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September 24, 2005

The Democratic Party must be destroyed

On occasion over the last five years, as the Democratic Party implodes, I have pointed to my Representative George Miller as an example of a Democrat who does things right.

I won't be doing that again.

In the most recent and largely ignored attempt by Representative Richard Pombo (R-Isengard) to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, one of the crowning achievements of the environmental movement, Miller has turned out to be one of Pombo's best allies. ESPN has the wire service version:

"There is a recognition that the current critical habitat arrangement doesn't work, for a whole host of reasons," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., a leading liberal voice on the House Resources Committee. "There are some in the environmental community who think the answer is just no to any change, and I think that's a problem."

Read: Pombo wants to amputate your healthy leg at the hip. Miller, as a compromise, suggests taking it off only at the knee, and derides you as unconstructive for saying you want your leg left alone.

Miller, having helped Pombo steer a rewrite through the committee, is utterly shocked that Pombo has jettisoned some unspecified mitigations of his destruction:

Miller and other Democrats said that without substantial amendments, they still can't support a bill by Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., that's set for a committee vote Thursday. Pombo's bill is a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Endangered Species Act that would delete the federal government's ability to protect "critical habitat" for plants and animals and require compensation for landowners if the government blocks their development plans to protect certain species. Landowners could move forward with development projects that might affect species after notifying the federal government, unless the government objects within 90 days.

This, incidentally, is a sidelong misrepresentation of the Critical Habitat provisions of the ESA. (When a species is declared as Endangered under federal law, the Fish and Wildlife Service is legally obliged to declare some part of its habitat "Critical Habitat," namely those places of which preservation is essential if the species is to recover. Here's a description of what Critical Habitat declarations actually mean:

"There appear to be public misperceptions that designation results in binding restrictions on private lands. In fact, designation forces consideration of all aspects of the habitat needs of a species and generates guidance to landowners, but has not been interpreted as authorizing direct regulation. ... Section 7 ofthe ESA (16 U.S.C. § 1536) requires each federal agency to insure that any action authorized, funded, or carned out by the agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or "result in the destruction or adverse modification of.. " critical habitat. (Emphasis added.) If an action is likely to jeopardize or result in adverse modification of critical habitat, the agency must consult with the FWS (or the National Marine Fisheries Service if the Secretary of Commerce is the responsible Secretary).

In English: if you're not working for a Federal agency or receiving funding from one, there is no law requiring you to pay attention to Critical Habitat designations.

Critical Habitat designations have no effect - zero - on the vast majority of private landowners.

ESPN continues:

"Pombo, a conservative rancher,"

Pombo owns a ranch. I don't think he's set foot on it in years. His family's money comes from buying ranches and subdividing them into suburban sprawl for moderate-income Bay Area commuters. Every aspect of his policy - from gutting ESA to advocating new freeways through wilderness areas - has to do with what would make his family wealthier. Rancher, my ass. anyway:

"...contends the Endangered Species Act causes lawsuits and conflicts with landowners while failing to do enough for species. He notes that a tiny percentage of the 1,830 species listed under the act - about 15 - have come off the list because they've recovered; supporters counter that only nine listed species have gone extinct."

And, of course, it's the fault of the ESA that slimeball developers and "ranchers" and their federal employees have fought its implementation and expansion at every turn, cut funding to wildlife agencies, refused to carry out the legally mandated provisions of the Act, and introduced repeated laws - such as the odious Habitat Conservation Plans - to undermine the intent of ESA in a climate of rampant exploitation of every last acre.

ESPN again:

But Democrats and environmentalists who were willing to say goodbye to critical habitat wanted Pombo to propose stronger language in other parts of the bill in exchange. Instead they say he erased critical habitat without including other mechanisms to protect species' homes.

And so one of the last pieces of law that offers even the slightest protection of endangered species in a minority of cases, and with no effect on the vast majority of property owners is to be traded off for unspecified "other methods of protection." Because the Critical Habitat provision, apparently, is not weak enough.

How, exactly, Representative Miller, is one to protect a species without its god damn habitat?

Here's a little indication of how badly wrong Democrats such as Miller have gone on ESA, and a final indication that the Democratic Party is simply not to be relied on when it comes to protecting the environment. ESPN again:

Even some supporters say the designation of critical habitat where development is limited is driven by lawsuits, leading to bad decisions. Critics cite the proposal to list 4.1 million acres in California - parts of 28 of the state's 58 counties - as habitat for the red-legged frog.

