Tell the DSCC: "Your Job is to Elect Democrats, Not Susan Collins"

I can't begin to describe how frustrating it is that the DSCC seems content to waste their resources on reactionary Blue Dog Travis Childers' hopeless attempt to win a Senate seat in deep red Mississippi (where Obama lost with 44%) while stubbornly ignoring the best Democrat running for Senate in years, Maine's Shenna Bellows-- and in a state Obama won with 56%.

Shenna Bellows is the right Democrat for Maine.

This week, Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Bellows is "way too far outside the mainstream" for Maine and that "if the Daily Kos declares statehood, Shenna Bellows would fit in well." Bellows, of course, is proud of the support she's gotten from Daily Kos and other online activists. And she asked which of the policies she's running on are outside of Maine's (not DC's) mainstream. Shenna:

  • Most Mainers I know support raising the minimum wage to $10.10;
  • Most Mainers care about climate change;
  • Most Mainers believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

These are issues where my opponent, Republican Susan Collins, and I honestly disagree… My opponent has sided with Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz over Maine voters on the minimum wage, the Keystone XL Pipeline and just yesterday, she voted against restoring veterans’ benefits.

One of Blue America's most consistent contributors asked us to express to all our other members some of his own thoughts on why now is the time to contribute to the Bellows campaign.

First off, he points out that now is crunch time. The next few weeks is when Bellows’ campaign can benefit most from increasing contributor headcount and dollars, in order to earn more attention from national media and support from national political organizations and contributors. Her campaign is on the verge of this kind of “lift off”-- or “critical mass”-- after its surprisingly fast start-up in fundraising, organization-building, endorsements and visibility-- culminating last week in national publicity from ABC News. 

The message of Bellows’ success would be all the louder because Susan Collins has been a very popular incumbent in prior elections and recent polls. But this popularity depends largely on Collins diverting attention from her positions on privacy, law enforcement drones, marriage equality and other issues, which are not evolving fast enough to keep up with public opinion among Maine’s voters, who gave Obama two emphatic wins. Small-town native daughter Bellows is well-equipped to win over even more of these voters.

And, for many of us, the most important issue, on a par with Climate Change, is the increasing scope of the surveillance state. Its becoming a plausible issue. We believe that a successful campaign by the ACLU-veteran “civil libertarian” is possible.

Bellows can send the loudest possible message to every politician and government official in Washington, DC that the ongoing Snowden disclosures are a serious concern to voters of every stripe, including swing-voting independents and potentially Democratic-voting libertarians.

Bellows’ opponent Collins, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has done virtually nothing to advance surveillance supervision or transparency, and has uncritically amplified quickly-discredited assurances about the efficacy and limited scope of surveillance. Maine’s voters include many independent thinkers who will not be impressed by Collins statements that: "the program, in which the NSA collected information on the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans 'has defeated and thwarted dozens and dozens of terror plots both here and overseas ... We should not assume a trade-off between liberty and security…'"

Let the DSCC waste their time and resources on anti-Choice, anti-equality, antigay, anti-environment, pro-NRA goons like Travis Childers. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter.

Shenna Bellows is going to be just as astounding a U.S. Senator as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Let's do absolutely everything we can to elect a real progressive fighter. Please give what you can to Shenna Bellows campaign today..

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



Chained CPI-- RIP? Now Let's Get To Work Strengthening Social Security

Last year, President Obama offered to compromise Social Security inviolability on the alter of the plutocrats and their advocates (the GOP and the ConservaDems) who want to cut-- if not abolish-- social insurance. It was a bad mistake but, lucky for America, the Republicans, who had demanded it, refused to compromise and Chained CPI wasn't adopted. This year, the president has decided to focus on his State of the Union message about opportunity as his budgetary vision. It's a reflection that the budget is falling rapidly already and would fall more if Congress passes immigration reform. AP reported Thursday that there will be no Chained CPI cuts in this year's budget-- at least not Obama's. Ryan, of course, will have that… and worse.

Part of this victory for progressives had to do with mobilizing against Chained CPI cuts, as has been reported lately in the press.

We haven't come across a single House Republican who doesn't back Chained CPI cuts to Social Security, from Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, all the way down the food chain to ineffectual backbenchers like Rodney Davis. We reached out to all the Blue America candidates and all of them oppose Chained CPI and other conservative schemes to cut Social Security. Since we mentioned Paul Ryan and Rodney Davis, let's begin with their opponents' statements. Rob Zerban (D-WI): "There is absolutely no way I could imagine a scenario where I could support a change in the calculations to the colas for for Social Security. Chained CPI is nothing more that an attempt to reduce benefits to senior citizens at a time when they can least afford it.  At this point the best thing we could do for our economy is to lower the retirement age to encourage workers to retire.  We would then open up more positions for those seeking jobs and reduce the unemployment. To make Social Security more solvent we need to remove the caps on higher income earners. I never understood why people making the most would pay less taxes for Social Security than those earning less. This is a simple fairness issue. If eliminating the caps on incomes is not enough to make the programs solvent indefinitely then we need to adjust the contribution we pay into the system to ensure that American's can retire with dignity and security."

