We Cannot Afford to Lose Jeff Merkley

There are a lot of Democratic politicians asking for money these days, some of them worthy and many of them not so much.  We appreciate all the support you've already shown this cycle for our Blue America slate and we hope you'll continue to do so. But we wanted to give a special shout-out to one of the nation's most exceptional Senators: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. We knew he was a great candidate back in 2008 and we went all out for him. And he has more than lived up to the commitment and passion he showed in that campaign. He has become one of the Democratic Party's most stalwart progressive leaders. 

Not only has he stood tall on all the important social issues, from health care to LGBT rights to the war on women, he's taken strong stands against Wall Street and the Big Banks and fought hard to preserve the signature Democratic achievements of Social Security and Medicare. You can't say that about all of our Democratic Senators unfortunately. He's been a leader on the environment and worked hard for legislation to fight climate change. And Senator Merkley is one of a very few independent-minded progressives who have taken the gutsy position of publicly siding with civil liberties advocates Mark Udall and fellow Oregonian Ron Wyden in their criticism of the Obama administration's surveillance policies. Down the line he has delivered on the progressive agenda. 

Needless to say, a record like that has caught the attention of the plutocrat wrecking crew known as the Koch brothers and they are going after him hard.

They are backing an odd duck named Monica Wehby a fairly typical tool of the GOP money machine. (She even made the fatuous claim that she wouldn't have voted for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms --- because they would have lulled the nation into a false sense of security!) Oregon may be blue but it's got plenty of red and pretty soon it's going to be flooded with green. Suffice to say that Merkley needs all the progressive support we can muster. He only won by 6,000 votes the last time and this is a mid-term where turn out is going to be key.

His campaign is running a money bomb today and Blue America has promised to help out.  If you can give something to support a real progressive who thinks independently and stands up for our principles even when it's hard, today is the day to do it. 

The bottom line is this: we cannot afford to lose Jeff Merkley. He stands at the center of the progressive Senate coalition we've been trying to build for the last decade --- with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin.

It's one thing for the Koch Brothers to take out moderate Republicans and replace them with Tea Partiers. We cannot let them defeat progressive icons like Senator Merkley.

Unlike so many others, Jeff Merkley has had our back for the past six years. Now we need to have his

Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place.

--Digby, for the whole Blue America Crew



Tom Guild Came in First in his Primary

Liberals don't always expect much from Republican bastions like Oklahoma. But Blue America endorsed an across-the-board progressive, Tom Guild, to run for the congressional seat based in Oklahoma City and thanks in part, to our members generosity, he came in first. And a couple of weeks ago Tom came out on top in a tough 3-way primary against a very conservative state Senator who is the polar opposite of a progressive. Tom walked away with 42.1% of the vote while that state senator drew 30.9% and a third candidate took 27%. Oklahoma law requires a runoff, which has been set for August 26.

To build on his momentum from the primary, Tom needs to raise $45,000 for his modest TV and radio advertising and his get-out-the-vote/field operation. Blue America is the only group helping Tom raise money and we're turning to you again for that assistance.

"We will continue to knock doors, make phone calls, put up signs, and visit with voters in the congressional district," Tom told us Friday. "We are the only progressive in the race, and have an outstanding chance to take on and beat the survivor of the Republican nominating process, which also plays out with a runoff August 26. First, we need to secure the Democratic nomination on August 26. We will continue to speak out about increasing Social Security benefits, protecting Medicare, lowering college student loan rates to the same low rate afforded to big banks, protecting civil rights, restoring voting rights, and fighting for human rights. We have momentum and history on our side. Please contribute what you can today, so that we will have the resources needed to win the runoff, and go into the general election with momentum and confidence.

Tom's 97,504 votes from the 2012 election-- the most votes for any Democratic nominee in 22 years-- is primed to turn out and vote in 2014. He isn't another mealy-mouthed red state Democrat. Like fellow Oklahoman, Elizabeth Warren, he is proud of their state's populist traditions and he is clearly from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. Tom has the best chance to be elected as the first Democratic U.S. House Member from Oklahoma City in decades.

Tom:

"Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better… The federal government currently lends to banks at very low interest rates. I support a plan to extend those low rates to student loans. Making big profits on student loans is unseemly and adds to the tremendous burden that many students graduating from American colleges and their families currently bear. Students should be treated at least as well as banks, who benefit by extremely low interest rates."

