Thursday, November 16, 2006

Run-Off In LA-02: TIme To Get Rid of William Jefferson

You may remember Rep. William Jefferson. You know, the guy who was the target of a 14-month public corruption probe, was videotaped accepting $100,000 from a Northern Virginia investor who was wearing an FBI wire, and in whose D.C. home the FBI found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers. That guy.

Well, Jefferson is in a run-off for his Congressional seat against progressive Democrat Karen Carter. The progressive netroots, led by SwingStateProject, MyDD, and DailyKos, has endorsed Carter in an effort to show the country that Democrats will not tolerate corruption no matter the offender's party affiliation. We at the Angry Progressives are happy to add our endorsement, and urge you to visit ActBlue and donate to Karen's run-off campaign.

In a very neat venture, MyDD has raised money to send Tim Tagaris of the Lamont campaign to New Orleans to blog about this race.

"A progressive Democrat, Karen Carter, is challenging him, and we've already endorsed her. But there are two other important themes that Tim is going to cover when he's down there. One is race, which is inescapable in Louisiana and in this election. The second is Katrina, which is also inescapable in this election. We are committed to progressive change and to a progressive agenda. A post-Katrina New Orleans is the domestic symbol of the conservative movement. Not only did underinvestment in a poor and largely black city lead to a devastating disaster, but the promises of the Republican Congress and Bush, the promises they made in our names as American citizens, the promises to rebuild the city, these are promises that we have not kept. Tim is going to New Orleans to remind us of the compact we have as citizens, and as a country. He's going to cover an election because that is how our political dialogue takes place."

This run-off is an opportunity to show America that Democrats mean business.

Increase In the Minimum Wage an Early Benefit of Democratic Takeover

As we noted in our post-election breakdown, the Democrats takeover of both the House and Senate was not the only thing to celebrate on November 7. Six states also passed minimum wage laws ballot measures on that eventful day.

However, an increase in the federal minimum wage law is still necessary, and Democrats have made it clear that they will be wasting no time getting moving on that issue when the take control in January. This is a progressive idea that we've been behind since the beginning of this site, and we're incredibly happy that it's going to get done.

Although Bush will most likely have to go along with this, we will no doubt hear some moaning from "pro-business" groups about how an increase in the minimum wage will actually hurt workers. Unfortunately for them, this theory has been disproven in the past, and even the WSJ has had to admit, albeit begrudgingly, that a minimum wage increase isn't the bogeyman it's made out to be by those on the right.

As the Democrats begin to assert themselves and their newfound power, there are other issues that are bound to be more contentious than this one. However, increasing the minimum wage is an important first step in the progressive movement's push to make America a better place for everybody.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Scaredy Cats: Bennett, Hannity and Medved

Man, AM radio sure does suck (this is much better), but when you are driving a car that doesn't have satellite radio and the music on FM already sucks, you might be curious to turn on all those "great" conservative talk programs on AM - especially since they have plenty of material to talk about since they were beaten by Dems. That is exactly what happened to me over the past few days and I just wanted to share with you what you hear (aka "the garbage") from the likes of Bennett, Hannity and Medved (other than the rare dissenting opinion):
  • Be scared of Democrats and their policies
  • Be scared of Progressives and their policies
  • Be scared of Liberals and their policies
    Too bad that nothing could be further from the truth! We should all be getting involved in this new Congress who could actually get something done.

As for the conservative commentators and radio personalities, the funniest thing is that we heard the same stuff before the election, but their warnings did not work then and they won't now (they just can't think of anything else to say and accept reality).

Whether it is Michael Medved in his "I'm the only conservative in Seattle" rantings, the disguised quiet ramblings of Bill Bennett or the complete angry hate-trash that comes from Hannity, they all want to scare you into believing their ideology, but it is too little too late. Yes, with Rush added in and the many others (Dr. Laura as the Oprah of conservatives), a few daily listens can turn into comedy like they did for me. However, in the end, I am inspired - if all it takes to be on AM radio as a political show host is to make up lies, not listen to the other side, preach hate and try to scare conservatives away from reality then we should have an answer to that. Luckily, we do have a great answer (and many more), but could certainly use even more. I encourage any of you to get on your local radio, tv or even create a web site with podcasts so that you can preach the exact opposite of what the Conservative Scaredy Cats do!

Republican Party On the Verge of Extinction Outside the South

While the Democratic Party recorded gains all over the map last Tuesday, they were most pronounced in the Northeast, Midwest, and Western parts of the country. Notably, however, Republicans managed to moderate their losses in the South.