Here's the thing. The critics are right that the Critical Habitat process is dysfunctional and lawsuit driven. But the "lawsuit-driven" part is a symptom of the dysfunctionality, and it's only there because the Federal government has continually refused to enforce the law. I happen to know the people behind the lawsuit to force a Critical Habitat declaration for the red-legged frog. As is the case for a lot of other species, the Interior Department was sued over the red-legged frog because the Fish and Wildlife Service refused to declare Critical Habitat for the frog despite a legal obligation to do so.

The Interior Secretary when the suit was filed? Bruce Babbit. You might remember him. He was a Clinton appointee. He was a Democrat.

Sadly, Miller's stupid, destructive blundering represents in this case the best of Democratic environmental policy. The Democratic mainstream is more likely represented by Dennis Cardoza, Representative in California's 18th District who worked closely with Pombo to craft the current attack on ESA.

The environment needs politicians who will fight for it. I thought Miller was one such politician. I was mistaken. Ironically enough, now that the Democrats have destroyed yet another opportunity to do, well, anything right, there is a politician who may offer an obstacle to Pombo's gutting of the ESA. The last paragraph in the ESPN story:

Even if it passes the House, the bill could have trouble in the Senate. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., a moderate who chairs an Environment and Public Works subcommittee, is holding hearings and considering introducing a bill. Spokesman Stephen Hourahan said the senator has concerns about Pombo's critical habitat provision.

I'm not holding my breath. But anyone who holds to the idea that the best way to protect the environment is to elect Democrats is, at this point, completely delusional.

The Democratic Party must be destroyed. If we are to survive with any shred of the things we seek to protect, we have to create an actual opposition party. I don't really care whether that actual opposition is called "Democratic Party" or not. Build the new in the shell of the old if you think that's the best way to go about it. But it cannot be the same party we now watch as they fumble every opportunity to do something, anything at all to stem the tide of destruction.

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Comments

This has been my feeling for a long time; glad to hear you say so in your own strong voice. Much as I admire certains aspects of the Howard Deans and Clintons, etc, they are still deeply entrenched in the political establishment, beholden to a hoard of special interests, and unable to break with the people who got them into power. Until we face the fact that the system is rotten to its core, there will never be significant change. But to do that we will also have to change the perception that third parties are terrible and that all they accomplish is splitting the vote to the detriment of the Democrats. That requires a much longer view than most people - including progressives - are willing to entertain(I don't think the self-proclaimed "liberals" even go there.)In the meantime we have to keep trying to hold the Democratic feet to the fire. I'd love to see the Democratic Party change and actually stand strongly for something again, but I've totally lost my hope that that can happen.

Posted by: beth at September 24, 2005 12:35 PM
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This won't surprise you, but I agree 100% with everything you've written here. And I consider myself fairly DLC.

Posted by: Roxanne at September 24, 2005 06:17 PM
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Good article, Chris. I have tried to figure out what my representitive, Anna Eshoo, thinks about all of this, but haven't found anything. In fact, I haven't seen a thing about her in the local media in months.

Posted by: Kevin at September 24, 2005 09:36 PM
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Chris, I recently took my own whack at the Dems, in an essay titled "Dear Democrats," at http://www.hankfox.com/DearDemocrats.htm

If you're interested, you might also look at the main page, www.HankFox.com , and scroll down to the Sept. 8 post introducing it.

"Everything bad happening in American politics right this moment is easily half the fault of the Democrats, in my opinion. The man on the street is trained to see things in black and white, red and blue, Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, but underlying that silly subterfuge is the reality that we're one nation, one people (but also 300 million individuals), and that these two political teams are fantasies just as much as Shirts and Skins were back in junior high school basketball games.

"What we have is ONE party of political power, and they play us off against each other to maintain their control. We buy into the 'Us vs. Them' game with total fascination, and fail to see that the leaders of these political parties live rich, safe, insular lives, far from the real concerns of ordinary people."