This race is well within reach, but we need to get on board to make sure Tom has the resources to win. Please click here to join us and stand with Tom Guild for Congress.



The unprincipled insiders did it again

AmatoShenna800x1067.jpg
Credit: John Amato
John Amato meets Shenna Bellows. Look at her smile! He's still Got It!

They say that no good deed goes unpunished and nothing illustrates the truth of that old trope more vividly that the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Maine Senator Susan Collins over her Democratic opponent, the stalwart defender of human rights and civil liberties, Shenna Bellows. It wasn't the first time Republicans have been unjustly rewarded with endorsements from national liberal organizations, unfortunately. But there are few Republicans who have been more lauded by people for whom she has consistently done so little than the bucket of lukewarm water known as Susan Collins.

This endorsement was particularly galling. Shenna Bellows is not just another Democrat who supports marriage equality. She has devoted her life to expanding civil rights and civil liberties. In her capacity as the Director of the Maine ACLU she helped lead the way for marriage equality in Maine and was instrumental in getting the Maine Human Rights Act passed. It's a truly bold piece of legislation, one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, which Bellows promises to bring to the national level. She has said:

The important thing we learned in Maine was to aim big and be persistent. Frankly, Congress could benefit from our example. The debate in Congress has focused for too long on weak versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which only covers employment decisions and now has such a big religious-exemption loophole that many activists no longer support the bill. As Ian Thompson wrote for Slate in April, the loophole "opens the door for religiously affiliated organizations to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people -- for any reason." That's not the stuff big civil-rights advances are made of.

I'm proud to say we've done better in Maine, and I'll do better in Washington. We need a national Human Rights Act along the lines of the Maine Human Rights Act. We need to outlaw discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and educational opportunity on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation -- once and for all, nationwide, no exceptions. Sen. Al Franken has done good work on this issue, and I can't wait to join him. The LGBT community isn't alone in worrying that its Washington allies are aiming too low.

Many immigration-reform groups rightly wonder not only why Republicans won't support them but why too many Democrats supported a weaker House bill in this Congress than the one they introduced when they were in the majority. We can't fall victim to lower expectations or lesser ambitions, no matter who controls what branch of government. Good policy is good policy, and fighting the wrong legislative fights won't get us where we need to be.

That's the kind of leadership we need so desperately in Washington --- leadership that understands that we are all in this together. If you agree, you can donate to Shenna Bellows' campaign here.

You will not be surprised to learn that Senator Collins is all for that "religious exemption." And her definition of courage is to wait until the nation has largely moved forward before she reluctantly leads from behind: it was only last week that she could summon the nerve to support marriage equality even in principle, much less to act to make it a reality.

As you can see from Shenna Bellows' comments, her approach to basic human rights and liberties stems from her clear, strong set of principles. She doesn't put her finger in the wind, she kicks up a storm and makes things happen. Maine would not have the strong protections and rights available to LGBT citizens that it has today if not for Shenna Bellows. Yet the thanks she gets from the National Human Rights Campaign is an endorsement for her opponent. With friends like these...

Shenna does have real friends, however. Shenna Bellows has been endorsed by all the national progressive netroots groups (with Blue America leading the way by being the very first to do so) and she raised more than Collins in the first quarter, which says something about her incumbent's lack of support from anyone but beltway insiders and establishment courtiers. She is getting favorable press wherever she goes. In fact, Blue America has a donor who has offered a matching donation up to $1,000 on the basis of Bellows' outstanding record on civil liberties. (Click here to help us match it!)

Shenna came out to Los Angeles last week to meet with some supporters and John, Howie and I were privileged to help host the event. It was a truly inspiring evening, and not just for us. Everyone there was terrifically impressed by her knowledge of the issues, her grasp of the politics and more than anything, her obvious passion and commitment to the principles we all share --- and which are so often poorly articulated by our Democratic establishment politicians. Howie had the privilege of introducing her to the crowd and he said it best: "we believe Shenna Bellows is another Elizabeth Warren, a gifted, intelligent communicator with an uncanny ability to explain complicated issues to the American people."

We committed that night to raise $2,000 more dollars for Shenna Bellows' campaign. Our anonymous civil libertarian donor has already met half that goal for us if you will meet him halfway.

