Tag Archive: Environmentalism

Why the Dems Lost Middle America and Might Never Win Again

Friends, this past election cycle was a devastating one for Democrats nation-wide. Really, we got trounced. Our butts were handed to us. The numbers speak for themselves. From the poor counties of rural Kansas to the stark plains of Texas, from the coal country communities of Kentucky to the streets of Harrisburg PA, we got crushed. So to my East and West coast Democrats who are wondering why – why people to whom it would seem opposition to Republicans and their policies would be a fundamental part of life, would possibly carry them to victory – you need to understand the new math in town. It’s been creeping up on us for a while, but now it’s arrived. It’s Energy – fossil fuel energy, to be precise.

For Boomers and Millennials here on the East Coast, we’ve been taught two overarching, nearly sacred ideas when it comes to Fossil Fuel energy. The first, and this has been ‘drilled’ in our brains since elementary school, is that we’re running out. We’re running out of Oil and Gas globally, nationally, and locally. The Second, of a more recent cast, is that Fossil Fuels are rapidly turning the Earth into a nearly uninhabitable, apocalyptic planet. Now here’s the interesting part: I’m not going to comment on the veracity of either assumption. That’s not what this short blog is about. It’s about how any Democrat worth his or her weight doesn’t stand a snail’s chance of winning any electoral race, from Senate to Dog Catcher, in any Midwestern state, Alaska or Texas if he/she strolls in and discusses carbon tax, carbon emission limitations, or declaring war on “Big Oil.”

America is a big country, and there is a new truth in the land. It’s a truth that is now as much of a factor in our economy as the automobile industry was in the 1950’s, or whale oil a century before that. America is on the cusp of becoming the world’s foremost producer and exporter of fossil fuels and related products. America is no longer some huge version of Industrial England. It’s becoming, economically speaking, a gigantic, colossal version of Saudi Arabia.

The Oil and Gas are not running out. No, to the contrary, they are bursting from our lands, being extracted by entirely new and arguably destructive technologies and methods. And this factor, coupled with the reality of a booming, energy-hungry South and East Asia, will potentially bring in an unprecedented amount of wealth to some of the poorest parts of our nation, an event not seen in over a century. The people of Bismarck, North Dakota and Louisville, Kentucky know this well. They see the changes in town. The new construction. The $20/hr wages at Walmart. They see jobs, jobs, jobs. And localities and counties see revenue, revenue, revenue.

Here in Depression-plagued New Jersey we don’t see these changes. We don’t venture into our nation’s interior much these days. We prefer to fly over it on our journeys west to California and beyond. But ignoring it won’t make it go away.

So, fellow Democrats and environmentalists, keep attending your public viewings of movies like “An Inconvenient Truth.” Keep watching your documentaries on how the Earth is slowly transforming into another version of the hothouse that is Venus. Continue to write your blogs that stipulate that if we continue to consume fossil fuels at the present rate, entire nations will find themselves submerged by the sea within the next few decades. You may be right; you probably are right. And that approach will win you accolades in our universities, it will win you new friends on the streets of Manhattan and San Francisco; it will win you standing ovations in the United Nations. But from now on, it won’t win you elections in most parts of the United States. No way.

Remembering Ella Filippone

“…the river is a toxic disgrace that needs to be cleaned up. ‘It’s government at its worst,’ she said.”New York Times, July 12, 2009

I’m going to get right to the point here. That’s how Ella would have wanted it.

Ella Filippone was one tough broad, not afraid to take on anyone. You either loved her, or hated her. It’s that simple. And Ella honestly didn’t care.

Love her or hate her, there are few people who would argue the fact that New Jersey’s environmental community lost a bold, brash, and tireless advocate with her death on Friday, June 21, 2013.

Ella was a friend and a mentor to me, as she was for so many others during her 43 years as the Passaic River Coalition’s Executive Director.

