Progressive Veterans Running For Congress

Unless you live in his district, you probably never heard of Ohio teabagger Warren Davidson, the Trumpist nut who won Boehner's seat when GOP extremists forced their own Speaker out of office. Last week Butler County's Journal-News reported Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is to get the "moochers" out of it. "Part of the problem," he said, "is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system. And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders." A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars responded that "Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries, or who are indigent due to circumstances beyond their control, are not moochers."

If you feel, like we do, that the real moochers we have to worry about are careerist conservatives in Congress, please check out a new Blue America ActBlue page we just started to support progressive military veterans.

Recently Veterans For Bernie founder and National Director, Tyson Manker, announced his group's endorsement of U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, the Blue America-backed progressive running for the CA-49 seat (Orange and San Diego counties) that Darrell Issa operates out of.

"Colonel Applegate deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006," said Manker. "He shouldered the burden with the 2.5 million Americans who laced up their boots and headed down range after September 11th. I know the Colonel will ask the right questions and ensure we are only sending our forces overseas when it is the last choice, not our first option. Veterans swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic... We must elect Representatives with proven leadership. We must elect those that have the skills to reach across the aisle to end the paralysis that has brought our Congress to a stand-still. Colonel Applegate’s opponent, Darrell Issa (U.S. Army veteran), voted to authorize the Iraq war, voted to cut an increase to military benefits, and dismissed 9/11 as 'just a plane crash'. That is why we endorse our brother, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate to be the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional District."

I came away from my long interview with Doug Applegate with a feeling that part of why he's running for Congress is because he felt that 95% of Congress who never served in a combat zone, has sent our sons and daughters to endless wars without any real strategy since 9/11. He told me clearly that he knows we "can't kill our way out of the world’s problems." He has experienced the realities and trials of war and learned firsthand how decisions to use our military impacts our all-volunteer force and everyday Americans. An infantry officer and a military lawyer since 1980, Doug already understands and stands ready to provide the type of leadership Congress so sorely lacks. I asked him in which areas specifically he felt he could make a difference in Congress. He talked about Congress' being lacking in what he identified as “4 critical areas:”

  1. sexual assaults in the military
  2. defense contracting that wastes trillions of American taxpayer dollars
  3. restructuring of the Veteran Administration that is inadequate, underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-prepared
  4. renewable energy program repeatedly needed and requested by the Defense Department

Doug doesn't sound anything like Warren Davidson.

Neither does Tom Wakely, a Blue America-backed candidate in the Austin-San Antonio area of Texas (TX-21, a seat held by Trump-fanatic Lamar Smith). "Simply put," he told us this week, "I've always put my country before politics. It's not hard to do. Though I was a noncombatant, I signed up with the Air Force right after I graduated high school. I understood that when your country needs you, it's important to answer that call. Our country's in dire need of elected officials who understand the most basic concepts of duty and compassion. I'm ready to answer the call again in District 21." He got right into the issue that separates him immediately from Davidson, Smith and the other Trumpists-- support for the V.A. 

As a veteran, I receive all my healthcare through the VA. I've seen the lines. I've experienced the service (or lack thereof). We've come a long way in reforming the VA but we must go much further. Our veterans deserve so much better. I've met with many veterans across the district who are ready to see real change. The media is happy to cover the return of our troops from overseas but oftentimes once those same troops become veterans, they become afterthoughts. We must keep them in our hearts and minds if we're going to progress as a nation. It must be all of us, together. That's why I'll be urging Congress to provide for the VA to cover full vision and dental. What good are we as a nation to our veterans if they can't see or incur serious periodontal disease?  It's why I want to work with various veterans and medical policy institutes to develop a new comprehensive mental health program at the VA which focuses on behavioral therapy and counseling as the true first line of defense. I'm personally a believer that healthcare is a human right and as this country moves toward that direction, we can learn a lot from what we are able to do in the VA. All too often our veterans become over-prescribed and misunderstood.

Lamar Smith is always ready to send our troops into harm's way, but votes against raising combat pay and properly insulating our barracks abroad. Being pro-war doesn't grant you the mantle of being pro-vets, pro-troops, or even pro-country. That hasn't stopped Smith from claiming a right to all of the above despite a record that proves otherwise. I'm ready to tackle the issues veterans face because I live it. I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to answer that call.

Our candidate on the South Shore of Long Island (NY-02), DuWayne Gregory, is the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. A native Long Islander from a military family, DuWayne enlisted in the Army right out of college. He served as a lieutenant in the field artillery and he told us that his time in the Army taught him the importance of working together and refusing to back down in the face of any challenge-- lessons he brings to politics.

"My service in the military," he said, "was the greatest honor of my life. I saw great acts of bravery; I saw displays of courage and conviction. But I also saw firsthand issues that need to be addressed, such as men and women working over forty hours a week living in poverty.

