New Jersey Can Help Fix The Senate

I’m not the most famous candidate running for Senate in New Jersey.  If you know me at all, you probably know me as the congressman who beat IBM’s computer, Watson in Jeopardy-- the one whose bumper stickers say “My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist!”

But as a true progressive, you care about more than celebrity and slogans.  You care about electing the senator who will fight the hardest for our shared values.

So let me tell you why, with your support, I will be that person:  the truly progressive, evidence-driven voice we urgently need in the U.S. Senate.

As a teacher and a scientist, I used to help run the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and led the nuclear nonproliferation program at the U.S. State Department. This experience gives me a very different perspective from anyone now in the Senate –and gives me the conviction to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

You see, right now, the Senate has zero scientists. And as a result, the evidence in support of our progressive priorities is being ignored:

• The earth’s climate is changing, and human beings are responsible. Every single month for the last 28 years has been warmer than the historic average. If America fails to act, millions of people will die.

• America’s health care system is not the best in the world-- not even close. We’re paying 40 percent more than any other country as a share of our economy, and we’re still leaving almost 50 million people uninsured.

• America is betraying our young college students-- burdening them with an average of $27,000 in student loan debt, then abandoning them to face 13 percent unemployment in the workplace.

If we’re honest about the evidence, the way forward is clear.

We need to tax carbon so that polluters pay for the greenhouse gases they’re dumping into our atmosphere.

We need to move to a single-payer health care system, the kind that has held down costs and improved quality in nations around the world.

We need to make college more affordable by charging students the same low interest rate, 0.75%, that Wall Street banks pay to borrow money from the government.

And we desperately need a senator for the 21st century: someone who has a real understanding of the science and technology that are changing our world.

Because despite what some senators have claimed, the Internet is not a series of tubes, abortions do not cause breast cancer, and breast implants do not make women healthier. And although changing technology does present new challenges to law enforcement, it does not mean the NSA has the need or the right to monitor the phone calls, letters, and e-mails of innocent people-- treating Americans as suspects first and citizens second.

It’s long past time for the Senate to have at least one scientist, at least one voice who follows the evidence wherever it leads, no matter the political or personal risk.

Rush Holt, Rocket Scientist

Contribute

Will you help me be that truly progressive, evidence-driven voice? If so, I ask for your vote and your support.

Please visit my website, RushHolt.com. See where I stand, watch my videos explaining these ideas in more depth, and-- if you like what you see-- share the word with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Thanks.  It’s a privilege to run for your seat in the Senate, and I can’t wait to get to work for you.

Rush Holt



FEC Quarter Ends Today; Should You Care?

Today's the end of the FEC fundraising quarter and I want to refer you to a post yesterday you may have missed about real bipartisanship, bipartisanship based on compromising that genuinely works for both sides, not compromise based on a combination of opportunism, bribery and one side betraying core values.

Some Members of Congress-- virtually all the Republicans, all the New Dems and every single Blue Dog for example-- finance their political careers by taking legalistic bribes from special interests like Wall Street banks, armaments makers and/or Big Oil. Blue America has been encouraging a new model, one based on congressmen and senators who represent actual citizens and citizens who in turn chip in to help with those Members' campaigns. Our primary avatars for this model has always been Alan Grayson in the House and Bernie Sanders in the Senate.

Like I said, this weekend is another quarterly FEC deadline. You probably got dozens of e-mails from all kinds of phony-baloney Democrats begging for help, primarily ones like Patrick Murphy, Sean Patrick Maloney and Ann Kuster who have worked for the bad guys all year and have only earned your scorn. Instead we'd like to ask you to consider making a contribution to Alan Grayson's campaign. He continues to super-serve ordinary working families, not big, wealthy corporations and their lobbyists.