Down in Illinois, George Gollin, the progressive alternative to Davis, sees it much the same way Zerban does:

Early in the last century, many of those who became too old to work suffered a rapid descent into poverty, infirmity, and mortal illness. The Social Security Act of 1935, which guaranteed a decent standard of living for “aged persons, blind persons, [and] dependent and crippled children,” changed this.

Eighty years ago a loaf of bread was a nickel. Without cost of living adjustments to earned benefits, the elderly would have long ago tumbled into the Dickensian nightmare of privation that is so fiercely defended by the Tea Party.

Cost-of-living calculations should include more than just inflation. We expect our spending patterns to change as we age--medical care will cost us more than it did when we were invincible twenty-somethings-- and COLA ought to take this into account. The original intent of the Social Security Act was, after all, to protect us from an irreversible slide into poverty after a lifetime of work.

But Washington is abuzz with a push to cut earned benefits, delay the retirement age, and implement a bogus inflation index called “chained CPI.” These indecent rollbacks are proposed so that someone with an annual income of $1 million will pay no more into the system than someone else with an income of $120,000.

Lifting the cap on income taxed for Social Security-- so that system is supported with a more progressive schedule of contributions-- would keep the system solvent indefinitely, and would increase taxes only on the top 5% of earners.

But that’s not how we do things anymore, with our politics awash in corporate cash that buys favors for the wealthy. Real people-- though not corporations-- are ground to dust in a down economy. Most members of Congress appear unconcerned with providing workers a decent standard of living.

It is not right for us to tolerate such a grotesque tilting of the rules.

This is a big deal across the Midwest and our other candidates from the region were as animated as Rob and George. Mike Obermueller is running for the seat occupied by right-wing fanatic John Kline in southeast Minnesota. "Social Security," he told me, "has been critical to making sure seniors can retire with dignity in this country. No program in history has been more successful at lifting seniors out of poverty than this one. That’s why it’s so frustrating that Republicans (and even some Democrats) are fixated on cutting these benefits for people who need them and who have earned them. Chained CPI would eliminate the financial stability and independence Social Security was created to provide. We have to set priorities and protecting the middle class against this gimmick should be one of them."

In the suburbs east of Cleveland, Michael Wager is running for the seat held by David Joyce, a Boehner lackey. "Chained CPI," Michael told me, "is, in fact, a cut in Social Security benefits, and undermines the already tenuous financial health of millions of Americans. Many in Washington continue to look to Social Security to address budget concerns, yet Social Security has not contributed to budget deficits. Still suffering from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, low and moderate income seniors, quite simply, should not be asked to endure reduced benefits in name of 'fiscal responsibility.'"

Another top Boehner lieutenant and committee chair, Fred Upton (R-MI), is being challenged by Paul Clements. Upton is a big Austerity booster and backs Chained CPI and other deprecations against working families in the Ryan budget. Paul does not-- in a big way: "Introducing policy schemes like Chained CPI into budget discussions is a reckless move that imperils our seniors and the economic prosperity of our nation. For years, we've watched members of our own party team up with conservatives to slash programs aiding the jobless and our seniors. More people are living in poverty than ever before and Washington continues to hurt more than help. We must work to make critical investments and strengthen programs like Social Security, not engage in more schemes that hurt our seniors."

Same for Pat Murphy, the front-runner in the race to succeed Bruce Braley in Iowa's first congressional district. He is the former Speaker of the Iowa House and he has a keen understanding of the role of leadership. "Social Security is a cornerstone of my progressive beliefs. My parents raised me to keep my word and stand up for what’s right. We’ve made a pledge to seniors who have worked hard and paid into Social Security and Medicare for decades that their benefits will be there when they need them, and I intend to keep that pledge. It’s the right thing to do. Cutting benefits to those who have paid into the program to simply make budget through 'chained CPI' is wrong.  By raising the cap for folks who make over $106,000 a year would increase solvency, have the ability to expand benefits and better serve our seniors."

The progressive candidate for the open seat in Oklahoma City (OK-05) is Tom Guild, who is of no mind to compromise away the rights of working families on this or anything.

Approximately one in five Social Security recipients has no other income. The current Social Security COLA doesn’t cover the increased costs of living for seniors. Expanding Social Security benefits would give many additional seniors peace of mind, and help them keep pace with cost of living increases. We owe it to the generation that did their part to build our country, to make good on the promise of Social Security, that they wouldn’t have to live their golden years in poverty. It makes sense and is the right thing to do to increase the Social Security stipend for our seniors. By lifting the cap on the $114,000 of income currently taxable to support the program, we can extend the life and promise of Social Security for generations past 2031. This is a concrete way that we can demonstrate our thanks to our seniors who have done so much for us.