I learned many important life lessons while serving in the military, the most important of which is the importance of leadership. Peter King's leadership has fallen short when it comes to important issues pertaining to our veterans. He and Congress have failed those in our military who are living on public assistance. They have failed when it comes to reforms in the VA. They have failed when it comes to the high unemployment rate for returning war veterans. I will use my military experience to lead on these issues and to demonstrate the commitment our veterans deserve. When there is a job to do, partisan politics shouldn't get in the way. I will provide the leadership that Congress needs to get the job done."

Please consider helping us make sure that when Congress considers military matters, not all the voices come from the far right, like Issa's and Davidson's. Let's make sure there are more progressives with military experience, like exemplary Blue America alumnus, Ted Lieu, in Congress.



Time For Some Real Talk

Friends, just 50 days out, it’s time for some real talk.

There is a very real possibility that this country is going to elect a white supremacist, nationalist demagogue as president of the United States. Yes, it makes no sense. One would think it's impossible. But after watching the media shit show unfold daily, it’s quite obvious that it can happen here. The polls right now are very, very tight.

If it does happen here, on the morning of November 9th we will wake up to a different world. Allies will understand they need to distance themselves from the US and rivals will feel emboldened. Trump's promise of a massive military buildup will be met by an equal build-up all around the planet. Other nations will logically see that the world's only superpower has gone rogue and the post war security regime that we have known for 60 years will probably fall apart all at once.

Even those of us who believe we should find a way to end the American imperial project cannot believe it is a good idea for it to end in chaos at the hands of a torture-loving nationalist who believes that any perceived ”disrespect" demands military action. 

Then there's The Wall, "Operation Wetback" Redux, banning of Muslims,"law and order" and more on top of his standard GOP policy atrocities, including plans to enact a massive tax cut on the wealthy and end virtually all government regulations, the list of which reads like a lobbyist's letter to Santa. He even proposed to end all food safety regulations

And yes, he's a climate change denier and will reject the Paris Climate accords and anything else that seeks to deal with a problem he believes is a hoax made up by China. And of course we know he is a documented racist, misogynist, nativist, xenophobic, anti-semite which is what millions of his most enthusiastic backers like best about him.  That's just for starters. 

And yet, with all that, right now he is tied with the mainstream, center left Democratic candidate who is running for President Obama's third term and has been endorsed by people as diverse as Elizabeth Warren to Warren Buffet to every union and . That is insane. 

Unfortunately, we have a problem within our own ranks: One third of voters 18-29 are planning to vote third party and that could easily make the difference. 

Bernie Sanders has something to say about that:

"Look, I was a third-party candidate. I began my career running as a third party, getting 2 percent and then 1 percent. I'm the longest serving independent in the history of the U.S. Congress, but I think that before you cast a protest vote, because [Hillary] Clinton or Trump will be president, think hard about it. This is not a governor's race. It's not a state legislative race. This is the presidency of the United States."

"If you are a working person, do you really think that billionaires need a large tax break? Which is what Trump is proposing. If you are an ordinary American who listens to science, do you think its a good idea that the President of the United States rejects science and says that climate change is a hoax? I think that if you look at the issues—raising minimum wage, building infrastructure, expanding healthcare—Clinton, by far, is the superior candidate."

It probably won't matter in big blue states if people vote third party. But there's a good reason not to. The Democratic platform Sanders fought for is also on the ballot. Clinton has not repudiated it or run from it and that is to her credit. If a majority of the country votes against her there are plenty of people in the media and both parties who will blame that platform and her embrace of progressive policies for the loss.

As Bernie says:

"Let us elect Hillary Clinton as president and that day after let us mobilize millions of people around the progressive agenda which was passed in the Democratic platform." 

So, that's where we are right now. Clinton is falling in the polls and Trump is rising. There's a very good chance we may wake up on November 9th in a different world if he pulls this off and progressives have the most to lose, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. This isn't politics as usual, friends. This requires all hands on deck.

You can donate through Blue America's Clinton page here. And if you can't do that you can do phone banking from your home or canvas in your neighborhood. I urge all Blue America members to take this seriously and do whatever you can to help Hillary Clinton win this election.



Why Bao? Lou Correa's Record Proves He's Not A Democrat

Northern Orange County-- Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange-- includes a deep blue congressional district in which Obama beat Romney 61-36%. It's an open seat and the primary yielded up a Democrat vs Democrat general election contest. Our candidate is Garden Grove Mayor and Berniecrat Bao Nguyen and his opponent is a former state legislator who had made a name for himself in Sacramento as the most right-wing Democrat in state government, Lou Correa.

