How about electing a frugal yankee with the right priorities to congress?
In the people's corner Ann McLane Kuster
On election night 2010, when progressives around the country were pummeled and defeated, one race kept us all up late, hoping against hope that we'd have a memorable victory among the defeats. As it turned out New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district candidate Ann McLane Kuster lost to Charlie Bass that night by only a few votes, but showed that even in a GOP tsunami she had what it took to compete as a progressive. So naturally she's challenging Bass to a rematch in 2012.
This time there's no doubt about what she's up against. Bass has turned out to be a very typical Republican by voting to end Medicare and then whining about semantics when Democratic groups called him on it. He's collecting money from all the usual suspects, notably energy and insurance companies who have business in front of the energy and commerce committee, along with practically every other lobbyist from tobacco to Walmart. It didn't take him long to put his hand out and start collecting the big bucks from the corporations and the 1 percent.
She's running a grassroots campaign with an army of progressives on the ground and around the country who are anxious to see a "frugal yankee" put these priorities to work for the people:
I believe we need to cut wasteful government spending -- like the billions in subsidies for oil companies, the corporate tax breaks for moving jobs overseas, and the billions more spent on redundant weapons systems that our military leaders have identified as wasteful and unneeded. But instead of these cuts, the US House of Representatives is cutting what we need most: education, public safety, and the clean energy research that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It makes no sense. America can do better than this -- so, it's time for all of us to do something about it.
We are very excited to once again endorse Ann McLane Kuster for the congressional seat in New Hampshire's second district and are pleased that she has accepted our invitation to join us for the first Blue America chat of the 2012 campaign this Saturday at 2pm est and 11am pst at Crooks and Liars. Please join Annie and us for a freewheeling conversation about her campaign, the state of politics and her plans to help us all create a better country for the 99%.
I bet you're getting inundated with letters from candidates begging you to meet their phony, basically meaningless deadlines. Blue America is going to ramp up soon with new progressive candidates-- some who we already know, like Darcy Burner (WA), and new ones we've met over the last few months like Franke Wilmer (MT) and Patsy Keever (NC). Meanwhile, we're not going to hustle you for contributions to meet these "deadlines."
We've had a good 2011 but, as you know, 2012 is an election year and in November we'll be electing not just a president but also the entire House and a third of the Senate. As always, we'll leave the presidential race alone and concentrate on Congress, mostly the House-- although we have endorsed outstanding progressives Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin.
Right now we want to send our best wishes for 2012 and say thanks for the help in 2011. If you can handle it today, two of our best House candidates, Ken Aden, who's running in northwest Arkansas, and Joe Miklosi, who's running in suburban Denver, can really use some contributions. As you can see we haven't really been able to make any kind of difference for these two yet. It would be great if we could bring their totals up over $1,000 each.
UPDATE FROM HOWIE:
This letter was sent out yesterday afternoon to our donor email list. We had 20 people who responded to the letter before midnight and and we want to thank them very much. Now--
We're very close to some goals I set for the end of the year for our candidates:
Blue America has met several of it's end of year goals already (Chris Donovan, Nick Ruiz, Ilya Sheyman) and we're tantalizing close to most of the others. We're $199 away from what we hoped to raise for John Waltz, $193 away from Norman Solomon's, $109 for Alan Grayson, only $39 away from Joe Miklosi's, $61 from Mary Jo Kilroy's, only $18 for Eric Griego, $220 for Ken Aden & a slightly more daunting $490 for Ed Potosnak. Can you help with anyone? Here's the link: http://is.gd/dbWDHu
Again, thanks to everyone who contributed and to those who make the phone calls, use Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about these fantastic Progressives and help get more of them elected to Congress.