Please give what you can. Shenna is the progressive future and we desperately need such principled, passionate and committed leaders to start taking their place in the Democratic Party.

Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place.



A Fighting Chance

We're all enjoying Elizabeth Warren's new book, A Fighting Chance and hope you're either reading it too or will soon. It makes it so clear why we're progressives and not garden variety partisans on either side of the aisle. We thought we'd share a couple of paragraphs from the book today. We pick it up just at the time we first met her, when she was deciding whether or not to run for the Massachusetts Senate seat then occupied by Wall Street's favorite-- and best funded-- senator, Scott Brown. She describes a scene on a Boston subway platform late one night:

A thin young man-- really just a kid-- in a loose-fitting suit, with a backpack slung over his shoulder, looked at me and smiled. A minute later, he came over. "Are you Elizabeth Warren?"

He was from central Massachusetts, the first in his family to go to college. He was attending school in Boston and he loved it, but he said he worried about money all the time. He worked a full-time job during the school year and took two jobs during the summer to try to cover as much as he could. As we waited for the subway, we talked about student loans, declining government investment in universities, and rising tuition. Finally, he asked me if he could take a picture. Bruce [her husband] snapped the shot on the young man's phone. The kid smiled and started to walk away, then turned around.

"I give you money every month, and I'm taking on hours so I can give you more."

I felt as if he'd hit me with a spear right between the ribs. Good Lord-- this kind was working until nearly eleven o'clock on a Saturday night and he was sending me money? I smiled weakly and said something along the lines of, "Uh, I'm doing okay in the campaign. Maybe you should keep your money. I'll be fine. Really."

He looked back at me. "No, I'm part of this campaign. This is my fight, too."

And that really was the answer. It wasn't just my campaign. My name was on the ticket, but these folks weren't volunteering and donating for me. They were supporting something a lot bigger. When I said that we were better off if we invested in the future together, they already knew it was true-- and they lived it. They thought America could do better, and they wanted it every bit as much as I did. And they would do everything possible to try to make that better future a reality.

This is my fight, too It gives me goose bumps.

Last cycle right-wing special interests, particularly Wall Street, made it possible for Scott Brown to spend $35,058,354 on his campaign. Blue America was one of the first groups outside of Massachusetts to endorse and start raising small contributions for Elizabeth Warren. She kept up with Brown and she beat him and in the end she won 56% of the votes. She's a beacon of inspiration for us today. And she very much reminds me of another woman from New England, Maine's Shenna Bellows, taking on a popular Republican incumbent.

I wanted to cry when I read Elizabeth's story about the young man on the subway platform. I want to cry tears of joy in November when Shenna beats Susan Collins and goes to Washington to work with Elizabeth for our people and our values.

Shenna can’t do that without our help. Can you see your way towards making a regular monthly contribution to her campaign between now and November?



REAL Democrats KICK ASS in Recent Primaries! Help elect next batch of Congressional Ass-kickers

REAL Democrats (brought to you by Blue America) KICK ASS! Help elect the next batch of Congressional Ass-kickers by giving what you can today. Thank you!

Although we lost some good candidates in the primaries last week, several of Blue America prospects came out ahead in tough races. Progressive state Senator, Ted Lieu, the California state legislator who was first in the nation write and pass a ban on Republican gay-to-straight "reparative therapy" and to block the state from cooperating with NSA unconstitutional bulk collection of private communication between Americans citizens, beat out two very well-financed conservative Establishment shills-- Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller-- for the Democratic nomination for the CA-33 seat Henry Waxman is giving up.

Victories by either Greuel or Miller would have been nothing short of catastrophic for the progressive movement, statewide and nationally. Although Greuel was seen as a frontrunner--with elements of the transactional Clinton machine behind her-- her viciously negative attack on other candidates backfired and just turned off voters, especially women... and especially her own.

