Leaving MyDD

I have accepted a campaign-style job that may or may not last beyond the midterms. This position, as is the norm for such things, does not permit blogging. I hope/plan to return to MyDD when I can but whether that’s as soon as November or not until I go back to grad school, I do not know.

Thanks to Jerome for allowing me this wonderful opportunity, first under the name “Transplanted Texan” as a Biden volunteer in 2007, then as a weekend blogger in 2008, and finally as a routine front-pager for the past 12 months. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to engage in the political process this way, and to interact with the motivated Netroots and MyDD community.

I’ve spent the last four days driving across the continent, from Coeur d’Alene, ID to Washington, DC with stops in Montana, Minnesota, and Ohio. This really is a remarkable country we live in. The land formations, natural resources, and people – we are truly blessed. Let’s appreciate what we’ve been given, and let’s not screw it up. Not this November or ever.

I’ll miss MyDD. If you’ll miss me, or just want to express your appreciation for my posts on Glenn Beck, Katrina recovery, or clean energy, please say so with a donation to our ActBlue candidates. No, I’m not so arrogant as to think anyone cares that much about my posts – I just want to be sure to get in one last plug for competitive progressives like Alan Grayson, Matt Dunne, Jack Conway, and Bill White! (Matt, btw, just got his second newspaper endorsement in a competitive primary for an open governorship, and aired his first TV ad this week.)

Anyways, God bless, good luck, and I look forward to returning down the line.

Anarchy By Any Other Name

Is there anything more sickening in politics than folks who call their opponents Commies or Nazis? I submit very little.

Even someone as “distinguished” as Newt Gingrich tears into Pelosi and Reid as “socialists.” Excuse me? If you took liberal politics to their extreme, yeah, maybe you’d get socialism, but that’s not what’s happening. The government has taken over ONE private industry, and even that was temporary.

The left isn’t always much better, though. We see less of it now than we did during the Bush years, but conservatives are not fascists or Nazis. And unlike the “socialism” claims, those attacks don’t even make sense. Conservatives claim to be about small government, and if you take small government to its extreme, you don’t get an over-bearing government. You get no government.

Thus, using their own exaggerated “logic,” libertarians aren’t fascists. They’re anarchists. Violent anarchists.

Hyperbole aside, current right-wing populism really does border on anarchy. Historically libertarians claim the government should be for little more than defense, but now we see the Tea Party wanting to abandon even that. Sarah Palin has lost favor with some partiers because she wants to exempt defense from their small-government ideology. And Glenn Beck even said we should get rid of the US military and use only mercenaries. (Does this mean he endorses the criminal murders and theocratic mindset of Blackwater/Xe?)

I agree with Jerome – beating up on the tea party won’t help us win this November. But, focusing on tea party candidates like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, tying them to Beck and Palin, and portraying the whole GOP that way might just make the election partly a referendum on the right-wing rather than entirely on jobs. (There’s no getting around the fact that it will be mostly jobs. It just doesn’t have to be all jobs.)

But the midterms aside, all I’m really saying is, the next time a tea party friend calls you an evil Socialist, use his logic and call him (or her) a reckless anarchist in return.

Momentum in Open Race for VT-Gov

By now you know I've pushing progressive candidate Matt Dunne for the open Vermont governorship. Vermont hasn't had a progressive Governor since Howard Dean, and Matt's got the right background to win this tough election and the right ideas to govern.

His campaign has had some major momentum this week. First, with the first newspaper endorsement of the cycle, the Addison County Independent has embraced Matt Dunne:

Matt Dunne, however, is the candidate at the crossroads of this new generation. He gets it, understands its power and the opportunities waiting to be tapped, can articulate what is both practical and promising, and can set the state on a path to seize that new energy.

While we have no doubt that others could lead the state well, we think Dunne’s unique background as a community developer for Google, his leadership under President Clinton with Ameri-Corps, his family connection to Vermont’s dairy farming will provide a new kind of leadership style that will forge alliances — not for political purposes (a benefit of not being part of the current political leadership) — but for the betterment of the state. Finally, of all the candidates, his vision and intuition perfectly match the times....