This week he offered an amendment to an offshore drilling bill that would have guaranteed each state the right to make the ultimate decision about drilling. He put together a coalition of environmentally concerned Democrats and states rights-oriented Republicans, including some of the most right-wing Members of Congress. Big Oil panicked and put pressure of the GOP House leadership to get some of the Republicans to change their votes. Some did-- but not enough. But Big Oil had an ace in the hole: Blue Dog John Barrow (GA), the House Democrat they gave the most money to last year. He and fellow Blue Dog Jim Matheson (UT) were the only Democrats to vote against Grayson's amendment Friday. The amendment lost by one vote... by one vote in a House where Republicans have a 33 vote margin. No Democrat has been able to do anything like that... except Alan Grayson.

Big Oil, Big Finance, the Military Industrial Establishment have every Republican and a good solid chunk of Democrats. We have Alan Grayson. Let's make sure we keep him in Congress. The other names on that page have been vetted with Grayson in mind. We want to find him a team who will be there fighting for the same values and principles, instead of more like John Barrow and Jim Matheson.

UPDATE From Congressman Grayson

To whom does Haliburton give money?

Not me.

Here's how Congress works for most of the Members: they sit in their offices, they cross the street to the Floor of the House to vote every once in a while, and, while in their offices, corporate lobbyist after corporate lobbyist comes to kiss their rings. They kiss that ring with their lips, and, with their hands, they hand over the language that they want inserted into a bill that will help their cause.

Then, after the Members of Congress do the bidding of their corporate masters, they walk across the street to the party HQ, pick up the phone, and ask those same corporations to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their campaigns.

These corporations aren't bankrolling my campaign, because I don't do their bidding. I rely on you. If you want me to keep fighting and keep legislating in the public interest, I need your support before the important June 30th deadline.

Even $5 and $10 contributions, if enough people make them, can determine a race. You can help Alan here.

We ran this amazing video of Grayson already but I want to run it again... it's that good:

And here's another clip that should blow minds-- especially inside the DC Democratic Establishment. "We need more Democrats who are Democrats... As Howard Dean said years and years ago, 'You can't beat a Republican by being a Republican.' Nobody's fooled by that. If the public has a choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican running as a Democrat, they'll choose the real Republican every time. So it's actually self-defeating." He just devastated Steve Israel's entire DCCC strategy:



Let's Help Keith Ellison Save the World!

You may have noticed that the right-wing Hate Machine has decided to take a little energy out of their stream of hatred and calumny usually reserved for Nancy Pelosi, to focus it on Keith Ellison. After all, Keith, a very outspoken and articulate co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is only 49 and will be in Congress long after Pelosi, 73, retires. Sean Hannity has declared a right-wing crusade against Ellison and spends an inordinate amount of energy smearing him. We've tried to have Keith's back. And Tuesday at 1pm (Central Time), 11am on the West Coast, Keith will be joining us for a live chat at Crooks and Liars. Try to stop by.

The other co-chair of the CPC, our old friend Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), is very enthusiastic of Keith's ability to give a voice to regular working families. "Keith, above all, isn't posturing," he told us. "He deeply believes in and relentlessly fights for progressive values and equality for all. I enjoy his friendship and admire his drive and consistency. He is a real person for these unreal times, and I support him every chance I get."

Like Grijalva and Alan Grayson, Keith has been a tireless fighter against the Boehner-Obama Chained CPI scheme. He seems almost hurt that Obama would play for the other team on something so absolutely crucial for working Americans.

"You worked hard. You earned it. And Republicans want to dismantle it.

Years ago when people talked about retirement, we thought of it like a three-legged stool: the pension from your job, money you saved, and Social Security.  

But pensions are disappearing, and savings are down. And now, the last leg standing is being whittled away.

In an effort to bring the GOP to the table, President Obama has proposed a budget that changes the way cost of living adjustments are calculated for people on Social Security, using a method called the 'Chained CPI.' Plain and simple, this would be a benefit cut, forcing the most vulnerable Americans to dig even further into their savings.