While that fact may have saved the GOP from being an even smaller minority in the near term, they should see it as no cause for celebration. As the AP notes, The Republican Party has become almost extinct in the Northeast, suffering the loss of moderate members in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Although a few moderate Republicans like Chris Shays in Connecticut and Olympia Snowe in Maine survived the Wave of 2006, when they retire they are likely to be replaced by Democrats. And in New York State, the GOP is wondering how much longer is can hold out before being completely wiped out. The Republican Party is now "the party of Dixie."

Thomas F. Schaller of Salon wonders if the Democrats aren't better off taking a different approach to the South. Not ignoring it altogether, but putting it behind other regions in priority. Schaller notes that certain areas of the South, such as North Carolina's Research Triangle and Northern Virginia, present opportunities for Democrats. However:

"Over four decades, by fits and starts, the Republicans captured the South. With the ballast and votes that capture provided, the GOP emerged as the national majority party from the top of the ballot to the bottom by 2000. Democrats did not want to write off the region that had been their historic heartland. It had always held the key to political power, since the party that controlled the region had typically dominated national politics. The importance of the South seemed accentuated by the shift of population and House seats and electoral votes to the region at the expense of the Northeast and the Rust Belt. Democrats felt they had to run to the right, à la Harold Ford, in order to compete in the region, and they felt they had to compete in the region to run the country.

Yet the GOP's majorities were thin. Bush won in 2000 despite losing the popular vote. The Senate majority that was just voted out of office represented fewer Americans than did the Democratic minority. Gerrymandering has exaggerated Republican shares in the national and state legislatures beyond their underlying support.

In short, Republicans have squeezed every last vote out of their mostly white, largely Southern, highly divisive, screw-the-coasts national strategy. First the South turned Republicans; now the Republicans have turned Southern. Their identity is becoming more and more bound to a philosophy and a region. Last week was the first sign that the electoral accountants are knocking on the door, asking to see the GOP's receipts.

Democrats, meanwhile, now have a great opportunity to build a national majority. They need to continue consolidating their control over the coasts, turn the purple Midwest blue, and pick off selected seats in the West. The 2006 midterms were a big step in that direction. Democrats flipped about 30 percent of the GOP-held House seats in the Northeast, about 15 percent in the Midwest, and 10 percent in the Far West. In the South, their "flip rate" was just 6 percent. After last week, Connecticut's Chris Shays is the only Republican among New England's 22 seats."

The Democratic Party has a chance to confine the GOP to the South and a select few, underpopulated conservative states such as Utah. Their message largely does not resonate outside of the South, where race, evangelism, and the absence of strong unions combine to keep the GOP the dominant party. In 2008 and beyond, if played right, the Democrats can further isolate the Republican Party and truly build a national party that represents almost the entire country.

Alternative Energy News - November 14, 2006

  • Shell president concedes global warming debate.

  • Environmentally conscious utility customers in Vermont can pay an extra $20 a month to get their electricity from manure-fueled generators. Vermont is a leader in a new alternative energy movement to get states to produce 25% of their power from farms and forests by 2025.

  • With new ethanol and biodiesel plants going online monthly and increasing demand for the homegrown fuel additives, transportation companies are scurrying to provide the needed trains, trucks and storage tanks to keep up with the rapidly growing industry.

  • New energy-efficiency standards for 22 appliances will be set over the next 4 1/2 years under an agreement settling a lawsuit brought against the Energy Department by the Natural Resources Defense Council, consumer groups and 15 states.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some Recount Updates

In Wyoming, tomorrow is the deadline for the official certification of the vote. In the unofficial count, Republican Barbara Cubin leads Democrat Gary Trauner by 970 votes. If, in the canvassing of the votes for certification Trauner picks up just 38 votes, an automatic recount kicks in. If those 38 votes aren't found, he is unlikely to ask for a recount. Given potential problems with voting machines and absentee ballots, Democrats believe it is likely that Trauner will pick up the necessary 38 votes.

In Washington's 8th District, Democrat Darcy Burner trails by only a few hundred votes, with literally thousands of votes, mostly from Democratic-leaning areas, yet to be counted. As Daniel Kirkdorffer notes, there's miles to go before this one is over, but there's definitely hope for Burner.

Alternative Energy News - November 13, 2006

  • Wal-Mart says it has reviewed early results of various projects at its experimental "green" stores located in McKinney, Texas, and Aurora, Colorado, after one year of operation and is applying new learnings to other Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs.

  • The Ontario Power Authority says there's great potential for solar power in the province.

  • Green Mountain Energy Company is offering a web-based product designed to educate consumers and give them a simple way to take immediate action to offset their carbon footprint, fight climate change and global warming -

  • Lennar recently announced a partnership with PowerLight Corporation and Roseville Electric to build the nation’s largest solar community.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Repeat After Me: This Was a Progressive Victory, Not a Conservative One

Despite the fact that American voters on November 7 repudiated the Bush Administration's radical right-wing conservative agenda, voting in Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, those in the media continue to insist that it was a victory for conservatives. Sounds crazy, right?