We not only think he can do the job, he’s the candidate to help the state seize the day for the next decade and for our sons’ and daughters’ futures. Vote Matt Dunne for governor in the upcoming Democratic primary.

The endorsement follows the campaign's announcement that they met the fundraising goals they'd set for a drive that ended Tuesday night. This means they'll be on television with their first ad soon.

The primary is just a couple weeks away, and absentee ballots are already out. With a low turnout expected, GOTV and final fundraising will make the difference. Please help Matt out at ActBlue.

Matt also used this week to unveil a detailed economic plan for Vermont.

Climate Hero McKibben on the Midterms

Bill McKibben knows a thing or two about overwhelming opposition.

McKibben is a scholar-in-residence at Vermont's Middlebury College (my first choice until they wait listed me!) and the author of the first book about climate change for a general audience, 1989's The End of Nature. In 2006, McKibben organized the largest protest against climate change in American history, and was apalled to learn that it was the largest in American history. All it was was him getting on the phone to call some friends, then getting together to walk across the state. THAT was the largest in history? So he launched 350.org, which has organized thousands of rallies in hundreds of countries in just two years, including 5,200 actions on just one organized day in 2009.

One electoral race McKibben has gotten involved with this cycle is VT-Gov. McKibben has endorsed Google executive and former state senator Matt Dunne, and climate isn't even the central tenant of Matt's campaign (that would be jobs). Matt is currently in the middle of a massive fundraising drive, and needs just $34,855 more by Tuesday night to air his first TV ads. We need those ads - Vermont hasn't had a progressive Governor since Howard Dean.

McKibben is an international figure now, but cares enough about Matt's campaign - even though he'd never Matt before - to attend small house parties in the traditional New England style. Here's a video he recorded at such a party urging folks to support Matt so he can raise "enough money to be able to compete with the reeeeally rich guys... That doesn't require tons of money; it does require everybody doing their part."

Please watch, then donate at MyDD's ActBlue page. No, I'm not employed by the Dunne campaign - in fact, I'm unemployed, and yet I'm still donating to Matt. I believe in his message just that much. Below the fold, McKibben's original endorsement, a much higher-quality video.

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Meet Matt Dunne – The Issues

On Wednesday, I introduced you to Matt Dunne. Vermont hasn’t had a progressive Governor since Howard Dean, and Matt’s background makes him the right candidate first for the race and then for the job. Wednesday’s post described his career in technology, dedication to service, and legislative accomplishments. Please support him at ActBlue – absentee ballots have already been mailed out and his first commercial is ready to go on TV, so he needs our support now.

While Matt’s background makes him the candidate who can win, it’s the issues that make him the candidate who should win. He is focusing his campaign on jobs and economic development, and his environmental advocacy has gained national attention. I’ll go into detail about those two issues, but know that his website also offers plans on health care, agriculture, education, civil rights, women’s rights, and government transparency.

Dunne’s top economic priority is bringing broadband Internet to Vermont, which has perhaps the lowest penetration rate of any state. That means Vermont falls further and further behind as the country’s economy moves online. A letter in the Rutland Herald said the author heard “a Windham County businessman [tell Matt] that the day high-speed Internet comes to the town of Dover he’ll hire 15 people.” Matt’s background as an executive with a local software company and now with Google makes him the right person to get this done. In a recent interview with the AP, picked up by MSNBC, he expanded on this vision of economy-by-technology:

"We need to, and I believe have an opportunity to, go from one of the lowest broadband penetration states in the country to the first state that brings fiber-optic high-speed Internet to every home in the state," Dunne said in an interview. "And that's an incredible opportunity for us to move from a state that's not thought of as being a technological center to being a technological center."…

Deploying broadband and improving cell phone service statewide are keys to other issues on which Dunne is focusing his campaign. He wants to streamline and improve education through greater use of distance learning… On energy, Dunne thinks "smart metering," which can tell electric customers moment-to-moment how much power they're using, combined with Vermonters' famed frugality, will enable the state to shave megawatts off its power demand…

"I've heard from business people in the state of Vermont that they have difficulty recruiting engineers, because when they recruit engineers even from the University of Vermont, that engineer finds out that the home they could afford as a first home as a young engineer doesn't have broadband, they go someplace else. When they find out they don't have cell (phone) reception, even at their place of work, they choose to go someplace else."

