Blue America '16

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Turning Orange County Blue-- AND Progressive

SamJammal.jpgSam Jammal: "We aren't training people for the jobs of the future. Washington is focused on protecting the old and powerful industries, instead of investing in what's new and next. This hurts workers and our economy while lining the pockets of those who benefit from the status quo... This is our country too and we can’t continue to have a government that is out of touch and unresponsive to what people are actually going through. This is why I am running.”

The DCCC has now admitted that they are recruiting Blue Dogs to run for congressional seats all across the country. Along with New Dems and "ex"-Republicans, this is what makes up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Congress and what prevents Democrats from moving ahead with-- or even running on-- a popular progressive platform. Instead of promising Medicare-For-All, a $15 minimum wage, free state college education and other motivating proposals, last week the DCCC came up with a recycled, anodyne Papa John's Pizza marketing slogan: "Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Wages." Sure, that's something everyone can agree with-- even Blue Dogs-- but... why not "Mother and Apple Pie" instead?

The DCCC has recruited a conservative multimillionaire as their candidate in northeast Orange County (CA-39), Ed Royce's district. And the guy is an "ex"-Republican living in a $10 million mansion on the beach 2 districts away! His only "qualification" is having won $266 million in the lottery and spreading some of it around to Democrats in Congress.

The real tragedy in that there's a fantastic progressive Democrat who was born and raised in the district, Sam Jammal, also running. Of all the Orange County districts held by Republicans that Hillary won in 2016, CA-39 had the biggest margin-- 51.5% to 42.9%. The DCCC has never contested the seat before and is completely clueless about how to go about it. So... of course a rich "ex"-Republican self-funder is where they turn instead of to someone who lives and breathes an inspiring agenda of progressive policies geared towards the district itself.

While the DCCC-backed character is running around the Beltway meeting lobbyists and writing checks in return for endorsements, Jammal is knocking on every door and talking with people in the district about single payer healthcare, the environment-- after a job in the Obama administration, he worked at Tesla as a policy director for their solar equipment provider-- and how to create new jobs in a rapidly changing economy.

This is what he told us last week when we talked with him about what made him decide to give up his job at Tesla and run for Congress.

There is currently a huge disconnect between politics and real people struggling to get by and trying to get ahead. I saw it every day as a civil rights advocate and staffer. Politics today is more about who is lobbying or donating than the needs of the people I grew up with.

I used to come home to visit my family and friends in California and hear about the issues that are important to them that are virtually ignored by their representatives in DC. I recall only 3 politicians-- President Obama and Senators Warren and Sanders-- even uttering the words “student debt.” You never hear anyone talking about child care costs or even what the cost of owning a home is today. And let’s not forget that significant under investments on the basics-- good roads and schools-- have sent a message of disregard to so many Americans.

There aren’t enough people in DC who are connected with regular Americans who work hard and want the best for their families. People just want a shot at the American Dream.

I come from a working class family where I had to take on part-time jobs to pay for my volunteer work in politics. I waited tables in DC at night to make enough money to cover my room and board when I was an intern. I have thousands of dollars in student debt, not including the debt my parents took on to help their three children go to college. I could probably count on one hand people like me in Congress.

One of the main problems I saw is that there are few people like me-- people who come from working class backgrounds and are the first generation in their family to graduate from college.

DC is a playground for the rich and powerful and their children. There aren’t many people from working class families who can make the financial sacrifice to take an internship or low-paying entry-level position when they are burdened by student loans. Unfortunately, it creates an environment of a millionaire Congress, which means no one is looking out for the rest of us.

Even though Wall Street and Washington declared victory on the Great Recession, most families still haven't recovered. Seniors lost value in their 401(k) and pensions. Many have had to stay in the workforce longer or count on Social Security to barely make ends meet. The rest of us are still recovering whether because of credit downgrades, job loss or a slow job market that put many millennials behind preceding generations.

Please consider giving what you can to Sam Jammal's grassroots campaign. The "ex"-Republican self-funding lottery winner has hired every consultant he could get his hands on. The DCCC should stay neutral in this race and let the citizens of Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Hacienda Heights, Brea, La Habra, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar and Walnut decide who they want to be the Democratic Party nominee. People are catching on now that getting policy like Medicare-For-All, isn't about electing corporate Democrats, it's about electing progressive Democrats.



STUFF IT, Mitch. Same to the turtle you rode in on.