Bao was endorsed by Blue America as well as by other progressive groups from PDA, DFA, and the SEIU to the Sierra Club, the Mexican American Bar Association PAC and the Nurses Union. Meanwhile Correa was endorsed by both the Blue Dogs and the New Dems, although in the long list of organizations that have endorsed him, he names neither group. After all, the two make up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Congress and CA-46 isn't that kind of district. So Correa tries his best to downplay where he stands and what kind of a record he's built for himself.

In a majority Latino district, Correa isn't just keeping it quiet that the joined the New Dems and Blue Dogs, but also that he voted against SB-60, which would have made drivers licenses available for all qualified Californians regardless of immigration status. His vote was a complete betrayal of the Hispanic population. Nor is that the only time he voted with the Republicans against working families-- far from it.

Although Correa claims when he campaigns that he's committed to affordable higher education, that sure isn't what his record shows. When Assembly Speaker John Perez proposed AB-1500 and 1501, the Middle Class Scholarship Act, to provide scholarships covering 60% of fees and tuition at all California State colleges and universities for families with household incomes of under $150,000, Correa crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP again. Perez took the unusual step of going on the record and single out Correa for killing the bill.

"Today was an opportunity for the State Senate to join the Assembly in approving tax fairness for California businesses and college opportunity for middle class families. Unfortunately, even though most Senate Democrats supported the Middle Class Scholarship Act, we could not reach agreement with Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) or Senate Republicans that would achieve the two-thirds vote necessary... It is disturbing that Senator Correa and so many Republicans would refuse to stand up for the middle class and instead continue to support a tax giveaway that favors out-of-state companies over our own." In a disturbing pattern that defines Correa's life, he pocketed campaign contributions from International Paper-- which vehemently opposed the bill-- 10 days before he voted against AB-1500, and more loot three weeks after the disgraceful vote.

If killing the Middle Class Scholarship Act wasn't bad enough, Correa also helped kill a 2014 attempt by Democrats in the legislature to raise the minimum wage. Although 63 of his fellow Democrats were co-sponsors of the bill, he claimed he voted with the Republicans against it because it was too long and he didn't know what it meant. It's almost as though he was already practicing to be a New Dem or Blue Dog!

He also worked with the GOP to restrict women's access to family planning and abortion services and to push the NRA's agenda. Planned Parenthood gave him a big fat ZERO rating and labeled him anti-Choice. He's actively supported loopholes to make sure assault-style military weapons would wind up in California neighborhoods. Again, Correa's sick record is not what Orange County Democrats and independents (nor even Republicans) want to protect society from gun massacres. 

I bet you could guess he's also an environmental disaster, right? You'd be guessing right. California's League of Conservation Voters says he has the worst environmental record of any Democratic elected official in the state. He always sides with special interests to protect corporate polluters, consistently failed to protect the state's water sources from lead and contamination, and voted against ensuring Californians have a right to clean, safe and affordable water. Year after year the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) gave him the worst rating of any California Democrat.

Sounds like a nightmare? The Democratic Establishment loves Correa. Steny Hoyer's PAC gave him $20,000, the most of any 2016 candidate. And the state party has endorsed him as well. And then Democrats wonder why voters don't find enough clear differences between the two parties and feel less loyalty towards the Democratic Party.

Please help Bao overcome the heavy odds he faces-- the way he did in the primary-- and let's help him win a victory in November that will send a message to establishment Democrats.



The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

Steve Israel says he's stepped down, but he still has his hand up Ben Ray Lujan's bottom part.

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Credit: @WMXDesign

When I was growing up I always thought Labor Day picnics marked the beginning of the election season. Now it seems to be the beginning of the final stretch of a campaign that's been raging for a year. We hope no Blue America members are focussing solely on the presidential race. Congress makes up a co-equal branch of government and if President Hillary is going to accomplish anything worthwhile-- or if President Trumpanzee is going to be kept in check-- we will need more progressives in the House and Senate. Today we want to take a look at the House and the candidates worth supporting... and the worst of the candidates worth avoiding.

It's not that hard to figure out who the dozen worst House Democrats were this session. ProgressivePunch keeps track of all the votes and in a category called "crucial votes," which doesn't include any routine stuff like naming post offices, they rate every member on how he or she voted during 2015 and 2016. From horrible to even more horrible this is the worst of the worst among Democrats. (It's worth noting that there are 5 Republicans whose records aren't as bad as some of these Democrats!)

• Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
• Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)
• Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
• Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
• Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
• Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)

In terms of the House, that's the heart of theRepublican wing of the Democratic Party-- and, predictably, every last one of them is a Blue Dog or a New Dem. In fact, most of the Blue Dogs are also New Dems.