And Lieu wasn't the only great news last week. Two other Blue America challengers won tough races. Although pundits were predicting that Bonnie Watson Coleman would come up short in her race to succeed Rush Holt in NJ-12, she ran away with the race, beating her closest rival, centrist Linda Greenstein, 43-28%. In Iowa former state House Speaker Pat Murphy didn't just win his 5-person contest, he won with enough votes to avoid a costly and unpredictable nominating convention. Like Lieu, Murphy and Coleman will now face Republicans in November, although all three are favored to win-- and become new members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The other race we were watching closely last Tuesday was the CA-17 challenge from the right by corporate shill Ro Khanna, a desperate hack financed by wealthy Republicans seeking to remove progressive icon Mike Honda. Although they will face each other again in November Honda trounced Khanna 48.6 to 27.1%.

We are sorry to see Californians Lee Rogers and Eloise Reyes out of the running this cycle. You win some, you lose some.

Let's make sure our House challengers who are already guaranteed places in November-- Paul Clements (MI), Ted Lieu (CA), Mike Obermueller (MN), Pat Murphy (IA), Gloria Bromell Tinubu (SC), Michael Wager (OH), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ) and Kelly Westlund (WI)-- have the resources they need to compete against their Republican opponents. That's something you can do here at the Blue America ActBlue page.



Domestic spying? Ted Lieu already wrote a law against it.

One of the most critical primaries coming up next week is for Henry Waxman's House seat on the Westside of Los Angeles-- Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach… Blue America did a dual endorsement for a jungle primary that will yield two finalists for the November general election, hopefully two stalwart progressives. Our picks are state Senator Ted Lieu, a proven progressive leader and champion of working families, and Marianne Williamson, an independent progressive and cutting-edge thought leader.

Ted has been the California legislature's top leader in several areas, including mortgage bank reform and protecting citizens from unconstitutional domestic spying. I spoke to him yesterday and asked him about the phony NSA "reform" the House passed last week. They voted on the so-called USA Freedom Act, a watered-down, pale excuse for reform of the NSA that passed overwhelmingly, 303-121. 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted no. I noticed that one of the Democrats working with the Republicans to pass it was Adam Schiff, who is also working to elect Wendy Greuel, one of Ted's opponents. Most of the congressmembers who are working to elect Ted-- solid progressives like Mark Takano, Mike Honda, and Alan Lowenthal-- fought the bill and voted against it, as, of course, did Henry Waxman. I asked Ted a simple question-- Had you been in Congress last week, would you have voted with Adam Schiff and the others who wink and nod at domestic spying or would you have voted the way Henry Waxman, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva and your own backers did?

His response was clear and unambiguous. "I'm disappointed Congress gutted significant provisions of the USA Freedom Act. Our privacy rights and our Constitution are not watered-down, neither should legislation that upholds our fundamental values. If I were in Congress, I would have voted NO on the watered-down 'reform.'"

Lieu comes from a military background and he doesn't take national security lightly. He's also an attorney and he doesn't take the U.S. Constitution lightly either. "I agree with the National Security Agency that the world is a dangerous place," he told us. "That is why America’s founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood there are few things more dangerous than an Orwellian government that overreaches, invades our privacy, and monitors our everyday lives. The NSA’s bulk collection program-- which seizes the phone records of every single American for seven years-- has been described by a federal judge as Orwellian. One of the reasons I am running for Congress is to stop this program and reign in the NSA’s invasions of our privacy and constitutional rights."

Other than Matt Miller, a DC-centric kook who publicly admits he supports bulk collection of personal communications, all the candidates running pay some kind of lip service to privacy rights. In Ted's case, it goes beyond posturing and promising; he's already taken action.

I am proud to author bipartisan legislation, SB 828, that prohibits California officials from supporting or assisting the NSA’s blanket spying on Americans unless the NSA has secured a specific warrant for a specific individual. The Fourth Amendment is clear: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” unless the government upon probable cause secures a specific warrant. The NSA’s blanket dragnet is flat out unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and it is time we stop this mass violation of our privacy."

Regardless of whether we have a President Bush, a President Obama, a President Clinton, a President Cruz or a President Orwell in the White House, we need principled, capable, independent-minded Members of Congress willing to stand up against the herd. That will never be a Wendy Greuel, an Elon Carr or a Matt Miller. It will certainly be Ted Lieu.

Blue America is helping Ted, who is leading in the polls, raise money for his Get Out the Vote efforts this week, and for his tough campaign against whoever comes in second next Tuesday. Please consider contributing here.