We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America team
We're going to do something a little different today here at DownWithTyranny. In honor of Thanksgiving we're going to dedicate the entire day to explaining why we're thankful to one candidate for Congress, Alan Grayson. Last week, Blue America sponsored an intimate, free-ranging chat with Alan and we've cut it up into bite-sized pieces. All during the day we'll be posting short clips from that chat. Hopefully, at least one will encourage and animate you to contribute to Alan's campaign on our Blue America ActBlue page. Last time Allen ran Blue America raised over $100,000 for him, and the average contribution was around $43. There were lots of $5 and $10 contributions as well. They all add up. Right-wing front groups-- many funded by the Koch brothers-- poured more cash into attack ads against Allen than any other Member of Congress. They hate him; and he doesn't run from their hatred.
I'd like to start with a short clip where Alan neatly defines his politics and explains in 3 words why he's running for Congress and what his governing philosophy is. I found this very powerful when he said it. What do you think?
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.- Jesus Christ from Matthew 19;24
Watch that video above of Colorado state Rep Joe Miklosi announcing his candidacy for the congressional seat passed from Tom Tancredo to an even further right crackpot, Mike Coffman. When he ends it with "God bless you," he means it. The first time I spoke with him, we spent more time talking about Jesus' message than I've talked about with every other candidate Blue America has ever endorsed-- not because we endorse people who don't embrace Jesus' message... just because it isn't a topic progressives usually talk about publicly. But Joe isn't "usual." As his campaign motto says, "not your ordinary Joe." Before I tell you what his favorite Bible verse is (the one above is one of mine), let me tell you how I met Joe.
Gloria Totten heads up Progressive Majority, an organization that does on the state legislature level what Blue America does on the congressional level. She told me about Joe months ago when he was considering running. "Joe is an outstanding progressive who has stood firm on the progressive issues we care most about," she told me. "He is a proven leader who is committed to building our movement for the future-- as Progressive Majority's Colorado state director, Joe helped 60 progressives win state and local office. We were proud to support Joe in his bid for the State House and I'm thrilled to back his campaign for the U.S. Congress. Trust me, Washington, DC needs more public servants like Joe-- smart, energetic, committed and passionate for the people."
For the people... and more. This is one of Joe's favorite Bible verses. It comes from the prophet Micah who Christ quoted when asked what does the Lord require of you? You probably don't hear many on the "religious" right espousing this one:
To love justice, to seek mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord.
Joe is perfectly comfortable talking about messages from Jesus like that-- even if conservatives (see my favorite Bible verse up top) have tried to coopt Jesus for their ideology of selfishness and bigotry, greed and hatred. "This theme," Joe told me this week, "has motivated me to pursue public policy that is more fair and just for every person. It clarifies, for example, my stance to repeal the unjust ‘Don’t Ask, Don't Tell’ law because all people should be able to serve in the United States military regardless of how they were born. The aspiration toward these goals helped to inspire my sponsorship of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act beneficiaries are good kids, who play by the rules, earn good grades point averages and want to contribute to our society. By creating educational and workforce development opportunities for students we can energize and empower individuals and families and grow our economy for all Americans."
Who would Jesus kill? Joe doesn't seem to find Jesus wanting to kill anyone. "I oppose the death penalty because we can do better as a society," he said. "We have killed innocent people as DNA testing has verified. We disproportionately kill people from communities of color, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently confirmed. A person rightfully convicted of murder or heinous act should spend the rest of their life in prison."
Prison is pretty horrible. But our business elites have behaved (badly) knowing full well that the chances that they-- regardless of what they do-- aren't likely to spend much time there. So what about Wall Street? What about OccupyWallStreet. I asked Joe what he thinks about the whole movement. His response:
"In regard to Wall Street and economic reform, I respect those that take peaceful action to advocate for an economy that rewards hard work, encourages innovation and investment in education, retools Americans, and produces livable wages.
"We can not allow Wall Street elitists to break the rules, change the rules, and keep moving the goalpost, away from hard working families. Because of Wall Street greed and arrogance in 2008, millions of families were robbed of the dreams they worked and saved for, our nation was hobbled, and the Wall Street crowd sauntered into Washington to rewrite the rules again-- to give themselves a bailout. That’s not thrift, it’s theft.
"It is amazing to see so many inspired people-- from and for various points of view-- advocating for change and a fair financial system."