More below the fold, including a video from climate hero Bill McKibben.

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Obama: Time for Rangel to go

The two Blue Dogs who have called for Charlie Rangel's resignation got a big boost today. A really big boost.

President Barack Obama gave ethics-embattled Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel a forceful shove towards the exit tonight, telling the 80-year-old dean of New York’s congressional delegation that the time has come to end his career “with dignity.” ...

After days of administration officials dodging questions about Rangel, Obama took on the issue with devastating bluntness in a interview with Harry Smith of the CBS “Early Show” – repeatedly referring to Rangel, who backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary, in the past tense.

“I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served-- his constituents very well but these-- allegations are very troubling,” th epresidrnt [sic] told Smith, in an interviewed aired Friday night on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

“And he'll-- he's somebody who's at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I'm sure that-- what he wants is to be able to-- end his career with dignity. And my hope is that-- it happens,” he added.

This comes across more as a call for Rangel to make a deal that includes retirement than for him to resign.

Sweet.

Nelson will not vote for Elena Kagan

Senator Ben Nelson, who gets his jollies pretending to be a Democrat, just announced that he will NOT vote for Elena Kagan. Apparently he believes that only judges should be nominated to the Supreme Court, never mind that over a third of past justices have not been judges, including the first four Chief Justices: John Jay, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall. Too antiquated, you say? Then how about modern Chief Justices Earl Warren or WILLIAM REHNQUIST?

At least Nelson says he won't filibuster. His statement over at First Read:

“As a member of the bipartisan ‘Gang of 14,’ I will follow our agreement that judicial nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances. If a cloture vote is held on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am prepared to vote for cloture and oppose a filibuster because, in my view, this nominee deserves an up or down vote in the Senate.

“However, I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan’s nomination.”

Ben Nelson will do anything to appear "independent," even if it means forever flushing logic, truth, and dare I say integrity down the toilet. He is the worst lawmaker in the United States Senate. He is harmful to America and harmful to the citizens of Nebraska. Just yesterday I sent him a letter that used the word "Pbbbbbbbbtttttthhhhhhhh" in response to his announcement that he will do whatever it takes to bring down Nebraska agriculture and vote against climate legislation. Remember also that although he did vote for the final product, Nelson filibustered the first attempt to pass cloture on financial reform, and that he is the reason it took so long to pass an extension of unemployment benefits. Forget the word progressive, and forget the phrase Blue Dog - this man is not even a Democrat.

And of course he would announce this on a Friday afternoon, just as everyone is checking out for the weekend. Cowardly slime ball.

Let's end this post on a related but lighter note: Republican Judd Gregg did announce that he will vote for Kagan. At least that's nice. Thank you, Senator Gregg, along with Senators Graham, Lugar, Collins, and Snowe, for putting country ahead of party, unlike so many of your colleagues.

New Pete Seeger song about BP

Pete Seeger became famous as one of Woody Guthrie's best friends, a black-listed folk singer fighting for workers' and civil rights and against war and nuclear weapons. He's spent his more recent decades as an environmentalist, devoting his energies to cleaning up the Hudson River and teaching children about music. Although he's now 91 years old and losing his voice, here's a new song from Pete Seeger about the BP oil spill. The best part about the song is that it's not negative, either - it's a very upbeat, inspirational message focused on moving forward and getting the job done.

"When drill, baby, drill / Turns to spill, baby spill / God's counting on me / God's counting on you!"

Seeger is one of my heroes, and seeing him sing with Bruce Springsteen at the 2009 inaugural concert will remain one of the highlights of my life. A big, big h/t to Andrew Revkin for this video.

MSNBC or CNN should launch a show about science policy

Inspired by a radio interview I heard earlier today, I ran a quick Google search and found this 2008 nugget from Wired magazine:

The Project for Excellence in Journalism just released The State of the News Media 2008, its annual analysis of cable television news. The mediascape proved barren: On average, five hours of viewing would yield 71 minutes of politics, 26 minutes of crime, 12 minutes of disasters and 10 minutes of celebrities. Science, technology, health and the environment received just six minutes of coverage (with health and health care accounting for half of that.)

