Blue America '14

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Progressive Leaders Have Started Endorsing Bernie Sanders

For Bernie to succeed as president, he's going to need support from Members of the Senate and the House. If he wins, there will be plenty of institutional Democratic support. Right now, we want to thank progressive incumbents and candidates with the courage to endorse him. It's just starting.

Friday evening Bernie Sanders will be speaking at the DeMeester Performance Center, an outdoor amphitheater that holds 7,000 people, in Tucson's Reid Park. He'll be introduced by the local congressman, Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group that Bernie founded in 1991. Wednesday, Grijalva became the first member of Congress to endorse Bernie's campaign. Friday he plans to make the case for how, in his words, "Bernie is the right leader to fight income inequality, protect our safety net and ensure every American has a stake in the future of our country."

Bernie is the first incumbent to have endorsed Bernie but several progressive candidates for Congress have already decided to bite the bullet and do the right thing. The first candidate to endorse Bernie was South Jersey reformer Alex Law, who's running against the corrupt, conservative Machine candidate, Donald Norcross. Back in August he told us that he was the only congressional candidate in New Jersey who had endorsed Bernie, explaining that "Bernie's thoughts on student loan reform, campaign finance reform, income inequality, raising the minimum wage, diplomacy over war, tax reform, and drug reform resonate deeply with me. His influence is apparent in my policy ideas." He reiterated last night, telling us that:

I am the only Democrat in New Jersey running for office that has endorsed Bernie because I share his progressive values. I share his conviction to address income inequality and to fight corruption in politics. Bernie Sanders is the only Democrat truly committed to addressing campaign finance reform not only in words but in action as he has not accepted Super-PAC support. Whether it's LGBTQ rights, student loan reform, Wall Street reform, drug/prison reform or other issues, Bernie has a vision I agree with. Bernie Sanders is the people's candidate, and I am proud to say I endorse him for President of the United States of America.

The second of Hillary's 3 home state-- Arkansas-- was the scene of the next Bernie endorsement and it came from Robbie Wilson, the congressional candidate in the Fayetteville area. "I take great satisfaction in the fact that I align with Senator Sanders on every issue," he told us. "Most importantly, I agree with the Senator on the subject of overturning Citizens United. There is no greater threat to the survival of the middle class, and no darker bruise on our political structure. Furthermore, this issue goes hand-in-hand with the likelihood that we will need to appoint Supreme Court Justices over the next two presidential terms, and the idea that a Republican President and Congress would steer those appointments is almost too much to bear. Senator Sanders and I also share the same stance on the issues of women’s rights, foreign policy and economics, among others. But in a broader sense, we both believe that our government was intended to benefit all Americans, not to hold down the many in order to appease a few. This is a fundamental theme that is woven throughout the fabric of my platform, and I’m proud to say Senator Sanders reflects these same values."

And the 4th candidate to endorse Bernie-- and this was also Wednesday-- was Tom Guild, running for the Oklahoma City seat. "Bernie Sanders and I are in agreement on the vast majority of the major issues facing America," he said. "He has raised millions of dollars from grassroots activists in small amounts. He is drawing huge and sometimes unprecedented crowds wherever he goes. There are other good and able presidential candidates running in 2016. Bernie is the best of the best. He is the best hope to turn around our country and to fix the broken campaign finance system, address income inequality, reduce mounting college student debt, increase Social Security benefits, protect Medicare, repair our nation’s tattered infrastructure, support public education, raise the wages for American workers, and effectively deal with other pressing matters. America feels the Bern! I support and endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States."

Goal Thermometer

Blue America is thrilled that the support from progressives has started coming in and we started a special Act Blue page just for Members of Congress and candidates for Congress endorsing Bernie.

Most Democrats love Bernie's platform and his ideas for making America a more equitable place to love. Even if he's elected, he's going to need supporters in Congress on the same page. We know Grijalva and the whole Progressive Caucus will be there for him but Bernie is going to have Republicans, Blue Dogs and the Wall Street-owned New Dems to contend with, which is why it is so crucial to elect progressives like Alex Law, Robbie Wilson and Tom Guild. Please contribute what you can to these candidates.

And this week, Blue America is going to give away an extremely rare RIAA-certified platinum award for the Friends soundtrack. This was the first-even TV series to win a platinum record (for a million sales) and it included songs by The Rembrandts, REM, Joni Mitchell, the Barenaked Ladies, Lou Reed, kd lang, Paul Westerberg, the Pretenders and the other musicians that contributed songs to the show.

As a way of thanking contributors, we'll randomly select on lucky "winner." There is no minimum-- anyone can win this by contributing on this page. In fact if you want the platinum award but find yourself strapped for cash, just send us a post card (pronto)-- Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027-- and let us know you want to win too and that you'll contribute some other time if you can.