We're going to have Joe over in the comments section (below) today at noon (Mountain Time, 11am here in L.A.) to talk about his campaign and why he's running for Congress. I hope you'll join us. And I hope I've presented Joe attractively enough so that you'd like to help him beat that crackpot Coffman. You can do that here on the Blue America page.
We had been planning to spend our Blue America session today talking with an old friend, Alan Grayson, but Alan suggested we move his date back and talk with another old friend, North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller. Blue America isn't looking for incumbents to endorse this cycle--unless they're really good... and really in trouble. Brad has been really good for a very long time and the Art Pope-funded North Carolina state legislature just cut his district to shreds, pushing him into a tough primary. He needs help. When Grayson suggested we have him here today he told us that "Brad Miller is exactly what people hope that their representatives will be: thoughtful, independent, selfless, smart, and completely committed to their wellbeing. There are very few Members of Congress who are willing to tell a well-connected lobbyist to get lost; Brad is one of them." But we knew that from last time we had Brad over for a chat.
Brad serves on the House Financial Services Committee-- the reason he and Grayson were pals-- and once disquieted many of his colleagues by writing
“The interests of the financial industry and those of working- and middle-class families appear irreconcilable. That doesn't leave much room for consensus. Congress may just need to pick a side: the financial industry or working- and middle-class families. Why not put it to a vote?”
That's not a vote conservatives-- of either party-- are eager to ever see happen. This week Brad introduced the Freedom And Mobility Banking Act of 2011 in response to the new policy of big banks punishing consumers with higher debit card fees. It aims to give real choices by modernizing and streamlining the opening and closing of personal checking and savings accounts. Brad:
"As megabanks flirt with menus of new fees, an increasing number of Americans will want to switch banks. That is the way things work in a competitive, free market as unrepentant banks are still trying to rake in vulgar profits from their customers... Because of financial reforms, banks are unable to rely on the cash flow of practices like double-cycle credit card billing, compulsory overdraft programs, or unregulated debit swipe fees. Bank executives are coming up with some innovative ways to protect their offensively large salaries.”
Even if you didn't get a small-print notice in the mail, you probably read that HSBC informed its customers that it is eliminating their free checking accounts which will now carry a monthly maintenance fee of $15. Wells Fargo, one of the four largest consumer banks in the country, also eliminated free checking and, most recently, Bank of America, one of the largest recipients of U.S. taxpayer bailouts, announced it would charge customers a new $5 monthly fee for using their debit cards-- even if it’s for a single $2 purchase.
While other members of the Financial Services Committee were currying favor with banksters and their lobbyists during the writing of reform legislation, Brad was the leader of the small progressive contingent fighting-- against these well-heeled interests-- to protect consumers. Just listen to his floor speech above. He has always seen his service on consumer protection as an opportunity "to comfort the afflicted. And my work on science and technology oversight gives me the chance to afflict the comfortable." A frank interview on the mortgage crisis in the NY Times business section didn't exactly endear him to the Big Money interests on Wall Street or K Street. "These mortgages were not designed to increase homeownership; they were designed to trap people in debt and strip the equity in their home as home prices appreciated. For the financial industry, that increasing wealth from middle-class homeowners was an attractive target; if they could trap families in a cycle of borrowing every three years or so, then a lot of increased wealth in their homes would end up in the financial sector rather than with those families."
"Mr. Miller recognizes," opined Gretchen Morgenson, "that his is an uphill climb because the big banks have many friends in high places across Washington. 'Americans have come away from this persuaded that everything has been done to help the banks and not to help them,' he said. 'And in a democracy, that's a real problem'."
Outspoken and straight-shooting, Brad didn't run and hide when the Republicans started shrieking "Class War!" He came right back at 'em:
The right dismisses concerns about income inequality as “class warfare.” Yet it has played the middle class’s economic anxieties for political advantage by stoking resentment of the poor. The right is happy now to have a high-stakes struggle over whether to cut Social Security benefits of the top three-fifths to spare the benefits of the bottom two-fifths-- with no one questioning that benefits must be cut.