Think about that: for every five hours of cable news one watched in 2007, viewers say just three minutes of science, technology, and the environment, three things that underlie literally every single aspect of our lives. And what this report doesn't point out is that much of what we do hear about science comes from non-science reporters - why should I trust a reporter whose field of expertise is the national political process or the local school board to suddenly grasp the details of peer-reviewed data?

It seems that every time an MSNBC substitute host gains a slight following, they get their own show. Rachel Maddow, David Shuster, Dylan Ratigan, and now Lawrence O’Donnell. The next time MSNBC has a whole in its lineup, instead of turning to a personality, it should turn to a subject. Or maybe CNN could replace Larry King with an actual news show, not another celebrity-fest.

I’m not very good at science. Both my parents are geologists, and yet my lowest grade in college was in rocks for jocks. But I do know the scientific method when I see it, and I do understand the importance of science in my daily life. Just this week I’ve seen local news stories about toxic chemicals used in retail receipts and a debate over putting fluoride in municipal water. From the air we breathe to the way our children’s food is processed, there’s no escaping science. So before debating science policy, responsible journalists should make sure their viewers actually understand the science rather than the political talking points. Let’s move the science from destination websites only insiders visit to a venue people are already watching anyway – like cable news.

The new show should come from scientists and science journalists who reach conclusions after making their observations, not pundits who observe only what will affirm their existing beliefs. The host should refuse to ever interview politicians unless they a) are scientists themselves (there are four Congressmen with PhDs in physics or chemistry); b) are on for less than five minutes for the sole purpose of describing the contents of a bill they’ve introduced; or c) are being held accountable for attacking science, like when the Bush administration censored NASA and the EPA over climate change.

The whole point of such a show would be to communicate with voters and lay persons, so it shouldn’t be too wonky. 

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A good campaign strategy in TX-Gov

Bill White, the popular former Mayor of Houston, seems to be running a pretty good strategy as the Democratic nominee for Governor of Texas. He and his campaign are hammering incumbent Rick Perry for corruption and failed policies in press releases and interviews, but their new TV ad is a positive one focusing on White. This should help drive a narrative about Perry and get the facts out to reporters while still allowing White to give voters the positive campaign they want.

PPP has the race tied up at 43, and you can help White win this impressive prize (Governor of Texas in a census year!) at our ActBlue page.

Here’s White’s new ad called “San Antonio.”

The campaign is also touting the endorsements of 23 sheriffs who “represent about 50 percent of Texans and 99 percent of Texans who live in counties that touch the border with Mexico.”

But on the quieter attack side, here’s a July 27 press release hitting the ten-year incumbent for his corrupt land deals.

We learned for the first time this week that the buyer of Perry's plot of land was business partners with the person who sold it to Perry through an intermediary. The timeline of this scandal clearly shows that Perry coordinated with two business partners to flip land, buying way under value from one partner and then selling it way over value to the other business partner. In total, Rick Perry coordinated with the business partners for ill-gotten gains totaling about $500,000.

In 2000 and 2001, the land buy was arranged by Doug Jaffe, who sold Perry a plot of land through an intermediary for a whopping $150,000 less than it was worth.

In 2007, the land sale was arranged by Ron Mitchell, an trusted associate of Doug Jaffe, during a time when the property was off the market. Mitchell found a willing buyer in a business partner of Doug Jaffe. Mitchell then negotiated a price for Perry with Jaffe's partner, a price a whopping $350,000 over market value.

Mitchell's real estate firm waived the typical 6% fee for Perry, amounting to a $70,000 gift that was never reported by Perry on personal financial disclosure statements. When Mitchell was asked by the DMN whether they would have waived the fee if it was someone other than Perry, Mitchell laughed and said, "We're here to make money.” …

Perry is refusing to release the public listing agreement, had previously hidden the identity of the land buyer and had hidden the fact that the buyer was a business partner with the original seller.

Other Perry scandals include what the White campaign is calling “cash for appointments and cash for favors."

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