Walls, Walls Between Us, and a Chance for Steely Dan History

Walls. Wasn’t the Republican hero Ronald Reagan famous for tearing down walls?  Now, another famous Republican would like to build his version of the Great Wall of China on America’s southern border. Competing for the spotlight and citing "legitimate concerns" about security at the Canadian border, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, before cutting and running, said he'd consider another wall up north. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not walls, but you could place them into the category of "giant moats."  They provide us with distance from the conflicts in Europe and Asia, a kind of "free security" courtesy of geography and plate tectonics.

Continents drift, collide and pile up against each other and make their own walls; and we give them names. Once Denali, then Mount McKinley, and then back to Denali-- to name just one artifact of continental collision in the news recently. People drift too, though a bit faster. They are fleeing wars, violent drug cartels, crushing poverty, radical and murderous extremists, intolerance and oppression. The drifting people are also given names; refugees, undocumented immigrants, migrants, illegals, aliens and wetbacks. Some Republicans would call them rapists, criminals and anchor babies.

What does it mean to progressives that Mr. Trump leads the Republican field? I expect that we are not surprised that many Republicans identify with his divisive and hate-filled message. What should surprise and alarm us is that 39% of voters today identify as Independents, up from 30% in 2004 according to the Pew Research Center.  Although 48% of those Independents lean Democratic and 39% of the Independents lean Republican, the overall increase in the number of Independents means that progressives and Democrats must do a much better job in helping the average voter to see compelling differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Is there something we can learn about America from the refugee and migrant crisis gripping Europe, Africa and the Middle East? The first lesson might be that it takes extraordinary circumstances for people to uproot and leave the familiar to travel hundreds of miles across deserts and open seas. How many people do you know who would willingly pay their last dollars to a Mexican "coyote" to be jammed into the back of a truck or a Libyan smuggler to board a crowded inflatable raft to cross the Mediterranean Sea?

The second lesson is that however tranquil and orderly America appears on most days, fear and deep resentment boil beneath the surface. Mr. Trump knows this. His immigrant attacks have adroitly tapped into a receptive audience. Progressives see another pot boiling when we look at street protests in Ferguson and riots in Baltimore. That is a different pot of poor people, largely African American, who don’t see a place set for them at the American table.

Progressives should worry that people struggling for a small slice of the American pie know instinctively that the Democrats care for them more than a party obsessed with keeping taxes low for America’s top 1%. But they doubt the Democrats can actually deliver with a job and the other things they need. Many who we think should be Democrats believe that Republicans have the skill to manage government and create growth and opportunities.

Progressives have heart and progressive ideas are smart. We know it, but we’ll only win when we convince Independents that progressives care about them, we’re not in the pocket of big business, we know how to govern better, and that our ideas make sense and will get working families ahead.

Joseline Peña-Melnyk is a progressive with heart and smarts. She’s the true progressive running for Maryland’s 4th congressional dstrict to replace Donna Edwards. Born in the Caribbean and fluent in Spanish, she is equally at home with the district’s growing Latino population and its longstanding African American majority. She preaches unity, not division.

She’s a doer. As a former prosecutor and defense lawyer, Joseline saw that minorities are over-represented in prison. Thanks to her, a new Maryland law taking effect soon will help remove bias by requiring police line-up administrators to be ‘blind’-- that is, the administrator will not know the identity of the suspect or, if he knows the identity of the suspect, the administrator should not know which line-up member is being viewed by the eyewitness. Research shows that in lineups today eyewitnesses often take cues from the line-up administrator and feel pressure to make a selection. The result of her law should be fewer wrongful convictions and more confidence in the justice system. 

Progressives can be practical too. Joseline led Maryland into the adoption of digital medical records. With doctors sharing a database of patient information there are fewer mistakes, fewer duplicative tests, and less unnecessary expensive care. When a constituent came to her with a family tragedy-- the suicide of a teenage daughter, Joseline was the motivator behind "Lauryn’s Law" to ensure that school counselors have training in recognizing teen suicide risk factors.

Immigrant students with limited English language skills were failing in Maryland schools. Only 55% percent of these students graduate high school, as compared to 77% of the general population. Joseline worked closely with the schools administrations to establish two new high school programs funded in part with $3 million in seed money from a Carnegie Corporation grant to target this achievement gap. She did it because we all win if the next generation is prepared to take their place in our society.

In Congress Joseline will continue pushing smart progressive ideas. She’ll support creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s failing roads, bridges and sewer and water systems; she’ll keep fighting for affordable education; and she’ll keep protecting the civil rights of the people on the margins and working to get them a bigger piece of the pie.