It’s never been more important to keep our promise to American families, and that’s why I’m standing up for Social Security."

It's very much in the interest of progressives that we counterbalance the poison from the right and to help make Keith a formidable figure with the House Democratic caucus. Take a moment to view the video of Keith giving Sean Hannity a dose of the cold hard truth on his own Fox program. Is this what you want more of in Congress? Then, please consider helping his reelection effort at the special Keith Ellison page.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, Amato, and the Blue America team



House Republicans Defeat Elizabeth Warren's Bill In Committee--

 Give the $tudents the same deal as the banks

Senator Warren Needs More Allies In Congress Who Want To Help Students, Not Prey On Them

By now you've probably heard about Elizabeth Warren's fantastic first piece of legislation, the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act. Her goal is to lower student loan interest rates for next year from 3.4% to 0.75% -- the same rate the government loans money to the banks through the Federal Reserve discount window. As of now, unless Congress takes action-- other than drumming up faux scandals to deny President Obama a third term-- student loan interest rates will double to 6.8% on July 1st.

Boehner and Cantor, the Republicans as a party, and the Wall Street bankers who fund them, have declared Senator Warren's proposal a non-starter and have vowed to kill it. Last week Boehner shuffled it into John Kline's Education and Workforce Committee, and Kline did exactly what he was told. The proposal was defeated 23-14, all the Republicans voting NO and all but one Democrat voting YES.

All the Blue America-endorsed candidates support Elizabeth Warren's way of dealing with this problem and all of them would like to get into Congress and make sure her proposal eventually passes.

State Rep. Carl Sciortino is one of Senator Warren's Massachusetts constituents and he's running for the  House seat being vacated by Ed Markey, a seat that includes towns like Cambridge, Waltham, Medford, and Framingham, all filled with college students. Carl is 34 and has been an enthusiastic proponent of Senator Warren's approach. He knows that the future of the country lies with people going through school today.

"Our country has always taught its young people that hard work and education are keys to achieving the American dream," he told us. "But for too many families the cost of higher education has become the subject of their nightmares. While Republicans in Washington try to weaken Wall Street regulations, progressive Democrats are working to give our students the same low interest rates as our banks. We have to get serious as a nation about ensuring that our younger generation has the same opportunities to succeed as our parents and grandparents. Senator Warren has put forward a smart and creative solution, and I look forward to supporting her efforts in Congress later this year."

That's right... later this year. There will be a special election in the fall to fill Ed Markey's seat. So, like Nick Ruiz, Daylin Leach, Andy Hounshell and, of course, Alan Grayson, Carl can use some support to make sure a progressive agenda has the strongest possible allies.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, Amato and the Blue America Team



Blue America Welcomes Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach

Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County-- is one of the most liberal districts in the state. Obama beat McCain 65.4-33.7% in 2008 and did even better last year-- 66.2-32.9%. The current congressmember, Allyson Schwartz, is giving up the seat to run for governor. She was reelected in November with 69% of the vote. She's always been extremely cautious to not get out ahead on any contentious issues and tends to vote very conservatively for a Democrat in a safe seat, especially on issues of economic justice. This is the perfect time to replace her with a real leader and a courageous fighting progressive. State Senator Daylin Leach fits the bill perfectly. Take a look at the video up top. You have to admire a politician who brags about an "F" from the NRA and who launches a congressional campaign talking about introducing the first same sex marriage bill in the Pennsylvania legislature.

With his record of achievement, Daylin is a natural for Blue America and he'll be joining us in the comments section, below, for a live chat at 11am (2pm ET). He's been taking on tough issues that most politicians are afraid to get anywhere near-- from legalizing marijuana to labeling genetically engineered food. He's been a major opponent in the state legislature of Republican efforts to privatize and voucherize public education and has been one of the leading voices against GOP efforts at voter suppression. He supports the Grayson Takano No Cuts approach to dealing with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans," he told us. "I fully supported President Obama's election, but I can't support any drift towards corporatism to appease tea-party extremists... Republicans are, on a daily basis, showing their complete indifference to the poor, kids, the elderly and public safety as they not only perpetuate sequestration, but gloat about it. The clock ticks as America waits for some actual human beings with a soul to emerge from the Republican caucus."