If the national government funded just one programs adequately, it would be Social Security.  This is a proposal to adequately fund Social Security. It would protect and enhance benefits, and increase the revenue stream supporting this vital program by abolishing the cap on income subject to the tax dedicated to Social Security, and increase the dedicated tax by 1/20th of 1% for six years. This would secure Social Security for additional decades. Since 2/3 of today’s retirees receive more than half of their income from Social Security, and about 1/5th are completely dependent on this source of income, this proposal would greatly enhance tens of millions of Americans’ retirement security. It would ensure that seniors’ cost-of-living would not continue to outpace benefits received by recipients, who paid into the Social Security fund for their entire working lives. Sometimes we should just do the right thing for those who spent their lives building our country. That time has arrived.

A chained CPI would take us in the wrong direction, and take desperately needed funds out of seniors budgets. It is time to move forward, and not allow those who have tried to destroy Social Security since 1935, to take the first step toward dismantling and undermining this vitally important program protecting American seniors from poverty and hardship in their golden years.

Like Tom, state Senator Daylin Leach, the Liberal Lion of Pennsylvania's legislator, wants to expand Social Security, not cut it: "For the life of me I can't understand why the administration is buying right-wing propaganda about the need for cuts to Social Security. To be blunt, its bullshit. There is no problem with Social Security that can't be solved (and then some) by uncapping the FICA tax. At a time when private pensions are shrinking and disappearing, and people rely more than ever on their Social Security check, it is morally abhorrent to unnecessarily cut these benefits because paying higher taxes makes a few rich people sad. It's time to expand, rather than cut, Social Security benefits." And I'll close with a statement from our newest candidate, Stanley Chang from Honolulu:

Social Security is the bedrock of the safety net our seniors have earned. The current Republican efforts to dismantle Social Security are a grave and immediate threat to the livelihoods of too many families in American. Make no mistake, Chained CPI is a euphemism for deep, harsh cuts to Social Security, which keeps 22 million seniors out of poverty.

At a time when the middle class continues to struggle and there are far more people living in poverty than ever before, we need to be protecting and expanding Social Security, not cutting it. Simple, common sense progressive plans such as raising the taxable income above the current $106,000 ceiling will extend Social Security’s solvency for decades to come.

Surely we can do better than to balance the budget on the backs of working families who have worked a lifetime to enjoy a secure retirement. Social Security must be strengthened and expanded, not gutted and scraped for parts.

We've got to get this conservatives out of power and out of office and off our backs. Electing these progressive candidates is going to help.
You can do that here and keep in mind, there is no such thing as a contribution being too small.

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



LAST CALL: JONI MITCHELL CONTEST ENDS TODAY

UPDATE: Thank you to all who participated. The contest had 945 people who donated something to either Alan Grayson, Lee Rogers or Blue America, for a total of $27,572.

Details, here.

Everyone who was randomly selected is very excited and happy to win their prize, which is one of four Joni Mitchell Prints.

The winners are:

Garland Marshall, a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics in St Louis,
Paul Droluk, near San Diego
Jim Gilkeson, Orlando
Clark Newhall of Salt Lake City

Thanks again, and apologies to those of you outside of the United States, who, by law were unable to contribute. :(
******************************

At noon today (Pacific Time, so 3pm on the East Coast), Blue America will randomly select 4 "winners" of our Joni Mitchell drawing. It's been a fun little "contest" and we managed to raise around $8,000 for Congress' most essential Member, Alan Grayson, and another $6,000 for California congressional candidate with a similar progressive perspective, Lee Rogers. We feel good-- and we feel grateful to the over 500 men and women who chipped in (here>. Thank you.

If you haven't entered the contest yet, you have 'til noon at that link above. And if you want to contribute to Alan and Lee but have no interest in the contest, you'll find them both on the regular Blue America page-- along with all the other progressive House candidates we vetted so far this cycle.

But the real purpose of this e-mail is to remind you of what we're up against-- all of us.

The Koch brothers are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in Orlando to try to defeat Grayson with their regular complain of smears and lies. "Vicious, fraudulent negative ads. Money to burn. Who could that possibly be? Can you guess?" Grayson asked last week. And answered:

Right. It’s the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers are running attack ads against me. Already.

The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, are tied for fourth place on the list of the richest Americans. Each of them has $36 billion. That’s $36,000,000,000.00.

They own Koch Industries, which is one of the biggest polluters in America.

The Koch Brothers pledged and spent over $100 million in 2012, trying to defeat President Obama and the Democrats. That was roughly one one-thousandth of their wealth.

The Koch Brothers also spent $2 million to defeat me in 2010, through their front group “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP). And another $2 million through their front group “60 Plus”.