Please help get Joseline Peña-Melnyk in Congress where she belongs through your Blue America contribution and maybe you'll luck out and win a very special and very rare Steely Dan platinum album award as a bonus. Rolling Stone has called Steely Dan-- Walter Becker and Donald Fagen-- "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."  Maybe that’s like Reagan being the anti-hero to Trump. I don’t know, but Steely Dan is a complex blend of jazz and rock that is simultaneously intellectually challenging and spiritually, emotionally and physically uplifting. The band sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The particular platinum record we’ll be giving away to one lucky randomly-selected contributor is a super rare collector's edition for Two Against Nature that commemorates RIAA platinum sales certification (1,000,000 albums) and 4 Grammy Awards in 2001-- including Album of the Year. Only a few were made for the band and their associates. This particular one was awarded to Blue America co-founder Howie Klein, then president of Reprise Record, now a devoted Joseline supporter. You can help her win a crowded primary and take a chance on a memorable piece of music history.

The "contest rules" are simple. Just contribute any amount to Joseline Peña-Melnyk's campaign on this page. We're not Republicans so the winner isn't the person who contributes the most. Any amount goes. In fact, if you don't have any cash to spare at the moment and want a chance to win anyway, just send us a post card to Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as anyone else. But do it quickly. The contest is over next Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time.

Lou Vince Brings the Uptown Funk! (yes, it's a contest)

Before moving to Arizona, Lee Rogers, last cycle's progressive Democratic candidate in CA-25 (Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles), worked with local Democratic clubs and progressive activists to find a candidate who could win the newly blue district. The locals were excited about Agua Dulce councilman Lou Vince, a former marine and ex-L.A. police officer.

If you think all former marines and ex-L.A. police officers are conservative, you haven't met Lou Vince, a dedicated progressive, and not just on the easy issues. "The banks that were too big to fail are even bigger now," he told us this week. "We need to re-implement the Glass-Steagall Act so that Wall Street can't gamble with Main Street's money. It's not right that Wall Street caused the Great Recession, didn't face any penalties, and is now richer than ever. We need to send a cop to Congress to keep Wall Street in line and put handcuffs on the bankers if necessary."

This week, Blue America is trying to help Lou raise campaign funds. Bruno Mars signed a guitar for us to give away as a thank you for one randomly-selected Lou Vince contributor. The autographed Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a one-of-a-kind that Bruno, a Hawaiian Jewish Puerto Rican superstar signed specifically for this giveaway. So far he has won 2 Grammy awards and has sold over 100 million singles and albums.

Unlike the Tea Party Republican incumbent Steve Knight or the conservaDem also trying to run, Lou Vince is committed to doing something of Climate Change which he calls "one of the most pressing issues of our time. I am undoubtedly the most committed to protecting and safeguarding our environment to ensure our children and grandchildren have a sustainable future. The nation needs to follow California's lead and seriously tackle climate change on the federal level."

The fundraiser will end next Sunday when we select one lucky winner. It doesn't matter how much you contribute, just that you do.

In fact, if you're strapped for cash and can't give, just send a post card to Blue America PAC at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027, and let us know that you want a chance to win the guitar too.

Bao Nguyen: GOP Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Despicable

With Loretta Sanchez running for the U.S. Senate, Orange County's 46th congressional district is will be an open seat in 2016. It's a solidly blue district (D+9) and Obama won it with 59% in 2008 and with 61% in 2012. The district includes Santa Ana, Anaheim and Orange and the voters are overwhelmingly Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans. Although there may be as many as 10 Democrats interested in running,

Blue America has endorsed the most progressive of the lot, Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, an openly gay Vietnamese immigrant who arrived in this country when he was just three months old. I asked him when he made of the anti-immigrant mania sweeping the Republican presidential race. This is what he had to say.

As an American immigrant it disgusts me when I hear how Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the other Republican Presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants. It’s despicable, and disgraceful. Immigrants are the backbone of this country. They built this country and continue to add to it in so many ways. I was born in a refugee camp, and came to this country when I was three months old. We didn’t have much-- let’s be honest, we were just poor. But we found a welcoming and supportive community of all nationalities and backgrounds, and with help and hard work, I was able to build a life here in California. But my story is no different from that of millions of immigrants who came to America in search of a better life-- who knew they needed to work hard and play by the rules in order to get a fair shot at the American Dream. We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our immigrant neighbors, and we need to bring everyone out of the shadows, so they can be full participants in the American Dream.
But instead, Trump and the rest of the GOP Primary Clown car have started to bang the drums of fear and hate to alienate and divide our nation and it's CITIZENS. As the discourse has gone more and more into the gutter, even the relatively ‘moderate’ GOP candidates have joined this chorus of hate. You may have heard the derogatory term "anchor babies" returning again, as it has in past debates about immigrations. Sadly, Republicans have resorted to an age old tactic to galvanize the extremist fringe of their party, by calling for stricter crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, primarily from Latin America, who they claim are trying to take advantage of America's policy of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.
Recently the party favorite, Jeb Bush was criticized for using the term "anchor babies" during a conservative radio interview. Governor Jeb Bush has doubled down, telling reporters that he does not believe the term is offensive. "Nothing about what I've said should be viewed as derogatory towards immigrants at all," he said Monday in McAllen, Texas. "I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit."
I just want to restate, an "anchor baby" is a term to used to define an undocumented immigrant, coming to America with the intention having a baby specifically to take advantage of the Constitution-- it IS a disgusting and derogatory term, period. 