Posted by: Hank Fox at September 24, 2005 10:30 PM
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I’ve been thinking for a while now that the times resemble, somewhat, the 1850s. The country is divided over fundamental and all encompassing issues. Then it was the reaction to the War against Mexico, and both political parties’ support of it (Dems and Whigs). The next big issue to come up would be slavery. Politicians in the Whig party, who had cut their teeth, so to speak, by opposing the War (i.e. Abe Lincoln) began to see that the Whig Party did not have the stomach to oppose the South. And so the Republican Party was formed. And the opposing sides head to War.

It may be that will see a rerun of that dynamic. If so....its the Dem Party that will be doomed. But replaced by what? And lead by who? Where is our Abe Lincoln if you will? Jerry Springer? Al Franken? Warren Beatty? Oprah Winfery?

Where is the leadership to come from?

Posted by: jonst at September 25, 2005 05:48 AM
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This puts me in mind of this piece on Alas!.

I think a lot of people are feeling this way.

Posted by: Erin at September 25, 2005 03:52 PM
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Chris: you know how I feel.


Attack, attack, attack.

Posted by: Rana at September 25, 2005 05:13 PM
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Ah, precious animated and canceled TV series. So much they have to teach us...

Fry: These are the candidates? They sound like clones. [He looks a little harder.] Wait a minute. They are clones!

Leela: Don't let their identical DNA fool you. They differ on some key issues.

Johnson: I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far!

Jackson: And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

Posted by: norbizness at September 25, 2005 07:46 PM
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Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 25, 2005 07:48 PM
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On the other side of the coin, Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is my Representative, but he's considered so marginal and crazy that no one outside of Ohio seems to take him seriously. Even The Daily Show kept referring to Dennis, when he was running for President in 2004, as an elf, a gnome, and "Gollum gone Hair Club for Men."

Okay. That last one made me laugh.

Posted by: Lisa Cech at September 26, 2005 07:21 AM
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For some reason those criticisms of the ESA remind me of a bully demanding "why do you keep hitting yourself?"

Posted by: Jeremy Leader at September 26, 2005 11:40 PM
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Fantasy solution for the US government:
What we need is a revolution to abolish the senate and house, and go to a lawmaking system with one body. Most advanced nations by now have adopted the parliament type government that gives voice to minority groups and allows them at least a seat at the table. That would do away with the need for lobbyists who play both sides, because those people would already have a voice, and if they can't get elected on the merits of their cause, then they probably aren't reaching enough people.

Reality:
In my state we have Senator Arlen Spector a republican on the judicial committee which I voted for twice now because I knew the Dems in PA couldn't come up with anyone better for the nation. I'm now watching more closely the (fiscal) conservative ranks, looking for leaders that are not pulled around by their moral ideologies, but who look for solutions that are healthy for the economy.

What we need to do is convince these people that a healthy environment is good for the economy. Some groups have begun to do this, in Florida for example with the electric industry there, but they are thus far a small minority.

As a knowledgeable ecologist Chris, this is the area that you can do the most good. Get information together about the good things that come from proper management of our resources. It's not enough to just talk about the decay of our environmental policies, we need to change the approach, and prove that it is fiscally sound to do things in an environmentally protective way.

In the Gulf for example the need for re-seeding the coastline is now in discussion (maybe a day late and a dollar short- but still they are talking about it at least). We have to get on these issues, make alliances with the people in the side of the issue that have something to gain, and this environmental movement will be revived.

Posted by: Nanzar at September 28, 2005 08:49 AM
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As a knowledgeable ecologist Chris, this is the area that you can do the most good. Get information together about the good things that come from proper management of our resources.

I love it when people's first response to a political need involves other people doing more work.

That's what I do for a living, Nanzar. What are you doing? Politics is not a spectator sport.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 28, 2005 08:58 AM
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Chris- It a shame that most of the conservation news is problem based. That is point that I wanted to make. The movement needs to move toward finding opportunities for economic growth and protection that includes an ecological component.

I spent some time looking over the earth island website. Found this interesting new project in Nepal: (http://www.redpandaproject.org/index.html) which is working to create an economically sound project for the forest, the people, and the pandas. It was only started this year, so it will take some time to see if this approach will work there.

I would love to learn about more of this type of project and the successes they have brought to communities. If there was more of this news out there, then it would happen more often. But I do understand that pure grassroots organizations, with no obvious economic agenda, are still needed to get the word out there about what is needed.

You ask what I'm doing to save the planet and I have to admit, not much. I worked in a small wood shop for almost 20 years making furniture for the local market out of local resources. I doubt that put much of a dent into the worldwide over-consumption of the rain forest, or the transportation of manufacturing jobs overseas to countries that have abysmal levels of pollution.