Jimi Hendrix Contest Extended In Honor Of Memorial Day

You're probably aware that we're getting into the final stretch of our Alan Grayson Jimi Hendrix fundraiser. Because of the Memorial Day holiday, we've extended it until Tuesday-- one extra day. You can get in on it here-- and possibly win the rare, collectible Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced? platinum record award.

Do you remember the Blue America-endorsed candidate in Illinois, George Gollin, a particle physicist? Unfortunately, he didn't win his primary against Steve Israel's heavily-funded mystery meat candidate, Ann Callis, who has virtually no chance whatsoever of unseating weak Republican Rodney Davis in IL-13. George, however, hasn't withdrawn form politics. He's still working to make the progressive movement stronger and this is the introduction he wrote urging his supporters to contribute to Grayson's campaign this week:

Howie Klein is a progressive political blogger who writes the DownWithTyranny.blogspot.com blog. He is also helps with BlueAmerica, which raises funds for progressive candidates. Howie passed to me a message asking for help in support of Alan Grayson, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents a district in central Florida.

I met Mr. Grayson for the first time a few weeks ago in Washington. Grayson is smart, progressive, quick, and fearless. He has advanced degrees. And he not only speaks truth to power, but willingly mocks the king who comes into the room unclad. I was not surprised that he was kept off the Democratic side of the House panel that will watch the Right make political hay from the deaths in Benghazi.

One of Grayson’s gigs is serving on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. One of the many reasons we need to help him stay in office is to protect us from the Republican crazies on SS&T. Recall that this is the committee which features Paul Broun (R-GA-10) as a subcommittee chair; Broun is the guy who declared that "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell." And before he lost his seat in 2012, Todd Akin (R-MO-02) was also a Republican member of the committee. He’s the yahoo who explained that women who have been raped will not become pregnant because "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

So I encourage you to read Howie’s appeal below, and contribute to Alan Grayson’s campaign fund.

We need better people in office than the Democratic organization will tend to support; most recently, they’ve backed one guy with a fake college degree who isn’t even a Democrat and others who appear to have been laundering campaign contributions from their parents to increase their cash intake.

I don’t plan to send you very many messages of this sort, and thank you for your indulgence, and your consideration.

best regards,
George Gollin
Champaign, IL
IL13

You can read all about the "contest rules" and contribute to Grayson's campaign here-- Any amount goes, even one dollar. And if you don't have any cash on hand at the moment and want a chance to win anyway, just send us a post card to Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as anyone else.

Writing to his supporters today, Grayson decided to put the Hendrix context into some context, "so you recognize," he wrote, "just how mind-boggling this opportunity is."

Are You Experienced? was Jimi Hendrix’s first album. Rolling Stone ranked Hendrix as the greatest guitarist of all time.

In the year that Are You Experienced? was released, the readers of Melody Maker voted Jimi Hendrix the Pop Musician of the Year. The following year, Billboard named him Artist of the Year, and Rolling Stone called him Performer of the Year.

Rolling Stone called Are You Experienced? "epochal," and rated it the 15th greatest album of all time, as well as the third greatest debut album of all time. Rolling Stone also ranked "Purple Haze," the lead song on the album, as the 17th greatest song of all time.

Noe Goldwasser, the founding editor of Guitar World, called it "the album that shook the world." He added that it is "the measure by which everything in rock and roll has been compared since."

The album was distributed by Polydor Records. When the head of Polydor first heard the album, he said, "This is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard."

The album contained several innovative effects, like "amp howl" guitar feedback and backward guitar and drum music. It was so unprecedented that when the recording studio master tapes were sent to Reprise Records for remastering, they wrote on the box "Deliberate distortion. Do not correct."

Are You Experienced? reached the Billboard Top 40-- for 27 weeks.

The Library of Congress chose Are You Experienced? as one of only fifty recordings to be added to the National Recording Registry. The archivist of the Smithsonian Institution called it "a landmark recording," because "it altered the syntax of the music," he explained, "in a way I compare to James Joyce’s Ulysses."

At the insistence of one Paul McCartney, Hendrix was invited to play songs from Are You Experienced? at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix closed the set by smashing his guitar, and setting it on fire.

I haven’t done that on the Floor of the House. Yet.

So how special is the RIAA-certified Platinum Album Award for Are You Experienced? Very special. Very, very special.