Well, tell that to Fox News, who says that the new members of Congress, though overwhelmingly Democratic, are actually conservative. Now, no one should be surprised that the Republican Propaganda Network would attempt to spin a complete domination of the GOP into some sort of victory. That's just how they roll. But Fox isn't alone in this strange attempt to spin the progressive victory away. The Washington Post, in its lead article about the election, claimed (without citing any examples) that America is "nation that leans slightly right of center." An interesting take, given that, as Media Matters notes, "the vast majority of policy proposals and issue positions backed by most national Democratic leaders enjoys the support of at least a plurality of Americans:
  • Raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997: The current federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour means that a person working five days a week, 52 weeks a year would earn a mere $10,712 a year. Republicans have refused to raise the minimum wage without including massive tax breaks for the rich. According to a recent Gallup poll (subscription required), 86 percent of Americans would approve of such an increase of the minimum wage.
  • Extend health coverage to the uninsured: Gallup found that 79 percent would approve of such legislation.
  • Allow the purchase of imported prescription drugs, which are often cheaper: According to Gallup, 72 percent of Americans would approve.
  • Implement the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission: According to Gallup, 62 percent of Americans would approve. "

Media Matters documents other examples of the media's attempted spin, and, equally importantly, refutes these bogus claims by noting that the new Democratic members of Congress in fact agree on a core set of progressive issues. For instance, meet the new Senator from Montana, "Conservative" Jon Tester.

So don't believe Gamblin' Bill Bennett, that fat-ass drug addict Limbaugh, or anyone else trying to make believe that a Democratic takeover is somehow a victory for conservatism. Instead, celebrate a victory for progressives, and a great new day for America.

A Look Back

Obviously, the midterm elections on Tuesday were a huge success for progressives and the Democratic Party. Here are some highlights:
  • Democrats picked up 29 Congressional seats, and the majority in the House, with 9 races still in recount mode.
  • Democrats won 6 seats, and the majority, in the Senate. Democrats now obviously control both houses of Congress, and with that the ability to set the legislative agenda for at least the next 2 years.
  • Progressive candidates won across the country yesterday, and with their victories came some historic firsts for the U.S. government. Nancy Pelosi will be the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. For the first time, three African-Americans — Charlie Rangel (NY), John Conyers (MI), and Bennie Thompson (MS) — will serve simultaneously as House committee chairmen. With Claire McCaskill’s Senate victory in Missouri, a record number of women (15) will now serve in the U.S. Senate. Governor-elect Deval Patrick (MA) became the first black governor elected in Massachussetts and the second African-American to ever be elected governor in the nation.
  • Voters in six states - Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio - approved proposals that raise their state's minimum wage and tie it to changes in inflation.
  • In other ballot measures across the country, voters defended abortion rights in South Dakota, endorsed stem cell research in Missouri, and, in a national first, rejected a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona.
  • Voters in Rhode Island passed a constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to people who have been convicted of a felony, and who are now out of prison, but still on probation or parole.
  • Finally, Jon Stewart and Howard Dean celebrate on The Daily Show.

In the coming days, we'll be discussing, among other things, those yet-to-be-decided races, the media's reaction to the Democratic thumpin', and the opportunities ahead for progressives, the Democratic Party, and the country itself.

Alternative Energy News - November 12, 2006

  • Some 58 new geothermal energy projects are now under development in the US, according to a survey by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) - the industry trade group.
  • The governor of Illinois is mulling whether the state should help build a pipeline to combat global warming by carrying greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from planned clean coal plants to aging oilfields.
  • Warehouses and distribution centers might not come to mind as examples of buildings constructed with energy-efficient "green" features. But that is what's coming, according to an executive with ProLogis, a global company active in the midstate warehouse market that is incorporating more green features in its buildings.
  • A coalition of college and university presidents and academic leaders has called upon American institutions of higher learning to commit to renewable energy by greening their campuses, investing in the industry and teaching future generations about renewable energy.
  • Hawaiian Electric Co. is considering using 99 percent biodiesel to fuel its new 100-megawatt power station planned for Campbell Industrial Park in 2009. The decision is a major shift for HECO, which said earlier this year it intended to use 50 percent ethanol and 50 percent fossil fuels for the plant.
  • For the first time since the current version of Prius went on sale in October 2003, there are enough to fill customer demand.
  • By a vote of 4-1, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted on October 31 to expand the state's renewable portfolio standard to 15% by 2025, with 30% of that to come from distributed generation technologies.