Another week in Trump's America and it just gets worse and worse. Everyone said that when the atrocity known as Trumpcare was barely passed in the House that we shouldn't worry. "They'll fix it in the Senate" they said. Well, they didn't. They tweaked it a little bit in some ways but overall they made it worse.

This week they're planning to vote on it and then skip town before anyone has a chance to chase them down the halls of congress holding pitchforks and torches. If they get that done when they return from the 4th of July break they may skip the usual conference committee to reconcile the two bills, quickly pass the very similar Senate version through the House and then get ready to play their roles as props in the the greatest show on earth: the Oval Office in which President Trump will bask in the glow of his greatest success so far --- enacting the cruelest piece of legislation in modern memory.

By all accounts that's Mitch McConnell's plan anyway. At this moment there are still a number of possible choke points. The so-called moderates who will have to face voters are nervous, but they're known for their cowardice so it's highly likely they will accept some superficial changes and then rush before the cameras to defend the lie that it's been substantially "improved" from being monstrous and evil to simply malevolent and brutal. Counting on them to stop this heinous disgrace of a "health care" bill is a fool's errand.

It's much better to look to the ruthless sadism of the far right and "libertarians" such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee. They are known for their refusal to take for an answer when offered the opportunity to rip holes in the safety net because they demand its total destruction all at once. Unfortunately, counting on them would require one more wingnut vote in the Senate, probably Ron Johnson from Wisconsin or Ted Cruz from Texas. Johnson is the most intellectually limited man in the chamber so it's a totally random shot with him. Cruz is well ... Cruz. He will be the hero who votes for it unless it won't pass anyway at which point he will join the "rebels" and pretend he was their leader.

If it does pass the Senate they will have to go home next week and face their constituents before a final vote. It's not going to be pretty. If you saw the appalling footage of the disabled protesters in front of Mitch McConnell's office being pulled out of their wheelchairs and dragged down the hall by police you know what it's going to look like. This is what it's come to.

The stark fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and virtually every member of the Republican congress are trying to pass a bill that will literally result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, bankruptcy for many more and suffering for millions. And why are they doing this? They want to get their hands on 800 billion dollars that funds Obamacare so that for the first time since 1986 they can give permanent tax cuts to the likes of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Because when you get down to it, that’s what all this is about.

The Democrats are unified in opposition, thank God. (As you well know that's not always a given ...) And activists around the country are gearing up for energetic protests over the next few weeks. We'll see what happens.

But if this week has shown us anything it's that it's vitally urgent that the Democrats take back the House in 2018. If the Democratic Senators can hold their seats and pick off a couple of Republicans all the better. But it's imperative that we stop Ryan and McConnell. They are so drunk with power, they are no trying to enact bills that will literally kill people with no other purpose than to pass out money to rich people.

You know what to do. If you can, over the next couple of weeks contact your Indivisible, Our Revolution, Move On or whatever groups with whom you are involved to find out where they are planning to protest in your area. Call your Republican Senators and congressional reps and remind them that lives are on the line.

Can you please donate to our Blue America candidates today, so they can get the word out that help is on the way?. We simply have got to stop these obsessed, bloodthirsty Republicans and their cretinous imbecile of a leader before it's too late.



We Are Replacing Ryan This Cycle

This is an important week for the resistance. As you know, Tuesday is Election Day in GA-06, where a victory for Democrat Jon Ossoff will signal—- in the mass media— the beginning of the end for the Trump agenda.

If Ossoff wins in this “safe” deep red Georgia suburban district, Republican congressmen are likely to abandon Trump and Ryan with increasing impunity, jeopardizing passage of a generally hated series of legislative proposals that would mark the biggest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in American history. At this point, Ossoff is ahead. At this point, he doesn’t need any more money but your prayers and good thoughts are welcome— and if you know anyone in the area, a last minute phone call can do wonders.

But wait- please don’t put your wallet away just yet.

On the day before GA-06 ‘upgrades’ their representative, something really big is happening in Wisconsin. ‘Woke’ iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce, (@IronStache on Twitter) is officially declaring his candidacy for our country’s most important race this cycle:

WI-01 in southeast Wisconsin. That’s the swing district seat for which Paul Ryan has been granted an annual ‘free pass to reelection’ by the DCCC. That ends tomorrow— regardless of the DCCC and their bullshit.