In 2012, their front group AFP printed 80,000 door-hangers to distribute in my district, condemning me for voting twice to raise the debt limit. I actually had voted twice against raising the debt limit – on the very bills that they cited. But the Koch Brothers don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, the truth is whatever they say it is.

Well, now they’re back, to try to beat me again. The ads in my district are paid for by the Koch front group “Concerned Veterans for America.” Virtually every nickel that the “Concerned Veterans for America” has to its name comes from a group called the TC4 Trust. And the money for the TC4 Trust comes from the Koch Brothers. The Washington Post and Open Secrets laid it all out, nice and neat, earlier this month. In a Washington Post article called “The Players in the Koch-Backed $400 Million Political Donor Network,” one of the “players” was “Concerned Veterans for America,” which “was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012.”
In the illustration above, Koch groups like this are called “Astroturf Agents,” “fake ‘grassroots’ groups to project an appearance of popular support for ideas and policies that benefit big corporations.”

Why do the Koch Brothers have it in for me? Is it because Slate magazine called me “the most effective Member of Congress”? Is it because Business Insider listed me as the most productive Member of Congress? Is it because I introduced more bills last year than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I passed more amendments last year-- in a Republican-controlled House-- than any other Member of Congress? Is it because I stood up against the military-industrial complex over war with Syria, and won?

Or is it all of the above?

Look, it’s clear at this point. Whoever ends up as the nominal Republican nominee in FL-9 this year is simply a placeholder. A proxy. A surrogate. It’s going to be me against the Koch Brothers.

As I explained yesterday, we need reach our voters, to dispel the Koch Brothers’ lies. And whether we do it through TV ads, radio ads, internet ads, mail or even yard signs, it all costs money.

I need your help, and I’m going to need it all of the time between now and Election Day. Not once-- all the time. If you haven’t contributed to our campaign yet, then you need to start now. If you have contributed, then you need to do it again. If you aren’t already contributing monthly, then you need to do that-- because these rotten attack ads against me are going to run monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. And if already you contribute monthly, God bless you for that, but please consider upping the ante.

This is serious. I need you to pitch in. Every dollar counts, because I count, and you count.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson



Kochs/Fox Aiming to take Alan Grayson Out-- Joni To The Rescue?

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Koch brothers are already pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads meant to demonize Alan Grayson and defeat him in November. Fox "News" is targeting him again as well. That these powerful entities are shoveling their vast resources towards Grayson's defeat is good news… Because it proves he's succeeding at the job we sent him to Congress to do!

Today, Blue America is launching a Joni Mitchell contest to help raise some campaign cash for Grayson's reelection in the very expensive Orlando media market.

Grayson also requested that we ask our donors to give to Lee Rogers at the same time, a friend and political ally running a tough campaign to win the seat Buck McKeon is giving up just north of L.A. "I like Lee Rogers," Grayson explained. "But that’s not why I’m asking you to support his run for Congress."

I respect Lee Rogers, because he is the doctor who founded and directed the Amputation Prevention Center, and reduced amputations by 72%.  But that’s not why I’m asking you to support his run for Congress.
 
I know that we need a progressive doctor like Lee Rogers in Congress, to help Drs. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) counter the demented ravings of Drs. Paul Broun (R-Paleolithic), Scott DesJarlais (R-Patient Dating), Michael Burgess (R-Fetal Wanking) and Larry Bucshon (R-Guns).  But that’s not why I’m asking you to support Lee Rogers’s run for Congress.
 
I’m asking you to support Lee Rogers for Congress, because we have to win a seat like his to turn the U.S. House of Representatives blue.

…Please contribute to the Lee Rogers for Congress campaign today. Every dollar counts, because every person counts.
 
Do it for Nancy Pelosi, to make Nancy-- the first female Speaker of the House-- Speaker once more. Do it for me, so that I can push through all of our legislation for justice, equality and peace. Do it for yourself and the people you love, so that all of us can enjoy the blessings of good government.

This time we're running the "contest" a little differently. The basic rules are the same: just contribute any amount to Alan and Lee on this special Joni Mitchell page-- or, if you're strapped for cash and want a chance to win, send us a post card telling us so at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

What makes this contest different is that we're giving away 4 Joni Mitchell art prints (18" x 24") and Grayson suggested that we choose four random winners! Everyone has a lot better chance to win one of the rare, collectible Joni prints-- four times better-- that have never been offered for sale for any amount of money.

Let me just leave you with something Lee Rogers told us about Grayson: "As a doctor, I know most people use their guts for digestion. But, Rep. Alan Grayson uses his guts for a more constructive purpose. He stands up for the voiceless and underrepresented as a Congressman. Sadly, unless you're one of the 0.01% that donates significant money to fill the coffers of politicians, you're probably one of those underrepresented by Congress. Alan is your voice. I greatly admire Alan for having the guts to stand up to nearly everyone and almost single-handedly prevent an American war in Syria. He's bold and "tells it like it is." Those are qualities I hope to emulate in Congress and I'm honored to have his support in my election."