And thanks to Blue America PAC, if you contribute to our campaign this week, you have a chance to own a special piece of music history and legend, by winning the Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award. It’s your chance for Musical Paradise.

Jimi Hendrix released only seven albums in the United States. Six of them went platinum, selling over a million copies. If you have a way to get the RIAA-certified Platinum Album Award for one of those other five albums, go for it. And if you already happen to have one of those other Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Awards, then by all means, please disregard this offer. But if not, then contributing to our campaign today is the only chance that you’re ever going to have to get one.

Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t blow it.

Plus, we could use your help. Thanks.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson



Barbara Lee's First Endorsement… And The Beatles

Barbara Lee made history when she displayed the guts to stand up and say "NO" to Bush/Cheney's rush to war against Afghanistan in the wake of the 9-11 attack that embarrassed them and exposed their incompetence. She was the only Member of Congress to do so. Today Rep. Lee announced that her Barbara Lee Progressive PAC's top 8 priorities for congressional action starts with "Bringing an end to perpetual war, saving trillions of dollars and millions of lives." And in conjunction with that announcement comes another-- her first endorsement of a challenger for the 2014 cycle, fellow Californian and fellow peace advocate, Lee Rogers. 

"Lee," she said, "is a doctor, a thinker, a progressive Democrat-- and, he can win.

He’s running in California’s 25th Congressional District (Simi Valley-Santa Clarita area). It’s an open seat. And, the Nate Silver number crunchers say that it’s a district where Democrats can win. So help us put a progressive like Lee Rogers in it. She send this message out to her own followers today:

Want to know just how much of an ally Lee Rogers will be in Congress? Consider his philosophical approach from his website:

"Congressional insiders and K Street power brokers sold the well-being of our country in exchange for special deals and political favors.

"All this must stop. It must stop NOW! No more deals, no more special favors, no more double talk and political speak. It’s time to level with the voters, tell them the truth and get to the job of fixing the problems and restoring the promise of America."
This is the kind of fighting Democrat I need working beside progressives like Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Alan Grayson and me in the House. I’m contributing to Lee. And, I hope you will too.

For his part, Dr. Rogers said he is proud of the backing his campaign is getting from the California powerhouse. "I'm honored to be endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, someone who is always on the right side of the moral issues of the day. As a doctor, I must use the highest standard of ethics when treating patients. I'll make sure to bring those same ethics to Washington. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Lee to improve the lives of those in my district and our country."

This week Blue America is encouraging progressives to contribute to Barbara Lee's and Lee Rogers' campaigns by offering one randomly selected donor who gives on this page (any amount) a rare, signed Beatles portrait by the band's favorite photographer, Robert Freeman, who shot 5 album covers for them starting in 1963.

The iconic image on the cover of With The Beatles, personally signed by Freeman, is the one we are giving away this week. The image is 32" x 24" and perfect for framing.

It doesn't matter how much you give, just that you do give to Barbara and Lee on this page.



Contest! Sinatra and…South Dakota?

Today Blue America is launching an effort on behalf of prairie populist Rick Weiland, who is running for the open blue Senate seat in South Dakota. With two Republicans running against the GOP Establishment pick in the general election, this should be a great opportunity to elect a dedicated tribune for working families in what the DC pundits see as a tough race.

This week, Rick released his first television ad. You can you watch it here. Digby, John and Howie are asking Blue America supporters to chip in getting the ad seen more widely-- and you can do that on the same page you watch the ad on.

There are basically two big media markets in South Dakota. One covers the Democratic-leaning half the state (East River)-- Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell and Yankton-- and the other covers the more conservative half of the state (West River)-- Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Custer, Wall, Lead, Deadwood and Hot Springs.

This is a sample of what a typical contribution can buy in the eastern part of the state:

• $28- All In With Chris Hayes
• $35- Southern Charm
• $125- Good Morning America
• $165- Face The Nation
• $225- Wheel of Fortune
• $400- 48 Hours

And this is what we can get in the western part of the state:

• $34- The Rachel Maddow Show
• $50- Inside Edition
• $75- Big Bang Theory
• $120- The Today Show
• $150- 60 Minutes
• $300- The Blacklist

So what's all this got to do with Frank Sinatra? Well, Howie was the president of the record label Sinatra started, Reprise Records. Sinatra started it-- and Howie continued it-- as a haven for artists who didn't want to be pushed around by corporate dictators, an ethos that epitomizes Rick's "Take It Back" campaign.

