new position, the former car-alarm company owner plans to raise false alarm about climate conspiracy theories. As Nikki Gloudeman wrote, just a few weeks ago Issa vowed to make investigating “Climategate”—the climate pseudo-scandal that’s already died 1,000 deaths—a top oversight priority should he win the committee.

In theory, Issa would be investigating a series of emails, sent by British climate scientists. Climate skeptics argue the emails prove that scientists are falsifying evidence of climate change. Extensive investigations have already debunked those claims.

In short, environmental leader Bill McKibben had the right idea back in September. Anyone who’s interested in advocating for climate change action in this country would do well to stop trying to convince Congress to do its job. Our leaders won’t be listening.

The best path forward may be to start convincing the American people, in the hope that, two years from now, they’ll vote for candidates who have a clue.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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