These are where Boehner and Ryan get their votes to make horrible GOP proposals "bipartisan." These are the "Democrats" who want to kill Wall Street reform and gut Elizabeth Warren's CFPB, for example. From this list comes the climate change deniers, the homophobic fanatics, the anti-Choice throwbacks, the TPP supporters and anti-healthcare kooks... the "Democratic" votes for almost any cockamamie proposal the Koch brothers and the extreme right come up with. Ryan knows he can always count on Henry Cuellar for anything-- even more so than many members of his own party-- and that if he can't count on gay right-wing lunatics like Kyrsten Sinema and Sean Patrick Maloney to vote with him to penalize the LGBTQ community, at least they'll always be there to help him give Wall Street a free hand to pillage the American people. These are the members with their hands out for special interest money from Big Oil, Big Pharma, from the pay day lenders and the most contemptible banksters and polluters.

But how do we know about candidates who haven't been accruing voting records in Congress, the newbies running for the first time? Who will be the next batch of candidates for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- all of whom the DCCC is trying to pass off as solid Democrats, even calling some of them "progressives" to trick voters who are too busy to learn the details on the garbage candidates the DCCC is offering this year. Well, it turns out there is a way-- we can just dig a little and look to see who the Blue Dogs and New Dems are endorsing.

A candidate has to go to these organizations and ask for an endorsement and prove that they fit in and will be make-believe Democrats likely to help the NRA or the anti-Choice groups or the science deniers... any of the standard GOP fare, but most of all-- first and foremost-- that have to be Big Business-friendly and pro-Wall Street.

So far 19 Democratic candidates for the House have been endorsed by the New Dems and/or the Blue Dogs. Very few of them advertise that on their websites or mention it to voters in their districts. They just tell big campaign donors. Most of them hope to keep it hidden until after November. But we want to share the list with you... so you can use it when you decide how to vote (or not vote) in November. This year's worst House candidates:

• Lou Correa (CA)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Lon Johnson (MI)- Blue Dog
• Isadore Hall- New Dem
• Darren Soto- New Dem
• Gretchen Driskell (MI)- Blue Dog
• Brad Schneider (IL)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Shelli Yoder (IN)- Blue Dog
• Josh Gottheimer (NJ)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• LuAnn Bennett (VA)- New Dem
• Matt Heinz (AZ)- New Dem
• Salud Carbajal (CA)- New Dem
• Pete Gallego (TX)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Gail Schwartz (CO)- Blue Dog
• Val Demings (FL)- New Dem
• Monica Vernon (IA)- New Dem
• Kim Myers (NY)- Blue Dog
• Tom O'Halleran (AZ)- Blue Dog
• Emily Cain (ME)- New Dem
• Doug Owens (UT)- Blue Dog

A bit of good news is that in two cases, bad Democrats can still be defeated without a Republican winning. Both are in California Democrat vs Democrat races and both are in the L.A. area. Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen is running for the seat the Blue Dogs and New Dems are trying to capture with Lou Correa and Nanette Barragán is running against New Dem Isadore Hall. For the rest of these, you'll have to make up your own mind if you want to vote for a fake Democrat likely to vote around half the time with the GOP on crucial issues or skip that line on your ballot. It can be a tough call for a lot of people. One thing, though, shouldn't be tough-- no matter how you decide to vote, don't give anyone on that list of 19 conservaDems any money. Instead, please support Bao and Nanette and the other vetted progressives on the Blue America endorsement list. All of these candidates have won their primaries and will be facing conservatives in November and almost all of them are being ignored-- or worse-- by the DCCC.



An Advance In Grassroots Campaign Phone Banking

Phone banking is one crucial way for grassroots candidates to reach out to voters but I've been hearing from savvy candidates for several years that the commonly available phone banking software for small grassroots campaigns is subpar. One of the sharpest and most agile of the 2016 Blue America primary candidates, Alex Law, worked on creating a phone banking application called Partic, which is extremely simple on the front end for unpaid volunteers. Candidates can have their volunteers make calls from anywhere in a simple system with the best scripting function out there. It has all the features any campaign needs and none it doesn't. Blue America would like to contribute the system to some of the campaigns we felt would make the best use of it.

Can you let us know which campaigns you would like us to donate the system to? We'll pick 2 campaigns this weekend based on the number of contributions our candidates get on this ActBlue page, not the amount of money, just the number of contributions. So if you want to help a candidate, please contribute any amount you can afford to his or her campaign.

Meanwhile, I asked Alex to explain the system in a guest post.

Why Partic? Why Now?
-by Alex Law

Many of you may remember my race in New Jersey's 1st Congressional District against corrupt Donald Norcross. I appreciate everything the Blue America family has done for me. This was the first organization to believe in me.

While we ultimately didn't win the race, we did run one of the most efficient campaigns in 25 years and become the first campaign ever to be endorsed by a major East Coast newspaper against an incumbent in a primary without any major scandal. I know this is just the beginning for me, and I will certainly keep the Blue America family posted with what I do next in politics.