The gun lobby is very strong in Pennsylvania and the NRA is a very potent force there. That doesn't seem to deter Daylin one iota. This is what he told us about the battle over gun safety yesterday:

Lets wrap our mind around this. Congress said that it is our national policy that we don't want to know if someone is a violent felon before we allow them to buy a mass-killing machine. This is what it looks like when a country loses its mind.

Further, the idea that any restriction with the word "gun" in it somehow violates the 2nd Amendment is based on ignorance of how the Constitution works. No constitutional right is absolute. We have a right to free speech which is far more unambiguous than the "right to keep and bear arms." Yet there are all kinds of speech which we can Constitutionally restrict. You can't libel someone or lie in advertising, or yell "fire" in a crowded theater. You can say you are against the war in Iraq, but you can't do it through a megaphone in a residential neighborhood at 3:00 AM.

Ironically, most of these restrictions are based on the state's interest in preserving public safety. Similarly, limits on violent people, or juveniles, or spouse-beaters having guns, or the number of guns you can buy per month, or how many bullets you can have in a clip at a time are perfectly reasonable, and more to the point, Constitutional restrictions that in no way impact anyone's 2nd Amendment rights.

State Rep. Brian Sims is the first out LGBT member to be elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. He's from a neighboring district and he's enthusiastically supporting Daylin's congressional run. Sims gained a lot of notoriety when, in fighting GOP attempts to prohibit state-run insurance from covering abortions, he reminded his colleagues that "Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; we did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." This weekend he told us that "Daylin Leach has been a leader on LGBT civil rights in the Pennsylvania legislature for the last decade which is why I have endorsed him. This is a pivotal time in Washington for issues of equality, and we need proven leaders like Daylin who have a record of fighting for our rights. I know that Daylin will be our champion in DC."

Daylin doesn't mince words when it comes to protecting the civil rights of any groups of people. Speaking about his fight for LGBT equality, he reminded us that, "Martin Luther King said 'the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.' So what is it bending away from? It bends away from bigotry, and discrimination and social acceptance of the idea that its OK to treat people as lesser human beings because they are different from us. In the long run, those attitudes make history sick."

He's been a stalwart fighter against the Republicans in their crackpot war against women. "It is beyond my comprehension how anyone with a mother, wife or daughter could accept anything less than full equality for women. Equality of income, of access to health care, of opportunities to succeed, these are the basic demands that anyone who has a woman he cares about should have." You want the best in Congress-- not someone who the best you can say is that he's better than a Republican? Daylin's your man. We're very proud to endorse him. Please consider contributing to his campaign on the Blue America ActBlue page.



We Won-- Thanks!

Blue America Progressive Ed Markey will face Gabriel Gomez (R) in MA Senate Runoff

Tuesday in Massachusetts progressives made their voices heard. Liberal icon Ed Markey, the Blue America-endorsed candidate beat ConservaDem Stephen Lynch 58- 42% in the primary for the Democratic nomination to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.

Ed Markey would make the PERFECT partner for Elizabeth Warren
Ed Markey would make the PERFECT partner for Elizabeth Warren

Now Ed will face off against Republican Gabriel Gomez, an anti-Choice fanatic and typical lockstep Republican.

It's likely Ed will beat him June 25th. But it's never safe to assume anything. Remember Senator Scott Brown! The good news is that all three Republicans in the primary got fewer votes than Stephen Lynch. But Ed will still need contributions for the big money Republicans are expected to put into this race. You can donate to Ed's campaign on the special page Blue America has for Senate candidates</a>.

Thanks again!