Lucky for us, under Trump and Ryan no Republican is safe—- especially not in a swing district Obama won in his first time out. Recent polling shows that 51% of the voters in the district think it’s time for a change in representation. We suspect it’s even higher outside of WI-01. That’s why we’re helping Randy raise the funds he’ll need to reach every voter in the district to discuss the impact that ‘Lyin’ Ryan’s Austerity Plan has on constituents’ daily lives. It’s time to make Paul Ryan accountable for the direction he’s taken the Republican Party.

Hillary was the wrong candidate with the wrong message for this very blue collar district. Trump beat her by 10 points. Bernie won WI-01—- by a lot. And Randy, an elected Bernie convention delegate, is exactly the right candidate with the right message. He can make history—- regardless of what kind of shady deal Nancy Pelosi has cut, or the DCCC’s determination to ignore Wisconsin and allow Ryan another free pass.

A couple of days ago, Randy told us that “with Trump elected, what took place in Wisconsin [the Scott Walker era] has now been exported to the federal level. The people of Wisconsin have already seen how a single election can completely change an entire state. Americans are now seeing on a grand level what we saw on a smaller one. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are keeping people with bad ideas in office. Representatives are choosing their voters instead of the way it should be-- us choosing them. The glowing, fiery eye of Mordor has been relocated from Madison, Wisconsin to Washington D.C.”

It’s been ugly (ugly being a kind word).

Aside from the years spent in the U.S. Army, I’ve spent my entire life in southeastern Wisconsin. When Paul Ryan was first elected, even though we disagreed on just about every topic, he at least could be found. He came across as kind of a nice guy.

Then he came up with some horrible idea that we referred to as “Ryan Coupon Care.” He talked about “Takers vs. Makers.” He called African American males “lazy.” Something happened to Paul Ryan that was not good. He completely changed (aside from having the same bad ideas).

He forced his way into a soup kitchen for a photo op and began washing clean dishes. He refused to discuss jobs during a Labor Day parade.

He did however, get to be really talented in a few areas.

He could raise some serious cash. Lately, he has attended over 50 fund raisers raking in all kinds of cash. In that time, he has not held one town hall. He’s been so brazen about ignoring the constituency that news outlets cite “Breaking News” when he is seen in the area.

…We have so many opportunities ahead of us if we only refuse to give in to the fear that is being thrust onto us with the sole purpose of division.

All that working people want is to be heard. We want decisions made that will help us grow into better people. That doesn’t happen when we look for a scapegoat.

It doesn’t take a law degree or doctorate to be able to listen.

This country is already great. It is filled with great people of every shape and shade of humanity. The United States has more than enough for all of us. I don’t have a problem with rich or poor people. I have a problem with greedy people. All that we need to do is to realize that when we light someone else’s torch with our own, our torch doesn’t lose it’s light. It’s makes things brighter for all of us.

Paul Ryan exemplifies what is wrong with our Federal Government.

It’s well past time to repeal and replace the problem.

It’s time to have someone who WANTS to hear concerns and be part of the solution making decisions for us.

Our campaign is a joint effort that will be made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life who want to put the “united” back into “United States.”

Join us.

Blue America has already. We officially endorsed Randy Bryce for Congress today and we hope you’ll help us raise the money he needs for his campaign. It’s going to be a long haul, but Randy is a fighter, and the team he’s been meticulously putting together for the last several months are up for the challenge. Please consider contributing what you can here.



North Carolina Needs Our Help

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We want to make a different kind of case for our two progressive congressional candidates in North Carolina, Jenny Marshall-- who's opposing Virginia Foxx-- and Matt Coffay-- who's up against Freedom Caucus headman Mark Meadows. Normally we'd tell you about how extreme Foxx and Meadows are (and they sure are-- two of the very worst) and how awesome Jenny and Matt are (also a very accurate assessment). But today we want to make a special plea for the great state of North Carolina.

Our sisters and brothers in North Carolina are in deep trouble. As Michael Wines explained in the NY Times last week, the GOP has thrown away the rule book and is undermining democracy more overtly than any state in America ever has. The Supreme Court has ruled twice last month that the state's election laws are overtly racist and unconstitutional. The state's Republican leaders don't care what the Supreme Court says and "since November, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reclaimed the governor’s office from the incumbent Republican, Pat McCrory, Republicans have redoubled their efforts to keep the levers of state government and state courts in their control."