My relationship with Ella didn’t start that way. We’re both very headstrong and opinionated people, and when we first met, I’m not sure she knew what to think of me. But over time, as we worked side by side on Highlands issues and projects and she cautiously assessed my character and motives, Ella took a liking to me. If you gained acceptance into her circle of trusted associates, you had no greater friend than Ella.

LoBiondo’s Credible Challenger

One notable news story that happened during the Andrews announcement and subsequent Lautenberg-Andrews fallout was that a somewhat unknown, but possibly formidable, opponent emerged at the last moment for Frank LoBiondo in NJ-02. David Kurkowski, a Cape May councilman, has made a late bid for LoBiondo’s congressional seat, and Democrats are clearing the slate for him to go mano-a-mano with the person who once pledged a six-term limit, then reneged. Kurkowsi has deep roots in Cape May, judging from his resume, his company, and his personal webpage, and he credits his environmental and preservation efforts as councilman as some of his best accomplishments:

In Cape May, Kurkowski has been a strong supporter of saving the historic Beach Theatre, refurbishing the Washington Street Mall, building a new convention center and getting wireless Internet.

In his first comments to the Press of Atlantic City, Kurkowski lays out a general strategy for the November election:


“I’m committed to peace and prosperity. I believe the wartime economy has had a tragic effect on our country. I lay a lot of blame on LoBiondo and his support of Bush and the war. I will be attacking him on many issues,”

This will work if voters pay close attention to LoBiondo’s actual stand and record on Iraq, stem cell research, and immigration – and if independent publications like Blue Jersey pick up the slack and force the press and papers to cover LoBiondo’s problematic record, as with what happened, for example when Blue Jersey began covering LoBiondo’s role in the Deepwater scandal in 2006.

Cumberland County, and other NJ-02 counties such as Atlantic Co., have cleared their party lines for Kurkowski, and CC Chair Lou Magazzu, who once ran unsuccessfully against LoBiondo, seems to be an unofficial advisor to Kurkowski. The two other candidates, Viola Thomas-Hughes, who ran a spirited, but resource-deficient, campaign in 2006, and another candidate, Bridgeton schoolteacher Celeste Riley, have both apparently cleared the way for Kurkowski.

Blue Jersey: You’re Voting Andrews, and Here’s Why

Before mentioning why I consider Rob Andrews to be a superior candidate to Frank Lautenberg for our U.S. senate seat, I first want to emphasize that, no matter what happens, we would be privileged to have either one of these persons serving us in Washington and that Democratic unity, after this primary war, is paramount.

But, Blue Jersey, I am compelled to vote for Rob Andrews for U.S. senate and do everything possible to ensure his victory in the June primary, and my conviction about Andrews’ qualities is firm. First, Blue Jersey is about the anti-Democratic establishment, and we’ve forced the establishment leftward in their legislation and candidate choices (Zeitz, etc.). Though I admire the Party’s strength, it is detrimental to the concept of democratic choice to have one standard-bearer (Lautenberg) serve in the senate for decades while the rest of the candidates wait decades to run against the “Old Boys’ Club” of the New Jersey Democratic establishment. Andrews is taking on this establishment mentality head-on and forcing Lautenberg to defend his right to serve in the U.S. senate; surely, this is a good thing and will only further the idea that the senate slot shouldn’t be decided by party insiders in the hierarchy.

Holy Crap! Schundler Agrees with Tammany!

From the Jersey Journal‘s Ken Thorbourne, we get this:

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy is being shortsighted in championing a warehouse for the banks of the Hackensack River in Jersey City, former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler told The Jersey Journal last week.


Schundler, who favors using the land for open space, called the warehouse a “low-value investment” that would ultimately stymie the development of the city’s western coast.

Now, I don’t want to say I told you so, but the archives are right there for anyone to peruse.  Healy wants to totally destroy the West Side with truck traffic in the promise of a few dozen jobs.  Doing so will only sink the area further into urban blight.  The County is in the process of building a nine-hole public golf course on the land adjacent to it.  Is there any better way to scuttle the financial success of the endeavor than to have 200 trucks idling diesel soot for golfers to suck deep into their lungs?