Bush clarified further, saying that he used the term "anchor babies" specifically to refer to fraud in a "specific targeted kind of case" involving mothers who travel to the U.S. only to win citizenship for their unborn children.
"Frankly, it's more Asian people."
I know that Jeb is just trying to back track his xenophobic statement and not lose the elusive Latino demographic his party hopes to gain in the general election. Let me give some clear and direct advice, all Americans, no mater if their ancestors came from, Latin America, Western Europe, and yes Americans of Asian descent, find your divisive rhetoric abhorrent-- no matter which group of people you are slinging mud at for your own political gains. This is exactly why we need to bring  more people to Washington who can tell the story of the very people that Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are trying to silence. I hope you will support me in my campaign to be that voice.

Bao, who is trilingual in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, earned a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and while attending college, interned for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also holds a master’s degree in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has a certification in mediation from the Dispute Resolution Program of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He will offer a unique and valuable perspective on Capitol Hill. When we asked him about the Iran deal, he told us he would vote for it. "From what I have seen this is the only option on the table that keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and at the same time keeps American lives out of harms way. If this deal fails there are fewer non-military options since the international sanctions that were in place are no longer available to us. Frankly, I am disappointed with Republicans who only continue with their policy of opposing anything supported by Obama with no response to what they would do other than sending more Americans to war in the Middle East."

Please consider helping him get his grassroots campaign into position to win this race. One thing I can assure you about Bao-- he will never be a wishy-washy Democrat. He's a fighter and, truth be told, reminds me in some ways of a  young Alan Grayson!

3 More Days Left In Our Ice-T Gold Record Fundraiser For Alex Law

Blue America is at the tail end of a fundraising effort on behalf of Alex Law, the progressive Democrat running against South Jersey Machine incumbent Donald Norcross, brother of notoriously corrupt party boss, George Norcross. Since being installed in Congress by his brother in 2014-- after the corrupt old Machine hack was driven out by scandal-- Norcross has been a dependable vote for many of John Boehner's worst policies. His first vote in Congress was for the Keystone XL Pipeline. And after an AIPAC-funded trip to Israel he returned to Cherry Hill in his district with GOP warmonger Tom MacArthur  in tow  to announce he would vote with the Republicans against the Iran agreement.

Alex Law, the first Democratic congressional candidate anywhere in the country to endorse Bernie Sanders, is as different as a Democrat could be from Norcross. He backs the Iran deal, opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline and is all about helping ordinary middle class Jerseyites fulfill their legitimate aspirations while taking on the big money special interests that call the shots for the the Norcross brothers.

Blue America will thank one randomly selected donor to Alex's campaign on this page by sending them a rare, collectible RIAA-certified gold record for Ice-T's album, O.G., Original Gangster. Ice-T, a resident of New Jersey, is now best known as an actor but in the '90s he was an inspirational rapper who was an early incarnation of what is now called the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

In Alex's own words, "the #BlackLivesMatter movement is something that expresses the continued frustration around the idea that some people in our society exist under different rules than other people. This is the same kind of frustration that Ice-T's music expressed 25 years ago. I am working to do everything I can to find real solutions to these problems such as unfair drug policy, income inequality, and education disparity. I think we need to legalize marijuana, as it is one of the biggest tools used by over-zealous police forces to imprison young African-American males at a rate astronomically higher than young white males. I think we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour so that people can work at a livable wage. I think we need to make college more affordable for everyone, so that in America, everyone, not just the privileged, have the opportunity to better themselves. The frustrations expressed by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Ice-T are incredibly real and the problems are daunting. But, I am going to work as hard as I can to help." 

Any contribution for Alex Law's grassroots campaign on our Blue America ActBlue page that comes in before Sunday night at 9PM will make the donor eligible for the thank you gift from Blue America.

As Alex told us last week, "I am running against Donald Norcross in next year's primary because he represents the worst in American politics: catering to special interests, machine political corruption, and voting with the Republicans constantly despite his Democratic district. We are lean and we are grassroots, but ultimately, we will win this election."  

Let's help him do just that.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.