The state Republican Party is not concerned with the rule of law-- other than their own perverted and unconstitutional laws. “What we’re seeing in North Carolina is an effort at political entrenchment that is unparalleled,” said Allison Riggs, a senior staff lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham advocacy group that sued Republican leaders over the election law. “It requires a complete disregard for the will of the voters and political participation, and a disregard for the independence of the judiciary.”

A special session in December stripped the governor of most power to appoint state employees and university trustees, choose a cabinet without legislative approval and install majorities on state and local election boards. The latter move was stayed, pending a trial.

Now the legislators are taking aim at the state judicial system. In December, after voters elected a Democratic majority to the nominally nonpartisan State Supreme Court, the legislature expanded the jurisdiction of the Republican-led Court of Appeals and made the legal path toward other Supreme Court hearings more tortuous. Last month, Republicans voted to shrink the Court of Appeals by barring replacement of the next three retiring judges, denying Mr. Cooper a chance to nominate successors.

Foxx's and Meadows' districts are very gerrymandered and pretty red, respectively with PVIs of R+11 and R+13. Trump took 57.4% in Foxx's district and 63.2% in Meadows' district. But that had more to do with Hillary than with Republicanism. Bernie beat Hillary in Meadows' district and in every part of Foxx's district except Winston-Salem. These areas are looking for an authentic solution to the problems of working families.

Matt Coffay told us that "Last December, the Electoral Integrity Project-- which has monitored and scored elections in 153 countries-- ranked North Carolina's election integrity score at 58 out of 100. This places us alongside Cuba, Indonesia, and Sierra Leone. But when it comes to our voting districts, we received a 7/100 score. As the Charlotte News & Observer reported, 'North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.' The worst in the world. That's where North Carolina stands."

I have hope that the cases currently before the Supreme court-- from both Wisconsin and North Carolina-- alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering will be decided in such a way as to force a fair redrawing of our state's districts. But we have to keep talking about this issue, and keep fighting. When I'm elected to Congress, I intend to be a vocal critic of gerrymandering. Just like our broken campaign finance system, it dramatically endangers our democracy."

 

North Carolina Democrats have been fighting back and organizing, but they cannot do it alone. The political temperature there is on fire-- the people are hungry for the change Jenny and Matt's representation can bring. If possible, please consider making a donation to their campaigns today.



Winning Back A Blue Seat In California Takes A Progressive

"Let's create our own game-- one founded on the ideals of integrity, sustainability, cooperation and realizing the promise of self-government. It's not up to them-- we're the stewards of this democracy." --Katie Hill, Blue America '18 candidate in CA-25

Even the worst Democrats in Congress have caught on to the fact that railing against Trump is profitable. A case can be made that it is Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is responsible, at least as much as Putin or Comey, for installing Trump in the White House. And now she sends e-mails several times a week begging for money by robotically denigrating Trump. Being anti-Trump doesn't mean a politician backs a progressive agenda. Wasserman Schultz, who opposes John Conyers' Medicare-For-All Act, for example, and is still the poster gal for DC corruption, can be anti-Trump 'til the cows come home but that doesn't mean anyone in their right mind should back her against progressive primary challenger Tim Canova.

As you've probably noticed, effective and sincere Resistance Leaders in Congress-- people like Ted Lieu, Elizabeth Warren and Pramila Jayapal-- aren't just sending out fundraising emails for themselves; they've been putting together the foundations for what congressional resistance to Trump and Trumpism looks like. And every one of them has expressly acknowledged over and over that being against Trump isn't the be all and end all to the progressive agenda. It's become a key point Blue America talks about with the candidates we back.

Our newest endorsed candidate, Katie Hill, feels as strongly about it as we do. Her district-- a blue Southern California seat-- is held by knee-jerk, right-wing Republican Steve Knight, a proud TrumpCare supporter.

The district went convincingly for Hillary last year-- 50.3-43.6%. But while Hillary was winning by over 6 points, the DCCC-imported candidate lost by close to 10 points. Another perfect example of an utterly clueless DCCC big-footing into a primary in a district they don't know anything about. They spent about $3.5 million on their Beverly Hills attorney candidate and lost 54.2% to 45.8%. Reactionary Blue Dog Cheri Bustos, vice chair of the DCCC recruitment committee, wants him to run again. I'm sure Paul Ryan, Steve Knight and Kevin McCarthy do as well.