But we couldn't sustain our little business in the face of the Wal-Mart price point. People want to buy cheap, so local manufacturing gets eaten up.

After that I worked as a stringer for a local newspaper for a few years and I got an education about local governance. I covered many a story about township ordinances that were put in place to discourage over-development and destruction of our natural world, and I have to say these guys in local offices are our unsung heroes. They really do try to balance the needs of the community with the pressure from big money. But they very often fail because there just isn't enough local interest in such things. People are worrying about the war, the red states, religion, and corruption in Washington, when they should be working to educate themselves about what is happening in their own backyards.

At this point if there was an issue in my back yard I would get involved. In the meantime I drive less, use less electricity, and recycle. (I'm out of the working world right now for health reasons, so I don't have money to donate to the many worthy causes.) If I could think of a way to help save the planet I would do it. For now, all I know to do is educate myself, and look for guys like you to set me straight about what is really going on.

Posted by: Nanzar at September 29, 2005 10:46 AM
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Sorry to do this to your comments section, but FUCK the Rethuglicans right in the eye, and FUCK the DLC in the same.

I also work in this field, and I hoped (although did not count on it) that the Dems would have some cojones. The science supports recovery through critical habitat designations more than any other single factor...and yet science is ignored.

Welcome to the dark ages...

Posted by: Jacobo at September 29, 2005 05:52 PM
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Nanzar, please accept my apologies for being snippy. Sounds like you have done - and are doing- your share to make the world better. My hat's off to you.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 29, 2005 07:02 PM
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Either they are cluelss about how politics really works - a distinct possibility, there was an amusing sub-thread discussion on Making Light about how long various of the more "serious" of our career politicians would last, in ancient Rome - or they are suborned and only playing dumb.

If they have been in politics for so long, and are yet clueless, then they are incorrigible. They won't wake up until they're sent off to conservative reeducation camps, by which point it will be too late for all of us. If they are suborned, they are likewise incorrigible, if for a different reason.

Either way, they have to go. The only ones who are worthy of being kept on are, imo, John Conyers, Louise Slaughter, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, and possibly a few possibly-corrigible others. Feingold - wants to be president, and thus voted for Roberts; kowtowing to power running to the right to be perceived as "moderate." Obama - is a newbie, and wants to be liked by all, but may be able to be kept on course. The so-called "moderate" decent Republicans are at best whipped into submission, or totally self-deluded - assuming there is any shred of integrity left in all the power-worshipping - Snowe, Chaffee, Shays, Bass, McCain, probably a couple of others.

They're not going to be any help to us. People standing by wringing their hands as their bosses destroy the poor and start wars are, in my book, just as much those who stand idly by the blood of their neighbor as those who turn their backs on Rwandan refugees, or sweep the mysterious film of ash off their windowsills each morning...

Posted by: bellatrys at September 30, 2005 07:14 AM
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I think you are wildly out of touch about how politics work if you're angry at a politician who VOTED THE WAY YOU WANTED HIM TO.

Here's what you don't understand, since a parliamentary body can only consider a given issue one time in a session (in this case the 109th Congress) under standard parliamentary law. So an "amendment" can actually take the form of a substitute motion that is not friendly at all to the original motion under consideration. So if Pombo puts forth an amendment saying X, Y, and Z, one way to defeat it is to propose an amendment that says not X, not Y, and not Z. Of course, if the Dems had the votes, they could have simply voted Pombo's motion down. However, the House runs on strict majoritarian rules with few safeguards for the minority party. Thus, Miller was making a sound procedural attack by trying to cull enough Republican support to stop the lion's share of Pombo's bill from passing. He almost did it too, coming within ten votes of having his bill pass. Furthermore, the VAST MAJORITY of Dems voted for the Miller amendment and AGAINST POMBO'S BILL.

Dems like Dennis Cardoza and give us a lot of reasons to be pissed off with regard to their voted against the environment. I'd vote the traitor out in a heartbeat if it were up to me. And you can be sure that a lot of Democratic activists are pissed off by things like the Bankruptcy Bill that just passed with a lot of Democratic support. But honestly, do you homework before you lose your cool. Check out the legislation that Miller proposed [scroll down to when Miller gets recognized and introduces the amendment]. I've heard a lot of people say it actually was a good attempt at fixing some of the problems with the Endangered Species Act . Maybe it wasn't perfect, but if you want good environmental policies in the House, you got to re-elect Democrats to the majority.