But that’s the wrong fight. The correct fight would put 99 percent of Americans on the same side of the barricades.”
And when Grayson told us Miller was one of the only Members of Congress who tells fat cat lobbyists to get lost, it's something his own constituents are well aware of and have admired him for. “I’m frustrated with how hard it is to get things through. I’m frustrated with how much influence, how much power, some of the industries that should be completely discredited still have. I had hoped for more of a hundred days kind of public support; that given where the economy was, given how much how had gone wrong, that there would be a strong force behind some pretty fundamental reform. Certainly, getting consumer protection through is a knife fight." That was in 2009. Please join us below in the comments section at 2pm (ET) to talk with Brad about what's happened since-- and where things are headed next.
And, again, if you'd like to help keep a deserving incumbent in Congress-- and there aren't many-- you can do so here.
There weren't many progressives who got dragged under in the Tea Party tsunami-- or more appropriately, in the stay-at-home malaise from the Democratic base that practically wiped the GOP-leaning Blue Dogs off the map. But several of Blue America's best old friends were among that tiny handful-- Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Carol Shea-Porter and Mary Jo Kilroy. This week Blue America is very happy to be endorsing Mary Jo once again. And the great news is that in their rush to lock in an unfair Republican electoral map, the state legislature has created one super-blue district based around Columbus... the heart of Mary Jo's old seat. She's off and running and Blue America wants to help her get back into Congress. So do Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, who endorsed her on the same day she announced she would run. She'll be joining us for a live chat here in the comments section (below) today at 2pm (ET). You can contribute to her campaign here at the Blue America ActBlue page.
One of the things that first attracted us to Mary Jo is that she came roaring into Congress and immediately flew in the face of both party establishments by voting against the Bush TARP bailout, which she recognized as an unwarranted giveaway to the Wall Street banksters. Today she's still hammering home what she was saying then:
"We must focus on jobs and the economy. It is time we re-invest in America. Build roads, bridges and rail. Help our manufacturing sector revive. Provide strong job training programs. Expand VISTA and Americorps so young Americans can work to improve their neighborhoods, parks and coastal areas. We need to help those long term unemployed to get back in the workforce.
"It is time to stop giving tax breaks to the most privileged of our society and to end tax cuts for billionaires who pay a lower rate than their secretaries and end the tax loopholes that send our jobs overseas.
"It is time for the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They have benefited while working people have been hurt in the economy over the last decade. As Elizabeth Warren was so correct in
pointing out, they benefited from the teachers who taught their workers, the police and fire fighters who protect their homes and businesses, the public roads they use to take their products to market. When I was in Congress I called for a vote-- before the 2010 election-- on ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and voted against extending that tax cut.
She went from championing working families inside Congress to working on a grassroots level in the campaign to defeat Kasich's anti-labor legislation. "Teachers, police and firefighters," she emphasizes, "did not cause the problems with Ohio's budget."
I asked her about the healthcare reform bill that she supported in the House. She called it "a start, a beta version" of what she envisions. "In the last Congress, I voted against the anti-choice Stupak amendment. I pushed to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions are able to access care. I was disappointed in the failure to include a public option. I know there is more work to do to make health care affordable and accessible."
Today Blue America wants to give away a thank you gift to one lucky, random donor-- a rare autographed promo picture of SpongeBob SquarePants-- the one up top-- signed by Tom Kenny, the voice of the superstar TV character. As you probably know by now, it's another end-of-the-quarter mad dash for contributions in DC. You've probably gotten e-mails from candidates and the DCCC and the DSCC and DNC and lots of others telling you how important it is that you donate-- and donate NOW. Go for it. Blue America will be introducing our newest candidate this Saturday here at 2pm (ET/11 am, PT) and that's the only e-mail we're planning on sending out this week.
Now this contest... it's just a fun thing. Contribute to any Blue America candidate on our House page over the next 24 hours and you'll be eligible for the thank you gift. Any donation to any candidate or any combination of candidates between now and 2pm (PT) tomorrow will make you eligible to be the random winner of something any kid (or stoner) you know would totally kvell to have. It's a win-win-- especially with Christmas coming up.