Again, here's where you can support Alan Grayson and Lee Rogers and enter to win one of the 4 Joni Mitchell prints. One is pictured, above.



PA Progressive takes 55% of the vote in a 4-way race for May Primary

PA's Liberal Lion gets 55% of the vote
Yesterday two more important progressive groups, MoveOn and the Philadelphia Chapter of DFA (Philly for Change), joined Blue America and the PCCC in backing state Senator Daylin Leach in his bid for the open congressional seat (PA-13). In the May 20th primary Daylin will face a crowded field of garden variety Democrats who are endorsed by Big Money interests. Republicans have no shot in this deep blue seat, so the bad players are backing conservative Democrats who will play ball with them. It would be a very bad day if one of these guys take the seat.

It's a dynamic not unlike the one in the Silicon Valley high profile primary (CA-17) where Big Business interests are backing ConservaDem Ro Khanna against progressive champion Mike Honda because they know a Republican has no shot there either. Creeps like Wall Street predators Marc Leder (Romney's 47% host) and Peter Thiel appreciate Khanna's vow to cut Social Security-- which is very much like Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky's similar pledge. The most unsavory elements of the corrupt Philly Machine are backing her. This was the MoveOn vote:

• Daylin Leach - 55%
• Marjorie Margolies - 17%
• Valerie Arkoosh - 15%
• Brendan Boyle - 13%

The Matea Gold piece in yesterday's Washington Post, exposing how the Koch brothers are trying to buy elections all over the country-- with millions of dollars in poisonous, inaccurate ads targeting Democrats, isn't about Democratic primaries, but the dynamic is similar. Big Business is playing against progressives and working to elect their own crooked conservative candidates like Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky in Pennsylvania and Ro Khanna in California.

This week Blue America is attempting to help raise some grassroots campaign funds to help Daylin fight back against this influx of corrupt money. The Hooters have customized and autographed a hooter for one lucky contributor on this page. Everyone who contributes to Daylin's campaign-- any amount-- is eligible to "win." In fact, if you want the hooter and find yourself strapped for cash, send a post card to Blue America at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have a chance to win too! We'll do a random drawing next week. One of Daylin's colleagues in the state legislature, Brian Sims, the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania history, endorsed him in with as much enthusiasm as Blue America, the PCCC, MoveOn and DFA: "Daylin," he told us, "introduced Pennsylvania's first marriage equality bill (back waaaay before it was cool); Daylin co-chairs the LGBT caucus in the Pennsylvania legislature; and just last month stood with a Pennsylvania teacher who was fired just because he married his partner. That's why I'm supporting Daylin on his run for Congress. We NEED Daylin in Washington where issues (like ENDA) are currently being debated and will effect the lives of millions of Americans."

We agree, you can contribute here on the regular Blue America House candidates page or here on the special page that registers you to win the hooter.

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



HOOTERS Stand Up for the "Liberal Lion" and you could win this HOOTER!


A few days ago our pals at the PCCC endorsed Pennsylvania "Liberal Lion," state Senator Daylin Leach for the open blue seat in Montgomery County and Northeast Philly (PA-13). "Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren have proven that bold progressives in Congress can change the national conversation. Daylin is one of those game changers," said Adam Green of PCCC. "When Wall Street front group Third Way attacked Elizabeth Warren and Social Security, Daylin could have remained silent-- especially since his outgoing Congresswoman, Allyson Schwartz, was a Third Way Chair. Instead he denounced Third Way and demonstrated the kind of clarity and bold leadership we need in Congress."

Daylin has an astounding record in the Pennsylvania state legislature and helping get him into Congress is one of Blue America's most important goals this cycle. And it isn't just the folks at PCCC and Blue America who have noticed. Favorite sons, The Hooters, are big Daylin fans too. Lead singer Eric Bazillian, a neighbor, told us "Daylin Leach has never, to my knowledge, used an untested combination of drugs in an Execution By Lethal Injection. Pretty cool! In all seriousness, I couldn’t ask for a better friend or political leader. He embodies these qualities every day in his work as a public servant, which is why I want him to be our next Congressman." Kids these days! These particular kids, though, have contributed their band's name-sake, the hooter pictured above-- customized and autographed-- to Blue America to help us raise some campaign funds for Daylin.

This is how it works: just go to this page and contribute to Daylin's campaign-- any amount-- and you'll be eligible to "win." In fact, if you want the hooter and find yourself strapped for cash, send a post card to Blue America at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have a chance to win too! We'll do a random drawing next week.