Howie was awarded an RIAA-certified plaque when Sinatra's greatest hits album, The Very Good Years went double platinum… two million records sold in the U.S. alone. He's donating this gorgeous, historical collector's item to one randomly selected donor to this Rick Weiland effort this week.

The "contest" ends next Monday, April 28, at noon. It doesn't matter how much you give, just that you do give on this page.

And, for the Sinatra fans, some of the songs that are on The Very Good Years: "Fly Me To The Moon," Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You," "Luck Be A Lady," "Love and Mariiage," "Send In The Clowns," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Strangers In The Night," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and the song Howie says is the perfect theme for Rick's campaign for South Dakota, "The Best Is Yet To Come." And some of the musicians who played on this record-- Nelson Riddle, Woody Herman, Count Basie and Quincy Jones.

You want to know Rick stands for policy wise? He's a bold progressive and he sums up his political beliefs in that :30 second TV spot we want you to look at.

Remember, a little bit of money goes a long way in South Dakota, so don't be shy about making even a modest contribution.

Thanks, we are all in this together,

Jacquie for Blue America



$10.10… It's Good For Us All

Friday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich made the case that unemployment is still high and the economic recovery so turgid because of the failed European-style austerity measures being forced on the country by the plutocrats and oligarchs, primarily through their bought=and-paid-for conservative handmaidens in government.

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed.

And pay for much of this by raising taxes on the top, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and ending corporate welfare.

But none of this can be done because some wealthy people and big corporations have a strangle-hold on our politics. “McCutcheon” makes that strangle-hold even tighter.

Connect the dots and you see how the big-money takeover of our democracy has lead to an economy that’s barely functioning for most Americans.

A healthy majority of Americans-- including 83% of Democrats and nearly a third of Republicans-- supports the efforts to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. The financiers of congressional careers, however, are not part of that majority. They and their conservative puppets don't want to increase the minimum wage; they want to abolish it. And the faux-moderate position becomes, "let's not abolish it or increase it too much." You can watch apologists for the plutocrats, like Republican Susan Collins (ME) and New Dem Colleen Hanabusa trying to broker "a compromise" that leaves working families in poverty. Both represent blue states with overwhelming majorities that want a $10.10 minimum wage and both take excessive campaign money from the forces that want to hold the level down. And… both are running for Senate in November-- against tireless leaders in the fight for working families. 

Shenna Bellows of Maine and Senator Brain Schatz of Hawaii are pushing very hard for the $10.10 minimum wage increase. In fact, every Blue America candidate is pushing for the $10.10 level. 

I know it sounds a little gimmicky, but today we're asking Blue America supporters to chip in $10.10 for one or more of the Blue America candidates running for Senate.

And believe me, it isn't just Shenna and Brian. Rick Weiland, the prairie populist running for the open South Dakota seat is adamant about raising the minimum wage to $10.10. His GOP opponents, Mike Rounds and Stace Nelson, would like to see the minimum wage disappear altogether. Rick:

Political reality today is that America is being turned into a plutocracy by the ability of big money to buy what it wants from Washington, and increasingly from every other level of government as well.

Political reality today is that politicians who used to be public servants are now servants of the big money that elected them.

How else can you explain the endless array of policy decisions at every level of government that are vehemently opposed by large majorities of ordinary citizens, but are made anyway by elected officials. Think about it. 90% plus majorities of the voting public oppose offshore tax havens for billionaires and yet they persist. 90% oppose shutting our government down, yet it is shut down. Oil spills occur, dangerous vehicles are sold, banks evict families from homes they have been conned into buying, payday lenders extort poor families, all practices supported by virtually no one, but permitted to persist, even encouraged by the representatives supposedly elected by the people these things harm. Most Americans, including independents and Republicans, want to see the minimum wage rise to $10.10 but politicians in the pockets of the self-entitled billionaires are preventing it from passing in Congress.

What more can I say? Is it worth $10.10 to you to help elect tribunes of the people like Rick Weiland and Shenna Bellows?

Take my word for it, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren can't do it by themselves. We need lots more like them.

Our candidates, I can report, were not invited to the Sheldon Adelson primary try-outs. Can you help?

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby and John




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