You know what I love for Blue America? When we find a perfect candidate and he or she is running against a perfect villain. Michigan's 6th district offers us just that combination this cycle and I want to introduce you to Democrat John Waltz, a movement progressive, who's taking on cartoonish plutocrat, Fred Upton, the Whirlpool heir who has always treated the district as though it were a feudal fiefdom. Upton, by inheritance one of the richest members of the House, was appointed to the SuperCommittee by his crony John Boehner because Republicans know he will never agree to anything sensible that can in any way help dig the middle class out of the economic mess the modern day Robber Barons, in their unparalleled greed, have created for the rest of us. Today the man we hope will finally retire Upton from political life, John Waltz, will be joining us for a live blog session here in the comments section at 2pm, ET (11am, PT).
A 34 year old Iraq War vet, John is a completely dedicated champion for a commonsense progressive agenda, born and raised in Kalamazoo, the heart of the 6th district. It's a district Bush won in 2000 and 2004 with, respectively 52 and 53%. In 2008 Obama took the district 54-45%. When I started talking to John about this race this summer, he told me he feels Upton is alienating his constituents with his conspicuous, if defensive, move towards the Tea Party. "I fully expect him to propose privatizing Social Security, gutting Medicare, gutting the VA budget, working to get rid of the EPA, all to protect tax cuts for the 1,400 millionaires who didn't pay a dime in income taxes last year... and to do so again and again while normal people shoulder the load." John Conyers, Michigan's most progressive political leader, was out of the box endorsing Waltz.
Although Waltz has a lot to say on every major issue facing America today-- and all of it is spot on-- his campaign is all about getting the economy working again for ordinary American families. Talking to him this week, I didn't gather he was from the Tim Geithner/Rahm Emanuel/Harold Ford end of the Democratic Party.
The last ten years we have been transformed into a nation that has been brainwashed into thinking that they will one day be millionaires and that only their needs matter. The shame we bear as a nation is that we were unified by the tragedy on 9/11. It was short lived though and the last ten years will be remembered in history as the decade our economy was systematically looted by Wall Street, which was enabled by politicians in DC.
Instead of focusing on getting folks back to work and getting our economy back on its feet we have been lulled by the constant cries that we need to fix our deficit. The only deficit we need to fix is the chasm between the rich and the rest of us. While the middle class (what is left) and the poor are clawing away at just paying the essential bills, keeping a roof over our heads, and sending our kids to school, millionaires are basking in the glory of a government that coddles their every need. This is not the America I know, you know, or the one I thought I was fighting for when I joined the military.
Connie & John aren't gay, but I bet a right wing mob would boo them anyway
Tomorrow afternoon, Michigan Democratic congressional candidate John Waltz is being formally endorsed by Blue America and he'll be blogging with us at Crooks and Liars (2pm, ET). Ohio Democrat Connie Pillich won't be doing a Blue America session until the end of October. Both, however, have something in common that I want to share with you now. Connie and John both enlisted in the military. Connie served in the Air Force during the Gulf War. John served in the Navy and saw action in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Both, like all good Americans, were horrified at the spectacle last night at the Fox Republican "presidential" debate when the audience booed an active duty America soldier asking a question. But the ignorance and bigotry of the audience was one thing... how about these men and a crazed woman who want to be Commander-in-Cheif of the United States Armed Forces? Not one had the decency-- or the courage-- to stand up to the vile booing mob of louts in the audience. Romney may have looked embarrassed, but he didn't raise a well-sculptured eyebrow.
"It is quite obvious that Republicans are fully committed to hatred and blatant racism," John told us this morning, "which became quite evident at the debate last night. Not one presidential candidate uttered a peep about the hateful and homophobic booing of a gay soldier in Iraq. I challenge any Republican or Tea-liban member to sign up for the military and get shipped over there and see if they have any complaint when a gay or lesbian soldier is protecting their lives.