I am no Yellow Dog Democrat. I was a Green until recently and have worked for an environmental non-profit. I believe partisanship ought not blind anyone to corruption and venality in the Democratic Party. But here I think you're wrong. At least, look at what Miller wrote and tell me it's not a hell of a lot better than what Pombo proposed, and then tell me that you think it's imperfections were not due to the need to get Republican support for it to pass. Then I'll grant you your anger.

Posted by: Matt at October 1, 2005 10:33 PM
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Sorry to post twice in a row. However I just found this on George Miller's website:


Like the Pombo legislation, the Miller-Boehlert legislation would remove the requirement under current law that the Secretary of the Interior must designate “critical habitat” areas for species recovery. But unlike the Pombo legislation, the Miller-Boehlert bill replaces this program with an effective conservation effort that will protect habitat necessary for species recovery. The Pombo bill leaves no meaningful recovery plan in effect after the removal of the critical habitat designation. Specifically, the Miller-Boehlert legislation would:

Use private lands to help threatened and endangered species recover to sustainable levels only if public lands – like national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges – are not adequate for recovery;

Dedicate resources to provide technical assistance and grants to private property owners – particularly small land owners – who help conserve species on or near their land; and,

Achieve better federal-state cooperation on decisions to list species as threatened or endangered or make changes to such lists, as well as achieving better cooperation on creating and implementing recovery plans.
The Miller-Boehlert substitute would eliminate the open-ended new entitlement that would be created by H.R. 3824, would make enforceable the recovery plans that H.R. 3824 relies on to protect species, would ensure that decisions are based on science, and would amend provisions in H.R. 3824 that the Congressional Research Service says would weaken the Endangered Species Act.

A number of sporting and conservation groups have already endorsed the Miller-Boehlert bill, including American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense, Izaak Walton League of America, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and Wilderness Society.

Posted by: Matt at October 1, 2005 10:50 PM
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Thanks for your comments, Matt.

But you're simply wrong here. Miller's amendment would have weakened ESA. He's been under pressure for years from a few rich farmers and developers in his district to weaken critical habitat protections. His bill was a cave-in to that pressure, plain and simple.

And politics as it is done does not require that a Dem give something up before the Republicans can take it away.

I've heard a lot of people say it actually was a good attempt at fixing some of the problems with the Endangered Species Act.

If by "fixing some of the problems with" you mean "gutting," then yes. Even the Pombo-friendly Tracy Press hailed Miller's amendment as a surprising move to the right.

Miller's bill would have eviscerated the Endangered Species Act. His statement on yesterday';s vote:

“There is broad agreement that the 1973 Endangered Species Act needs reform – both to ensure that more species’ populations recover to sustainable levels and to better address the concerns of private landowners.

He's caving in to a goddamned lie here.

Maybe it wasn't perfect, but if you want good environmental policies in the House, you got to re-elect Democrats to the majority.

That's an historically ignorant statement. I tracked environmental policy every single day during the Clinton administration. This is just more of the same. Democrats maintain the low standards Republicans set, and then the GOP lowers them further.

The Democrats have lost any justification they had to expect support from environmentalists.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at October 1, 2005 10:55 PM
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If Environmental Defense supports a proposal, that's reason to mistrust it.

Use private lands to help threatened and endangered species recover to sustainable levels only if public lands – like national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges – are not adequate for recovery;

This is a complete sellout of the Act. Miller's amendent is an anti-environmental proposal. Why should private landowners be exempt from the law of the land?

Miller caved in to twenty years of wise use pressure on the "takings" issue.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at October 1, 2005 11:00 PM
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Chris,

I appreciate your response, but I think you've missed the larger issue. You're fundamentally mistaking who's on offense and who's on defense. Getting mad at Miller would be like getting made at a cornerback for not scoring a touchdown. You're acting as if Miller could have moved the ball down the field, when the only chance he had to do anything positive was to work against and mitigate the excesses of Pombo's bill.