By the way, Daylin is also a Hooters fan. He explained that he "was struck by how much energy and sense of melody they had. They quickly became one of my favorite bands. It’s a real thrill to now have a personal friendship with Eric Bazillian and his wonderful family." But whether you're as big a fan of the Hooters' music as Daylin or not, this is the kind of congressman he will make-- and why The Hooters are so enthusiastic about him:

"I've been a member of the ACLU since I was 18 years old. I taught and practiced Constitutional Law and named my daughter Brennan after my favorite Supreme Court Justice. Civil Liberties mean a great deal to me. I have seen no evidence that the results of the NSA spying program in any way justify the intrusion inherent in such a program. Our Constitution guarantees individualized suspicion that we have done something wrong before we are investigated. The NSA data collection program flies in the face of that basic right. It's time we rebalance our approach to place more emphasis on respecting basic liberties."

So whether or not you like music, the fact that you're reading this here probably means you're CRAZY about having more candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson in Congress. That's exactly what having Daylin Leach in Congress means. So, we ask that you give what you can today to help get him elected. Who knows? Maybe you'll win the hooter too! Thanks so much for all you do.

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



You want populist policies? Elect Populist candidates-- like Pat Murphy in Iowa

Pat(left) poses with Randy, a team Murphy volunteer. He goes out in this Iowa winter to help us get supporters signed up to vote by mail. Randy has already collected over 70 VBMs! Help us get Pat to Washington by donating what you can to the campaign today.

If you can, please chip in to help get Pat to Washington.

In October, Blue America endorsed Pat Murphy, the progressive candidate in the battle for the open Iowa congressional seat Bruce Braley is leaving in the state's northeast corner, IA-01-- Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Decorah. It's a D+5 district and the winner of the primary will be going to Congress next year.

Murphy was the former Minority leader and then the House Speaker and has proven himself to be a dynamic and capable progressive champion. He managed to raise the minimum wage, block the Republican jihad against LGBT equality and was able to raise the cigarette tax $1 and put it into children's healthcare. He also expanded stem cell research in Iowa, expanded family planning services, and created universal pre-school for 4-year olds in his state.

Pat has been reminding voters there that "the first bill I passed as Speaker of the House was a minimum wage increase, and we are past due for an increase at the federal level." And he was just warming up! He wants to see the minimum wage raised to $10.10/hour.

“I grew up in a proud union household, during a time in America when you could raise a middle class family if you were willing to work hard. Too often now, hard work isn’t enough-- either because the jobs are scarce, or you need two or three of them just to put food on the table.

"I’m running for Congress because I’m tired of Republicans in Washington undermining our middle class while rewarding big corporations that outsource our jobs. Republicans showed that they are willing to shut down the government to score political points, but they aren’t willing invest in America’s workforce. They say we need to create jobs but pull the safety net out from under workers who haven’t found work… [O]n top of that we need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. This isn’t a woman’s issue; this is a middle class issue. Middle class families pay the price when women are paid less than men. The wage gap can’t be explained with education level or occupational choices. It’s a systemic problem that impacts American families.

"We need to stop harmful trade policies like the Trans Pacific Partnership from being passed. This is the wrong move for American workers and the wrong move for business. We need fair trade in this country, not free trade."

There's not an issue we've found that we don't agree with Pat on. And, better yet, he's a skilled legislator with an incredible record of accomplishment who knows what it means to work across the aisle without betraying the values and trust of working families. We need strong, smart principled leaders like Pat Murphy in Congress to counterbalance the Wall Street-financed conservatives who keep getting reelected year after year. If you can, please chip in to help get Pat to Washington.

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



Open seat in California--Let's turn it BLUE!

Friday morning the PCCC officially endorsed Lee Rogers and Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, under the eye-catching headline, "A Dem Candidate Who Would Expand O'Care And Social Security," went beyond the Beltway conventional wisdom/claptrap and got to the heart of why the race in the Santa Clarita, Antelope and Simi Valleys (CA-25) is so important for progressives.
Yesterday, GOP Rep. Buck McKeon, a longtime member of Congress and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, announced his retirement. The move could pave the way for an interesting experiment, one that could provide a glimpse into how progressive policies play in a swing district that’s already very difficult for Democrats.

The Democrat vying for the seat is Dr. Lee Rogers, who not only aggressively embraces Obamacare, but wants to expand it to achieve “universal” coverage, and even wants to expand Social Security. In an indication of what this candidacy might look like, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which supports Rogers, notes that he champions “Medicare access for all,” and in a PCCC email going out today, Rogers says: “I’ll fight to allow people to buy into Medicare. I’ll push for Medicare to negotiate drug prices to lower costs. And I promise to help bring us closer to universal healthcare coverage.”

…Make no mistake, this one will be a steep climb for Dems. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report doesn’t think Rogers has a shot, because a big chunk of the district is made up of Latino voters among whom turnout could drop off in a midterm election. “This district has unique voting patterns that more or less doom his candidacy from the start,” Wasserman says.