Blue America has just started raising money for Katie Hill today and we hope you'll help her with a contribution towards getting her message out to voters.

She penned the following guest post for us that goes to the heart of why it's so important for progressives to win congressional seats like CA-25. "Our nation stands at a crossroads," she began. "Do we continue down the same self-destructive path we’ve been walking for decades? Or do we blaze a new trail into the future?"

Moving Away From The Politics Of Fear 
-by Katie Hill

Donald Trump is not the problem. He’s the symptom of a damaged political consciousness in America.

Opposition politics have become the new normal. In 2010, Mitch McConnell declared the sole ambition of the Republican Party for “President Obama to be a one-term president.” While Democrats resisted the urge to give in to these schoolyard tactics at first, in 2016 they gave in and centered their entire campaign strategy around personal attacks on Donald Trump, rather than policy.

They played the fear card-- to much less effect-- and it lost. Big time. Which is why now is the time for us to move away from the politics of fear and into an affirmative political vision moving forward.

But what is our vision? We have a great, grassroots resistance that has emerged, but right now, all we’re doing is reacting to Trump’s every move. He is setting the agenda, maintaining the initiative, and we’re screaming on the sidelines.

It’s understandable. Trump is a disaster. He’s doing things that would have been unimaginable in any other time. He is putting our country at risk, going against our every value with every unhinged twitter outburst. We, of course, must resist.

But that’s not enough. We must be more than the anti-Trump party or we fail. Period.

It’s time for us to start screaming this from the rooftops. We can fight Trump at the same time, but we can’t stop looking ahead-- because the fate of our party and, quite frankly, our country, depends on it.

  • I, like most Americans on either side of the aisle, believe that our country isn’t broken, but our political system is. The extreme polarization of politics and gerrymandering have turned voters off. Consequently, people who are supposed to be representing all of us only truly represent a tiny minority of those still voting. We need to restore faith and trust in our government and that means enacting meaningful campaign finance reform. Supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United isn’t enough-- we need to elect people who are willing to regulate themselves as representatives and stand up to the people who hold the purse strings.
  • We must call this rigged system of crony capitalism what it is and do everything we can to address the ever-growing income inequality in America. Our economy gives big banks and big oil massive government subsidies while small businesses struggle to survive or fail. Our health care system bankrupts sick Americans so big pharma and insurance companies can make record profits. Our tax code allows Wall Street bankers and hedge funds, who just a decade ago destroyed the economy, to pay less than half the tax rate a middle-class family would pay. We need to put the system back to work for every American, not just a privileged few.
  • We need to tackle long-neglected social reforms, starting with healthcare. It’s not good enough to just save the ACA, we need to work tirelessly until we ensure that no American must choose between getting the health care they need and putting a roof over their heads. We must deal with the rising rates of mental health disorders and substance abuse, and ensure that we are providing effective, early intervention and treatment to people regardless of their ability to pay. We need massive criminal justice reform. We need to make sure that everyone-- no matter who they are or where they come from-- can afford college or trade school and not come out with a lifetime of debt. We need to address the housing affordability and homelessness crisis that is plaguing so many of our communities. The list goes on-- every one of these issues needs to be talked about, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.
  • We need to be pro-sustainability in every sense of the word. The future of labor goes hand in hand with a progressive, pro-environmental policy. Research shows the growing green economy creates more jobs per unit of energy than the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps one of the biggest perks of a renewable economy is these jobs cannot be shipped overseas. By installing and developing green infrastructure, we will create local and regional projects benefitting the communities nearby. Strengthening local projects and supporting green energy makes for a more sustainable planet, and a more sustainable economy.
  • Finally, it’s time we focused our energy and attention on the cooperative nature of life and governing in America. For far too long, politicians have tried to divide us with polarizing, partisan rhetoric. In the real world, we get things done as families, friends, neighbors and communities, without devolving into a mudslinging circus. Every single day, diverse Americans run businesses together, coach little league together, put on theater productions, run our school districts and cities, support each other, and keep our communities going. If we want to solve the countless problems facing our country right now, we must face them together.

It is time for a more affirmative political movement in our country. We’re not lacking the ideas, innovation or ingenuity; we’re lacking the political will.

Currently, the establishment is more vested in constant re-election campaigning and serving their corporate masters. That’s their game, but they can only play it if we allow them to. I hope you’ll join me on this journey because I know we can do this and we will make our government and our country better, together.




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