"I know during my time in the service we had a massive fire and several of us were pulled out by a lesbian and not one of us stopped her to ask if she was sleeping with a man or woman that night. This behavior is despicable and should never be tolerated. The repeal of DADT was a major step forward in civil rights for our nation and anyone that is willing to serve our nation to protect our freedoms should never be discriminated against."
John Waltz is the kind of candidate Blue America is backing this year. I hope you'll come by tomorrow and meet him. If you'd like to donate to his campaign, you can do it here at our Blue America ActBlue page.
Connie serves in the Ohio state legislature and lately her battles have been around the legitimate aspirations of working families and keeping the Republicans from doing away with democracy in her state. Previously she served in support of both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. "I find it reprehensible that any American would jeer any American soldier who simply reported for duty. All of our members of the Armed Services deserve our respect and support. And anyone running for president who will necessarily become Commander-in-Chief ought to defend and support all of our troops against such malice." Connie isn't up on the Blue America page yet (soon), but you can contribute to her campaign here for now.
Last July Chris Donovan, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, wrote a powerful guest post at DWT, It's long past time to start rebuilding America. At the time, we pointed out why Chris is the kind of leader progressives long for.
He's not just good on the issues, he understands the mechanisms of power that create public policy. He's not the kind of progressive that sits around being right and not getting anything done. That's why he holds the top position in the Connecticut legislature, and that's why the Connecticut legislature has been taking such cutting-edge positions on issue after issue at a time when reactionaries like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Bob McDonnell, etc. are dragging their states backwards.
Chris is running for the U.S. House seat in the western and central part of the state (CT-5) being given up by Senate-bound Chris Murphy. It looks like his opponent will be a crazed teabagger, Mark Greenberg, a firm believer in ending Social Security and Medicare so corporate taxes can be further cut and the estate tax on multimillionaires can be eliminated. He's wrong on every single issue-- from the environment and women's Choice to gun control and national security.
But, like I said, Chris is not just right on every issue; he's been a leader on every issue. He led the successful fights in the Connecticut House to pass 12 minimum wage increases, implement the strongest campaign finance reform legislation in the country, allow all Connecticut students to pay instate tuition rates through the CT DREAM Act, create the first statewide paid sick leave legislation in the country, ensure marriage equality, end discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity, decriminalize marijuana, and implement a municipal pooling of health care and prescription coverage that will save both the state and its cities and towns money-- the first step on the path to a public option for Connecticut. Dream candidate? Absolutely-- and Blue America's latest endorsed candidate-- and very much worth helping elect to Congress!
Like every candidate Blue America has endorsed this year, Chris has told us that jobs is the single most important issue voters in his district are concerned about. If you listen closely, though, Chris isn't using Republican Party/Inside-the-Beltway framing to discuss it. He's very much an advocate for public sector jobs and for the government playing a vital role in the general welfare of the nation. "Our private industries and small businesses need customers," he told me yesterday, "at the same time that our towns and cities need teachers, nurses, and public safety workers. Instead of calling for more jobs to be cut, Republicans and pundits in Washington and Hartford should join progressive Democrats in investing in quality jobs with strong benefits that benefit our communities. We need more teachers, more firefighters, more construction workers, and more nurses. The Republicans in the House claimed to be running on a jobs agenda in 2010-- more than 240 days and zero jobs bills later, it’s time for them to honor their promises."
Above is a video of Chris announcing his campaign last week. He went right to protecting Social Security and Medicare from ravenous Republican class war fanatics. "When I hear that the Inside-the-Beltway crowd is talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, I am outraged. These programs make America what it is, a country that cares-- about our seniors, about our children, about our people. That’s what I’m going to fight for in Congress-- to protect our future, to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to make sure they are around to protect our grandparents and our grandchildren."
Chris will be joining us for a live q&a session in the comments section below today at 2pm (ET). I hope you'll come over and meet him and hear what he has to say. And, if you can, please consider giving him a hand in the only district in New England Republicans are targeting for a blue to red switch. You can contribute to his campaign here.