However, it could still be an interesting test of progressive messaging at a time when public worries about inequality and declining economic mobility seem to be rising. ”If he gets more than 45 percent than he got in 2012, maybe that’s a sign his message was effective,” Wasserman says.

Whatever his chances, the race is worth watching, partly for the simple reason that Rogers’ support for expanding Social Security is a relative rarity among Dem candidates. The issue is emerging as an increasingly important issue for progressives, one central in the debate over whether the Democratic Party should embrace a truly economically progressive platform. It’ll be interesting to see how expanding Social Security (and Obamacare) play politically, given that many Dems have shied away from such positions-- even as there is strong public support for protecting social insurance and the safety net.
In the past, we've written about DCCC Chairman Steve Israel's "mystery meat" candidates. Israel warns candidates to not take controversial stands on big issues, especially not progressive stands. When I asked one freshman who ran as a progressive and then joined the Wall Street-financed New Dems and started a distinct pattern of voting against the progressive agenda she ran on, she was very frank and told me she had followed the DCCC's instructions to freshmen "100%" and that that was how they told her she could be reelected (in her D+3 district that Obama won with 56 and 54% in 2008 and 2012).

Friday, when Israel was crowing about McKeon's resignation in a press release, he didn't even mention Rogers' name, even though Rogers beat McKeon in the Antelope Valley in 2012-- the fastest growing third of the district and an area McKeon had never previously lost-- and even though many members of the California House delegation have been Rogers' most vocal and persistent champions.

Israel: “Congressman McKeon is getting in a crowded line of Republican moderates who are abandoning John Boehner’s broken Congress so that they don’t have to defend their party’s indefensible priorities to the voters. Congressman McKeon’s retirement puts yet another Republican-held seat into reach for Democrats, as he joins the likes of Tom Latham, Jon Runyan and Frank Wolf and others in rejecting the irresponsible behavior of their party. In this competitive district, Democrats will stand behind a candidate who is dedicated to working across the aisle to solve problems for hardworking California families and who will put a premium on creating jobs and growing the middle class. Meanwhile, Republicans are already facing yet another divisive primary where they will compete in a brutal race to the right.”

Buck McKeon, a "moderate?" Only in a topsy turvy Beltway universe where "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel could be head of the DCCC. McKeon is a radical right ideologue whose political positions are very extreme across the board. He was the financial go-to person in the Mormon jihad against LGBT equality in California. He has consistently and unwaveringly voted against women's rights, against unions, against economic security for working people, against basic human rights, against environmental sanity.

Sargent's point is well-taken. What would happen if grassroots Democrats like Rogers-- and like the rest of the Blue America endorsed candidates-- who espouse the actual values and principles of the Democratic Party, were the ones who were financed by the DCCC, instead of the conservatives Israel has dug up? For one thing, voters would have a real choice on election day, something conservative Democrats like Israel fear to the core of their being.

Please join us today in reaffirming Blue America's three-year old determination to turn CA-25, not just blue, but PROGRESSIVE. You can do that by contributing to Lee Rogers' campaign here.

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



Last Blue America Contest Of 2013-- And It's All About Minnesota… And Depeche Mode

Keith Ellison stood out as a principled, values-driven progressive when he was a member of the Minnesota legislature. Blue America backed him back then, hoping for more of the same in Washington. And we haven't been disappointed. Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, Keith is one of the only Democrats on a leadership track who speaks to the interests of ordinary working families. As Raúl Grijalva told us, "Keith, above all, isn't posturing. He deeply believes in and relentlessly fights for progressive values and equality for all… He is a real person for these unreal times, and I support him every chance I get."

Keith is one of the few Members of the House Financial Services Committee who doesn't kowtow to the banksters and, unlike many of his colleagues, Wall Street doesn't finance his reelection efforts. When Blue America offered to help him with reelection expenses, he thanked us and asked if we could also help Mike Obermueller, the progressive Democrat running against John Kline in the district next door. We are happy to oblige.

Today is the first day of a week-long drive to raise some campaign funds for Keith and Mike-- and Blue America is going to give away a beautiful, classic, RIAA-certified double platinum award for the album Violator.

One lucky random donor on this ActBlue page will get that special prize as a gift from Blue America-- regardless of how much you contribute.

In fact, if a contribution is too much of a stretch right now, you are still eligible to "win" by sending a note to us at:

Blue America
PO Box 271201
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Easy rules, right? So is Keith's proposed Robin Hood tax.

"While the Tea Party pushes to slash government investment, Congress has ignored simple, progressive revenue options that could help us grow our economy. One solution would be my Inclusive Prosperity Act, also known as the Robin Hood tax, which will add a tax of a fraction of a percent on transactions made by the same Wall Street firms and stock traders who crashed our economy in 2008. Forty countries have a similar tax, as did the U.S. until 1966.

"This tax alone will generate up to $300 billion a year in revenue, stabilizing the deficit and allowing us to invest in the things that matter-- like roads and bridges, and health care for our seniors.