With that said, I know our work isn't done now. You may have read my letter fundraising for my friends Tim Canova, Alan Grayson, and Zephyr Teachout. That was successful, but I want to do more for the progressive community. Even though I am not in a position to be able to significantly contribute financially, I do have a lot of knowledge about campaigns. To this end, my partner and I built a phone banking application called Partic.

When I looked for a phone banking application during my campaign, I really didn't like the options. Everything was geared towards robo-dialing. The user experience for actual live callers (our volunteers) was terrible on most applications. This is because the major phone banking services are primarily geared to larger volume enterprises that pay their phone callers. When you pay your callers, you can instruct them to deal with what ever the system is. To those of us who have volunteered on progressive campaigns, we know that just isn't how it works. If the program isn't simple and easy to use, volunteers simply won't use it. This is why so many campaigns, especially small progressive campaigns are forced to rely on incredibly inefficient and expensive solutions to phone banking (usually paper, pen, and landlines).

Partic changes that. We built our application with the volunteers in mind. Everything on the front end is incredibly simple. There is no syncing with your cell phone-- volunteers can make calls with a push of a button on the computer. The scripting function allows campaigns to create incredibly detailed scripts, but the volunteers will only see one piece at a time to make communication as easy as possible. All of the data is automatically tracked and available in analyzed reports at any time. Soon, pre-recorded voicemails will be able to be dropped in by the volunteer if no one picks up. This application drives efficiency with great tools but also with great simplicity.

I want progressive campaigns to use this tool. Not to make money, but because better organizing is key to our progress as a movement. As such, I told the leadership at Blue America that I would make our system available at cost to any Blue America campaigns. The better organized we all are, the more seats we can win together.

Blue America wants to give a grassroots organizing advantage-- Partic-- to two deserving progressive campaigns. Tell us which ones you want us to give gift subscriptions to, by donating any amount to your candidate on this ActBlue page. This weekend we'll tally up who got the most "votes" (via contribution) and award the top two with a subscription.



DuWayne Gregory-- Ready To Turn Long Island Blue Again


Republican Peter King has been in Congress since 1993 and his Democratic neighbor and crony, Blue Dog Steve Israel, has seen to it that he would have no serious challenges from the DCCC. With Israel himself finally retiring, there were hopes that the DCCC would finally take on King, an outspoken Trump supporter. The Democrats have their best candidate for the seat in living memory, DuWayne Gregory, the respected and well-liked presiding officer of the Suffolk County legislature.

The Long Island South Shore district has moved significantly east into blue Suffolk County and is no longer safe Nassau territory for Republicans. In fact two-thirds of the voters now live in Suffolk-- and many of them don't know very much about Peter King. There was every expectation that once DuWayne Gregory became the official Democratic Party's candidate the DCCC would come in and help him get the message out about who King is. After all, Obama won the district twice, 51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney. And the district-- the most Hispanic on Long Island-- is bluer now than it was then.

In 2014 Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won both counties with gigantic landslide margins and this cycle Chuck Schumer's reelection campaign is expected to do just as well. It looks like Hillary will beat Trump very substantially in the New York suburbs, Nassau and Suffolk counties included. More Democrats than Republicans voted in the presidential primaries and polling shows enthusiasm for Trump since the primaries has all but evaporated. But Steve Israel has persuaded the DCCC to once again take a hands-off policy towards his old pal Peter King.

Needless to say, he hasn't persuaded Blue America and we've endorsed DuWayne Gregory with great enthusiasm and urge all of our members to consider contributing to his strong grassroots campaign here.

Friday we spent some time talking with DuWayne and I want to share some of his unvarnished thoughts with you:

"Ever since I announced my run for Congress people have asked me why do you want to run and why do you think you can beat Peter King? The answer for me was simple for two reasons. First, I strongly believe we need new leadership in Washington. Secondly, the decision to run, specifically, against Peter King was a personal decision for me. I take the responsibility of holding public office seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to have the ability to have a positive impact on people's lives. I also believe because of the oath of office we take we represent all residents of our district and not just the ones who voted for us or who we personally agree with. Peter King has violated this rule, in my opinion. I don't begrudge anyone with a more conservative set of principles than myself, but I do begrudge abhorrent values. 

"My decision to run was due in large part because of my son Julian, who is gay. When district lines changed I took it upon myself to research my Congressman's voting record on LGBT issues and was astonished at how narrowed minded his voting history has been: he voted against gay couples adopting children in Washington DC; supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a woman and a man; voted against expanding hate crimes to cover LGBT victims; voted against protecting LGBT members from being discriminated at work etc. As a LGBT parent Peter King does not understand the fear that a parent has, because of the same bigotry that is displayed with a voting record like his. I will never forget the day my son Julian came out to me while we were going to get ice cream. He was 12 years old! I immediately told him that I loved him and want him to be happy, but in my mind I was worried about how less accepting people will respond. People like Peter King who wrongly think gays make a choice regarding their sexual orientation. People like the shooter in the Orlando club massacre where my son was just two weeks prior. 