Put it this way, you would have been happy with Miller if he simply voted against Pombo's bill. So why would you be mad at him if, knowing that he could not vote Pombo's bill down, tried to present a compromise that would garner enough Republican support to pre-empt Pombo's bill? I think this quesiton is especially compelling when you consider the fact that Miller actually voted AGAINST Pombo's bill when all was said and done.

You act as if Miller's substitute motion represented his deepest and most ideologically pure view on the ESA. I think that you have no evidence that Miller would have proposed something like this absent Pombo's much worse bill. And you're invective aside, Pombo's bill is much worse.

You are upset about the change in Critical Habitat Designation, and you ought to be. But you're ignoring that Pombo's bill eliminated it without putting anything constructive in its place. Furthermore, Pombo's bill requires the Federal government to pay a land-owner full market value of her land if the ESA prevents her from from using the land in a certain way. Also, Pombo's bill allows the Secretary of the Interior, a political appointee, to judge what the best available science is. We know that a Bush Administration appointee won't have any problem declaring that the best available science tells us up is down and black is white, especially if some corporate whore--I mean"scientist"--put out a non-peer-reviewed study that says so.

Given this backdrop, Miller's bill was clearly superior. Sure he threw some conservatives a bone, but he had to in order to get enough Republican support to actually present a viable (that is, viable given the politics of the House) alternative. His amendment replaces the policy called "Critical Habitat Designation," which does NOT mean that there was no attention paid to important habitat issues. Think about it this way, a bill could completely end the "War on Drugs" while still attempting to deal with the underlying drug problem in America. You simply elide this distinction, as if the procedure named Critical Habitat Designation represented the apotheosis of the underlying policy concern, i.e. demarcating an area that is crucial for the species to inhabit if it is to survive and ensuring that the conditions in that area are appropriate for the survival of the species. Furthermore, Miller's bill would have taken out Pombo's mandate to compensate landowners the full market value of their property when the ESA prevented them from using it in a certain way. Lastly, Miller's amendment would have defined "best available science" in a way that we would understand, so as to prevent the Secretary of the Interior, or any other political hack, from capriciously and mendaciously labeling some quackery "best available science."

Importantly, nothing in Miller's bill exempts private landowners from government regulation. You simply misunderstand the conditional. It says, IF private lands are unnecessary, THEN we won't use them. I don't understand what's wrong with this policy in principle. Sure, we can imagine that someone would attempt to say that public land would be sufficient even when it wouldn't be. But the fact that we can imagine someone violating a rule doesn't mean that the rule as such is bad. As you mentioned, the Federal Government seems to be violating all sorts of ESA regulations these days, regulations you seem particularly committed to.

Lastly, something has been missing in your analysis, which is the relation between House and Senate versions of a bill. A lot of what Miller proposed would have been imperfect, but it would have provided a baseline against which the bill could be corrected in the a House-Senate conference committee. You don't seem to understand that the Senate is much less favorable to Pombo's bill and will probably pass a version that is not nearly as bad. Miller's bill, if it passed, would have taken some issues off the table in the House-Senate conference committee, thereby strengthening the hand of those who wanted to moderate it.


To be clear, I understand how you could deeply disagree with Miller, but I don't understand all the vitriol directed towards him and the Democratic Party. As you mentioned in the original post, Miller has been a pretty reliable ally in the past. I know it's maddening when the choice between the Democrats and the Republicans looks like the choice between weakness and evil, but I don't understand why weakness is a bigger sin for you than evil. Furthermore, you're proclaimed desire that the Democratic Party ought to be destroyed would, if fulfilled, only lead to strengthening the hand of Republicans. Obviously electing Democrats is not a guarantee that they will be the stalwart defenders of the environment you would have them be. But by taking your marbles and going home, by refusing to support the Democrats that are stalwart defenders of the environment, you simply embolden the very people who would poison the air and water, rape the land, and turn every environmental decision into a crass matter of profit.

Furthermore, you act as if every Democrat were a little Dennis Cardoza, ready to sell-out the environment to please his corporate masters. This is just wrong. Even a lot of otherwise moderate Democrats support good environmental policies. Note how few Democrats actually voted for Pombo's bill. Too many to be sure, but still not enough to be taken to represent the mainstream of the party.

And one vote by George Miller does not erase all the other good, strong votes he's made in support of the environment. You don't have to view his amendment as a victory, but view it for what it was, a tactical retreat, not a wholesale betrayal.

Posted by: Matt at October 2, 2005 11:19 AM
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