"The American people stepped up to help Wall Street because they thought it would protect Main Street. But what has Wall Street done in return? Give itself bonuses and exorbitant pay? Tried to repeal Dodd-Frank protections? No, it’s time for Wall Street to help out with Main Street."

And Mike sees eye to eye with him on economic justice. "Congressman Ellison," he told us, "is talking about putting justice back in our system. I, too, want to make sure everyone has a fair opportunity in this country. Those who can afford to pay more should step up so that those who are less well-off have a chance at success. Congressman Kline wants to pad the pockets of the wealthy, while ignoring the inequality that still exists in this country. We can do better and I’m committed to making sure we actually do."

Whether you're a Depeche Mode fan or not, please help us make Minnesota even bluer by contributing to Keith Ellison's and Mike Obermueller's campaigns today.

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



Making Marijuana Legalization Part Of The Progressive Agenda

With Your Help, Heather Mizeur Can Be the Best Governor Ever

Last summer, Blue America first endorsed Heather Mizeur for Governor of Maryland. If she wins, Heather would be the first woman governor of Maryland and the first openly gay governor in the country. But as she says, she’s not running to make history, she’s running to make a difference. And over the past several weeks, we've been noticing that her campaign has been living up to the progressive dream we knew her candidacy would be.

In Maryland, the gubernatorial candidates pick their lieutenant governor before the primary, and Heather wasn’t afraid to make a bold choice-- she now has a progressive change agent by her side. His name is Delman Coates, an African-American pastor who runs an 8,000 member church. But he’s not your typical reverend. He played a significant role in the 2012 campaign for marriage equality in Maryland, speaking at rallies and appearing on TV ads. His works stretches to several social justice issues, including common sense gun reform, immigration reform, health care, and voting rights, and has been recognized by the ACLU.

Heather released her 10-point jobs plan and it reads like a progressive wish list. She proposed a millionaire’s tax, with the revenue going to income tax cuts for 90 percent of Marylanders. She wants to turn Maryland’s minimum wage into a living wage-- $16.70 by 2022, with sizable increases along the way. She even wants to close corporate tax loopholes and use the money to give small business tax rebates. And her plan also includes paid sick days for all workers, more funding for job training and adult education, and the building of major transit projects, schools, and bridges.

Most recently, Heather has called for marijuana legalization, drawing a clear line of distinction between her and her establishment opponents. While there is now sizable public support for legalizing marijuana, our politicians haven’t caught up. But Heather took the bold step of not only supporting it, but also pledging to make it a gubernatorial priority when she gets elected. And what would she fund with the $157 million in annual tax revenue? Universal pre-k.

This is why Blue America was so excited to endorse her candidacy during the summer. With our help, Heather will be one of the next great leaders of the progressive movement. Can you imagine what Maryland would be like with a progressive income tax system, a $16.70 an hour minimum wage, paid sick days, universal pre-k, and legalized marijuana?

You can donate to her campaign on our Blue America page for gubernatorial candidates.

In the past, Heather has told us she wasn’t interested in business as usual at the Maryland State House, and that she wasn’t willing to settle for the status quo. "Whether it’s a $16.70 an hour minimum wage or progressive tax reform," she explained, "my campaign is about putting people over conventional politics. It’s about returning Annapolis to the people of Maryland, and taking it back from the special interests and party leaders." We asked her about her very bold marijuana initiative last week.

My proposal to legalize marijuana in Maryland comes from these values. Maryland had the third most marijuana possession arrests proportionally of all states-- over 23,000. It’s easy to see that this system is not working. By legalizing marijuana we will save tens of thousands of people from unnecessary run-ins with law enforcement, imprisonment, or worse.

Marijuana's time as an illegal substance has run its course. Marijuana laws ruin lives, are enforced with racial bias, and distract law enforcement from serious and violent crimes. Our criminal justice system should keep people safe, treat them fairly, and use limited fiscal resources wisely. Legalizing marijuana is the first step to ensuring that happens.

Marijuana criminalization costs our state $281.7 million every year without making us any safer. A Maryland with legalized, regulated, and taxed marijuana will mean safer communities and fewer citizens unnecessarily exposed to our criminal justice system.

It will also provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education. The new annual revenue will provide 23,625 children with a full day of prekindergarten. Our plan will help ensure that prekindergarten is available to all children in our state.

This campaign is not just about me-- it’s about what we can do when we all come together. The election won’t be won by special interests, lobbyists, or backroom deals in Annapolis. It comes down to which candidate’s vision creates a large enough movement of people to win on Election Day and then lift our communities up when we govern.

You'll find comprehensive plans for all of her proposals on her website.

If you believe in this kind of progressive vision, please consider making a small contribution to help her turn these plans into real results for Maryland’s families-- and to help her set an example for what governors can do across the country.

Thank you!

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




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