"So I made a choice that our country and my Congressional district needs new leadership and one less voice against equality in America. We deserve to have a representative that will work to protect my son just as fervently as all other children without bigotry or hate. It is Peter King's job to work to protect all people from harm and discrimination regardless of religious or personal beliefs. As an African-American I know hate all to well and to think my protection and safety would be sacrificed by an elected official because that person didn't approve I find appalling and dereliction of duty. The oath that public officials take does not ask them to protect only certain segments of the country, the one's they agree with, but all citizens of our country."

 

It's time for grassroots Democrats to take our fate into our own hands and stop allowing corrupt party bosses like Steve Israel and the jokers at the DCCC determine who does and who doesn't get into Congress. Voters on Long Island need to know that Peter King has endorsed and fully backs his pal Trump. If the DCCC won't help DuWayne Gregory get that message out-- and the message about who DuWayne is himself and what he wants to accomplish in Congress-- let's do it ourselves. It's worked in the past and it can work this time as well. Please consider contributing what you can to DuWayne's campaign here.



The GOP Would Rather Fight Science Than Climate Change

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Credit: Wakely Campaign

One ominous development we've been watching with alarm this cycle is the DCCC's systematic discounting of the public's preference in primaries. It seems that every time a progressive wins, the DCCC decides the district is not winnable and they immediately abandon the district.

Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan have mandated this in every part of the country, from Long Island and the Philly suburbs, up to Wisconsin's north woods and down to Texas' Austin-San Antonio corridor. Today we want to introduce you to Tom Wakely, a progressive Democrat who backed Bernie in the primary and has rallied around Hillary for the general election. 

His primary victory over a self-described conservative Democrat was substantial and decisive-- 59-41%. But the DCCC has an odd definition of "party unity" and has never so much as returned a call from Tom. TX-21 includes deep blue downtown Austin and traditionally Republican suburbs of that city and San Antonio that have turned away from Trump. These voters aren't happy about the incumbent-- Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith-- and his enthusiastic backing for Trump, and his pig-headed denial of Science in regard to both Climate Change and the Zika virus outbreak, two absolutely crucial areas that Lamar's Science Committee has refused to act on. 

But never mind that. And never mind that TX-21 is ripe to flip from red to blue, a supposed “goal” the DCCC and DNC keep dangling under the noses of Democratic donors. They're acting as though Lamar Smith has no opponent this cycle, instead of acknowledging the primary winner and one of the most vibrant grassroots campaigns anywhere in America. 

Maybe they feel Wakely's progressive message is too strong for Texas-- although Texas Democrats found it just right. "As a labor organizer," Tom told us, "I was able to see progressivism as the necessary philosophy to extend our nation's promise to all of our citizens. As a former minister, I've always seen progressivism as a moral imperative. And as someone who has studied religious texts, I can't for the life of me find anything that grants humanity the ability to trash its only home without repercussions. With our government already relocating climate refugees from coastal Louisiana and Alaska, we cannot afford a Congress which turns two blind eyes to reality and objectivity."

That's a message that works in Austin and in San Antonio, even if it frightens Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan. Tom is promising to work to ban fracking:

"There is no middle man fuel if we're pumping any amount of excess carbon into our atmosphere. Banning fracking is essential in keeping drought-prone places (like in my home state of Texas) free from predatory corporations who cannot adequately return even a fraction of the water used back to our environment. While we've made progress, we can do so much more. While I've never and will never pretend to be an expert in climate science, I have listened to countless experts and scientists who all seem to be in agreement that we must act now. I've worked with Methodist Earthkeepers, who define themselves as missionaries of God's creation, to further cement in my promise to my constituents a moral imperative to leaving a better planet for generations to come. My guiding principle, and our campaign's motto, is that we must take care of each other. There's no better fight that exemplifies this creed than our fight to protect our planet. When I'm in Congress, you can count on me to always think of you."

His criticism of the seemingly unaccountable Lamar Smith is straight-forward and well-deserved:

My opponent, Lamar Smith, endorsed Trump this May and suggested that we could all become "enthusiastic" backers of the most unstable nominee either major party has ever seen. Trump's climate adviser claims the jury is still out on climate change. Trump himself sees climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese in order to harm American manufacturing. Congressman Smith has quickly become one of the most discussed House science chairs in recent memory for all the wrong reasons.

He's subpoenaed multiple climate groups and 17 attorneys general who are only looking into the mere possibility that the then Exxon lied to its shareholders and the public.
 
He's subpoenaed NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) scientists for presenting data he didn't like, wasting tax dollars to essentially reprimand scientists... My opponent has set an extremely dangerous precedent. First it's the climate science community, but what's next?
 