We are all in this together,

Howie, for Digby, Amato and the Blue America Team



"VOTE EARLY, Vote Often" Our Chained CPI "Contest" Is Over Tomorrow Morning

Tomorrow at 6AM (PT) we'll do two things: award the congressional candidate who had the most donations-- not the most money, the most people donating-- a $1,000 Blue America PAC check; and we'll randomly chose one donor to get the RIAA-certified 311 platinum award pictured above. So, there's still plenty of time for you to "vote." You do it here.

Although it's close enough so that it could go any way, the two leaders right now are Nick Ruiz, who's running in central Florida against Republican anti-Social Security reactionary John Mica, and Pennsylvania state Senator Daylin Leach, who's running for the open congressional seat being abandoned by New Dem Allyson Schwartz in northeast Philadelphia. All the statements are on the page but here are the two that have the most votes so far. Daylin:

"At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans. I fully supported President Obama's election, but I can't support any drift towards corporatism to appease tea-party extremists. If we are really serious about ensuring the solvency of Social Security while preserving benefits well into the future, there is a simple solution. We should raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax from $110,000 per year to $200,000 per year. This is fair, reasonable, and keeps faith with those who rely on Social Security to survive."

And Nick:

"I would never vote to diminish Social Security benefits. These benefits cover retirees, widows, children, disabled persons and veterans-- none of whom receive enough as it is by current economic standards of reasonable cost, inflation and common decency. In fact, it's part of my platform to actually increase Social Security benefits, financed by lifting the FICA cap, and Wall Street cost-sharing. My GOP opponent, John Mica wants to CUT Social Security benefits and make seniors retire even later in life, at 70 years of age. It's unacceptable. Help me stop him."

Just a handful of "votes" separate these two-- and separate them from the other candidates. So, please don't forget to vote before 6AM tomorrow. Again, here's where you can do it-- a place where one dollar counts as much as $100.



Blue America Chained CPI Contest! Candidate Nick Ruiz Speaks Out

Where do Blue America challengers stand on President Obama and Speaker Boehner's "Chained CPI?" Watch this video from Nicholas Ruiz III running for Congress in Florida's 7th District. If you want to know what the other Progressive challengers on Blue America's "Save Social Security Page" think about the planned cuts to Social Security and Medicaid, go here. If you like what you read, vote for Nick or any other candidate on that page and you could win a very rare RIAA certified Platinum Award for the band 311. Vote with your dollars (even 1 buck works) the candidate with the most votes gets a check from Blue America for $1,000. Anyone who "'votes" at this link is entered to win the award.



Support Daylin Leach, Who Wants To Save Social Security From Chained CPI

Media error

Hopefully, most of you have seen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano's letter to President Obama that states very clearly they will never vote for cuts to our social safety nets:

That’s why we write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.

More and more Congress critters are signing up to support this venture. In the above video, check out Daylin Leach's (PA-13) response to chained CPI fixes---errrr...I mean cuts to Social Security.

Leach: The last thing we should be doing is fixing Social Security on the backs of the senior citizens who rely on it to survive.

He's a true progressive in every sense of the word and if he's elected--will never vote for cuts against our social safety nets and that includes Obama's proposed chained CPI cuts.

Please check out our new single issue Blue America page: Saving Social Security and see if you can throw a little support to Daylin Leach (PA-13) and all our other candidates that have begun to speak out against these draconian measures.

And mucho kudos to Bernie Sanders today for delivering millions of signatures to the White House rejecting proposed cuts to Social Security.

I'll be posting more videos from our Blue America candidates as they come in who are standing up for our senior citizens when many of America's politicians are falling down on the job of protecting working class Americans.

And here's our Saving Social Security page again.