Lamar Smith is proud of this regressive activist committee he's built, which has Republicans clamoring to join for the sole purpose of political and capital gains. He's taken our last bastion of objectivity and turned it upside down. It should be considered a national disgrace. Our people should be angrier, but they're only just beginning to scratch the surface of a man who's managed to walk unscathed through the halls of the Capitol for nearly three decades.

This is a new Blue America ActBlue page we created to highlight progressives who have won their primaries and are being undercut-- rather than helped-- by a DCCC hostile to a progressive vision. We hope you’ll consider carefully the progressives, like Tom Wakely listed there, and give what you can.



Focus On What's Hot: Florida


Tomorrow is the first day of early voting for the August 30 Florida primary. As always, the corrupt, self-serving establishment has candidates it's trying to slip in, incumbents like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and even worse garbage, like Patrick Murphy, that they are trying to advance up the ladder.

This is the last great stand of the 2016 Democratic primary season-- where genuine progressives like Alan Grayson and Tim Canova are battling the very worst the Democratic Party has to offer.

Grayson's wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, is the strongest candidate in his old district to beat back a challenge from a very conservative pro-NRA Democratic state Senator. "We progressives, not Republicans or faux-Democrats, are the only ones who are truly committed to helping people," she told us. "The way to turn Florida blue is simple. We need to stop running Republican-lite candidates masquerading as Democrats, and instead, support true progressive who recognize people's needs and will take action to improve their lives."

As the Sun Sentinel put it a few days ago, "A Canova win over Wasserman Schultz would send shockwaves across the country." Those are just the kind of shockwaves the Democratic Party establishment needs and needs badly. This morning Tim was finally able to force Wasserman Schultz into a serious TV debate after she dodged and ducked for months. She was the living, breathing embodiment of why Americans are sick and tired of self-serving career politicians and she refused to answer point blank questions, although at the last second of the debate, the moderator got her to admit she is pro-fracking. Unfortunately, almost 10,000 Democrats in FL-23 have already voted by mail. "Sadly, today, she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from industries like Big Sugar, Wall Street banks, predatory lenders and private prisons," explained one of Canova's radio ads. "I believe you either represent the corporate lobbyists or you represent the people. You cannot do both."

Alan Grayson, the progressive in the Senate race for Marco Rubio's seat, understands better than anyone what's wrong with Democratic Party politics in his state. He told us yesterday,

“Florida Democrats are demonstrating Einstein's definition of insanity-- they keep nominating right-wing DINOs for statewide office, they keep losing, and they keep expecting that the results will change. They won't. We have now lost 14 out of the last 15 state government campaigns, going back to when Jeb Bush was Governor, because our Democratic voters have absolutely no idea what our candidates will do for them if they are elected. (The only exception was when a Democrat snuck into office because even Florida voters couldn't stomach a GOP candidate for "Chief Financial Officer" who was hopelessly corrupt.)

Florida Republicans promise abortion restrictions, pro-gun laws, cuts in social services, lower taxes and corporate welfare-- and they deliver. Florida right-wing Democrats promise I-don't-know-what, and they can't even deliver on that. As for me, I have promised to improve the lives of ordinary people in Central Florida, and I've delivered on those promises. And I'm the only Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in Congress in the past 42 years. Coincidence? No.”

Now Blue America is asking you to help make sure our slate of Florida progressives make it out of the primaries on the 30th to go on and beat reactionary Republicans like Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Matt Caldwell. You can pick and choose at the Blue America Florida page here.



Ted Lieu's New Bill To Prevent A Pres. Trump From Using Nukes

When Digby, John and I were first getting to know Ted Lieu, back when he was still a state Senator, we asked him why he was willing to leave the young family he's so devoted to in L.A. and spend so much time in Washington, D.C. He told us it actually had a lot to do with his two sons-- a compulsion to help turn Congress towards solving the accelerating problems around Climate Change. And, sure enough, last month when Ted was named the freshmen Democrats MVP, his unrelenting work-- with members on both sides of the aisle-- for climate change was first and foremost in everyone's mind. That and... cyber-security, equal rights, criminal justice and marijuana legalization. Yeah, he's been busy.

But last week, hot on the heels of his promotion to full colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Ted, along with two other freshmen military vets in the House sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. "As veterans who previously served on active duty," they wrote, "we are horrified by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slander of parents whose son died serving our country. Mr. Trump has already made a series of racist and sexist statements. But the profound disrespect Mr. Trump has shown toward Gold Star parents is a new low. Your continued endorsement of Mr. Trump's hateful, bigoted and sexist vision threatens the integrity of the House of Representatives in which we serve. We respectfully request that you follow what we believe your heart is telling you and withdraw your endorsement of him now."

Thursday, Ted announced he is introducing legislation to make it more difficult for a president to launch a nuclear attack.

“The erratic and impulsive behavior of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has highlighted the structural dangers of America’s nuclear weapons launch protocols. Having taught the Law of War when I served on active duty, and as a graduate of Air War College, it is clear to me that the traditional checks and balances on the Executive branch do not apply when it comes to nuclear weapons. This process needs to be fixed.

“The President does not need approval from Congress or the courts to launch nuclear weapons. All the President needs is the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, who is appointed by the President.

“When Congress comes back into session, I plan to introduce legislation that requires the concurrence of leaders in Congress-- who are not beholden to the President-- before a nuclear strike can be launched. We can no longer have the fate of civilization depend on just two people in the Executive Branch.”

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This week Blue America is helping Ted raise funds for his reelection campaign. As a thank you we are giving away 6 advance copies of the next book by neuroscientist Dan Levitin (author of the massive NY Times best seller, This Is Your Brain On Music.) Dan, a big admirer of Ted's, autographed half a dozen advance review copies ofA Field Guide To Lies-- Critical Thinking In The Information Age for half a dozen randomly selected contributors. There is no minimum contribution; everyone is equally likely to be picked to "win" one of the signed books.

Dr. Levitin told us Friday that: "My wife and I had dinner with Ted Lieu recently and it was one of the most fascinating conversations we’ve ever had. He has a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and shared many insights with us. He is exactly the kind of person we need to have in government: smart, empathetic, honest, and eager to devote his considerable talents to public service not for his own personal gain, but to help make the world a better place. He's committed to clearing the logjam that congress has become, using his intelligence and creativity to move forward policies and legislation that will benefit all of us."

Just contribute any amount by Tuesday evening at midnight at this Blue America ActBlue page to be eligible.



A Clear Choice

Blue America endorsed Bill Ostrander in the 9 person race for the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo CA-24 congressional seat. He ran a strong issues-oriented campaign, very much in line with Bernie's political revolution, to which he ascribed. He wasn't left standing on election night and voters in the 24th will have to pick between a garden variety careerist Democrat or a corruption-tainted GOP extremist. There are no good choices there. 

A few days ago, Bill called me and told me he's backing another "Berniecrat" though, Wendy Reed, who made it through the primary and will face off against Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in November in the district next door. In line with their policy of never challenging GOP leaders, the DCCC has refused to help Reed take on their onerous task. McCarthy, one of the most corrupt members of Congress-- only Paul Ryan has taken more money from Wall Street than he has this year-- has raised $6,727,189 this cycle something like 200 times more than Reed!

We need to do something about that, since McCarthy is not especially popular there; now a white minority district, with over 36% Hispanic population. CA-23 includes much of Bakersfield and Lancaster, as well as Tehachapi, Rosamond and lots of wide open spaces and national wilderness preserves that McCarthy wants to sell off to developers, including Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

This morning, Bill sent me this note telling me why he is so enthusiastic about backing Wendy's campaign, over and above just helping her beat the odious McCarthy:

CA-23 is the district next door. The two districts meet at Los Padres National Forest, the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, space very much valued and cherished by people in both districts and space that Wendy has pledged to protect from rapacious developers. She is a land use planning activist who has worked in the community for 3 decades and, like myself, was immediately drawn to Bernie's values-and-policy oriented campaign. She went back to school to earn a Masters degree in Public Administration and is a land trust founder, and a climate change educator, with experience working with federal, state, county, and local agencies.

I saw a mailer that McCarthy sent out about her called "The Choice Is Clear." It featured a picture of Wendy and Bernie and excoriated her as a liberal. She probably didn't have the resources to create and send out a flier like that herself but I know it brought her a tremendous amount of positive attention. 

I was impressed that her top two platform commitments are (1) to get money out of politics/politics out of government-- as she said, "reversing or superseding Citizens United, eliminating loopholes for contributions, establishing limits for expenditures, excising lobbyists from the halls of government, establishing clear conflict of interest and insider trading restrictions and enforcing them mercilessly, prosecuting patronage at all levels of government, and supporting effective public funding for elections-- to restore representational self-government, and (2) to bring resources to this part of our state to invest in local infrastructure, upgrade the health and safety of our industries, and face the challenges of climate change. These aren't partisan issues and they appeal broadly to people in central California regardless of party ID.

McCarthy was advertising that he is a friend to veterans while he was whipping GOP efforts in Congress to slash Veterans Administration funding and services, and eliminate safety nets for military families. He blamed President Obama for FEMA's denial of services and loans to the Kern River Valley after the Erskine Fire, while he was whipping GOP efforts to slash FEMA funding, staffing, and services. McCarthy and the Republicans even tried to eliminate FEMA as an agency in 2012. 

McCarthy appears to do nothing for central California and nothing for the taxpayers of the 23rd district. That, along with Wendy's reasonable and innovative approach to the problems in our area, ise why I'm asking my supporters and the Blue America members who did so much to help me to contribute to her grassroots campaign today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team




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