Blue America Welcomes Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)

We've been doing these Blue America live chats for almost seven years. Today we're proud to welcome our very first Republican ever, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina. Join us in the comments section below at 3pm (ET, noon on the West Coast). This isn't a fundraiser or an endorsement session, although I couldn't help noticing that last year the mainstream conservative, libertarian-leaning Jones voted more frequently with progressives on crucial roll call votes than 3 of North Carolina's "Democratic" congressmen.

If you watched one of MSNBC's presentations of Hubris in recent weeks, you must have noticed the spotlight that was shined on Rep. Jones because of the way he reached inside himself-- and reached out through his strongly held religious beliefs-- to reassess his vote for Bush's illegitimate attack on Iraq in 2002. It profoundly changed Walter Jones-- if not as a man (I barely know him enough to say), as a Member of Congress. Now you find him working across the aisle-- with sincere advocates of peace from both parties-- on issues that aren't especially partisan... just especially American. It was Alan Grayson who introduced me to him and when I told Raul Grijalva Rep. Jones would be a Blue America guest today he told me he recalled, vividly, "the long years of the Bush/Cheney machine and how hard it was to find a Republican to speak the truth. My colleague Walter Jones became an almost lone voice of reason in his party and he's stayed true to his word every day since. I'm glad to have him on our side. When it comes to real checks and balances, Congress' oversight duties, drone attacks and warmaking, he's been as right as anyone, and I'm happy to see him get the recognition he deserves for his courage."

Last year John Boehner had Rep. Jones' bill, HCR 107 (which was co-sponsored by, among others, Grijalva, Lynn Woolsey and Dennis Kucinich, as well as Ron Paul and... Louie Gohmert, who, admittedly, will cosponsor anything that uses the word "impeachable") bottled up in committee, where it died without so much as a hearing. The bill simply expressed "the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."

In November Walter Jones was reelected with a robust 63% of the vote, the biggest margin of any Republican in the state-- much to the chagrin of Eric Cantor, who had encouraged a primary challenge against him with money he got from Sheldon Adelson. Immediately upon reelection, Jones reintroduced his resolution, this time as HCR 3. This is the letter he sent to every Member of Congress explaining it, prefaced with a quote from James Madison: allowing the President alone to take the country into war would be "too much of a temptation for one man."

Dear Colleague:

Over the last 20 years American presidents have assumed powers that our Constitution does not explicitly give the commander-in-chief. From the U.S. intervention in Bosnia to the recent U.S. involvement in Libya, Congress did not authorize the use of military force. However, the president continues to send our forces into harm's way without congressional approval. To address this issue, I have introduced H. Con. Res. 3. This resolution reaffirms that the power to declare war resides in the U.S. Congress. Under Article 1, Section 8, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the president must come to the Congress to initiate hostilities. The proceedings of the Constitutional Convention make clear that the framers firmly believed that the momentous consequences of initiating armed hostilities should be decided not by a single individual, but only by concurrence of both houses of Congress.

H. Con. Res. 3 affirms that if a president, any president, violates this most fundamental constitutional provision, doing so would constitute an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article 2, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution.

I ask you to join me as a co-sponsor of this important resolution. Thank you for your consideration.

"[M]y concern has always been," he said last year, "since we were misled with the intelligence to go into Iraq, and all the number of young men and women who have been killed, and loss of limbs, that Congress needs to come back to what the Constitution says, and that is, if you’re going to commit our young men and women to fight and die, you must declare war.” This session he's also co-sponsoring a bill, HR 125 with Rosa DeLauro (R-CT) that has a fascinating genesis. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate by then-Senators Clinton and Obama. Jones simply changed the word “Iraq” to “Afghanistan.” The bill directs the Secretary of State to submit to Congress an unclassified report providing the justification for the President's decision to deny Congress its constitutionally protected role by concluding an agreement on the future of the security relationship between the United States and Afghanistan as an executive agreement." Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) have since signed on as cosponsors. Boehner has it bottled up in the House Foreign Affairs Committee where Ed Royce is sitting on it. (Brooks is also a member of the committee, as is Grayson.)




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