The GOP Would Rather Fight Science Than Climate Change

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Credit: Wakely Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Why Blue America Endorsed Adrian Garcia For Congress

As we mentioned the other day, Adrian Garcia, is one of the bright lights in the 2016 congressional election cycle, a true public servant for over three decades, first as a police officer, then as a city councilman and later as sheriff of Harris County, third biggest sheriff's department in the country. He has pursued a career in public service to help his community, which had no strong voice fighting for it-- and doesn't really have a strong voice fighting for it in Congress either.

He told us that as a young man, each summer he'd return from school to play basketball in the neighborhood, and his group would lose another friend, another school mate, another neighborhood kid-- lose them to drug use, dropping out of school, joining a gang, etc. Adrian decided that he wanted to work to be a fighter for his community because everyone else had a voice and it seemed nobody was there to speak up fight for them.

Adrian is running for Congress because the people of TX-29 need an active, progressive, effective voice in Washington. Nobody can look at the statistics in the district objectively and think things are ok. 91% of the people in the district-- the ship channel area, Aldina and north Houston, Cloverleaf, Galena Park, Pasadena, and the East End-- don't have a bachelor's degree. Over 50% of students in the district have been dropping out of high school. Over 54% of people in the district don't own a home. Over 24%-- including over 33% of children-- live in poverty. If you ask people who have lived in this district for the last 2 decades, they'll tell you nothing has changed. The bad schools are still bad and the good schools are out of reach. College is nothing but a dream. Day to day life is about mere survival-- economically and socially.

Adrian is working to build a movement within his community to create a new direction. He's asking voters in TX-29 to take a hard look within in their communities-- to see the failing schools, increased gun violence, crumbling infrastructure, and a stagnant economy-- and to realize and embrace that they deserve better. He believes his district needs a change in tone and action. He understands the problems facing voters at their kitchen table because he lived them. He has decided that he cannot stand idly by while another generation of kids gets lost to the cycle of poverty and violence. As an elected official, he believes it is his job to be a proactive fighter that breaks that cycle-- to build a movement block-by-block to show the communities that life can be better and that they can have representatives who take action to solve problems, not just take votes on issues.

Gene Green has been a right-of-center Democrat since 1992. The Energy Sector contributes primarily to Republicans and right-wing Democrats. Since 1992 he has taken $1,221,738 from the sector, more than any other Democrat in the House other than Majority Whip Steny Hoyer. In return, Green carries their water and protects their interests from his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. He was an aggressive advocate for war against Iraq and lied on the House floor about Saddam Hussein being responsible for 9/11. He is widely considered one of the worst of the pro-pollution Democrats in Congress and consistently takes the side of special interests rather than consumers and working families.

Since he spent so many years in law enforcement, we asked Adrian to write a guest post about gun violence and solutions to that particular plague. Below is his guest post. If you'd like to help him replace Gene Green in Congress, please consider a contribution to his campaign at the Blue America ActBlue page.

Common Sense Gun Safety Reform In Houston, In Texas, Across America
-by Adrian Garcia, candidate for Congress (TX-29)

I would like to thank Howie, and the whole Down With Tyranny/Blue America community, for giving me a platform to talk about a very important issue: common sense gun safety reform.

As a 30-year law enforcement veteran-- first as a police officer and then as County Sheriff, I’ve come face to face with gun violence, and can tell you Harris County would be safer with common-sense gun safety legislation. When I started on the beat in 1980, police officers were facing .22 caliber pistols; today, they are facing semi and automatic weapons with armor piercing rounds.

One reason I am running for Congress because our country needs to take serious steps to address our problems with gun violence and our unregulated access to weapons of war. In our country, we lose 90 people a day to guns. In 2015, over 60 people were killed by guns in TX-29, including several children who were the victims of accidental gunshots. In Harris County, gun related incidents are now the second highest cause of accidental child deaths. Just in the last week, Harris County has lost two children to accidental shootings. In 2015, there were 582 fatal and non-fatal shootings in the Houston area-- the highest number for any Texas city. An ABC-13 review of Houston Police Department press releases shows at least 87 of the 162 murders in the first six months of 2015 were gun-related. That number is likely higher as the cause of death is not always noted in press releases.

President Obama is right when he says "enough is enough." We need to, and can, find reasonable and practical solutions to the proliferation of military-style assault weapons without impeding constitutionally-protected rights for law abiding citizens. As for armor-piercing "cop-killer" ammunition and similar items, I don’t want that type of weaponry on the streets of Harris County. Our laws should protect good law-abiding citizens and support law enforcement, not allow weapons to so easily fall into the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. When I am elected to Congress, I will be a loud and a strong ally with our next Democratic President in the fight to finish the President’s mission.

That means mandating background checks on everyone who buys a gun, regardless of where they buy it; closing legal loopholes in prosecuting gun related crimes; requiring states to provide all criminal and mental health records to the FBI to provide for more comprehensive background checks, and closing the terror gap to prevent individuals on the no-fly list from obtaining firearms. I will work with other members to ensure that we appropriate enough funds for the FBI and ATF to hire more officers to help speed up the background check process and engage in proper enforcement of violators.

All gun sellers need to be licensed to sell guns. Anyone who sells more than 2 guns in a year is considered a seller. Last, Congress should be encouraging new smart gun technology to improve gun safety, utilizing technologies such as fingerprint scanners and research new and innovative ways to prevent gun violence.

President Obama has been forced to seek Executive Action because Congress has failed. And my opponent, Congressman Gene Green, is part of the problem. The NRA helped elect Gene Green in 1992 and he has never forgotten them. During his career, he has:

  • Voted against the Brady Bill, which prevented over 2 million gun sales to those who should not be in possession of a weapon.
  • Voted to repeal the Assault Weapons Ban.
  • Voted against mandating child safety locks.
  • Voted for keeping the gun show loophole.
  • Voted to grant gun manufacturers and gun sellers blanket immunity.
  • Signed on to a letter with Texas Republicans to prevent the restriction of armor-piercing bullets

It is no wonder the Congressman has a lifetime "A" rating from the NRA; he is their favorite Democrat in Congress. He is part of the reason President Obama has had to use Executive Action to protect our people. When House Democrats reclaim a majority, the NRA will still have Gene Green in their pocket to block progressive gun safety measures. He has been their insurance policy.

President Obama wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed that he would not campaign for any candidate-- Democrat or Republican-- who did not support common sense gun safety reform. We shouldn’t have to accept this in an 80% Obama district. There is no excuse-- I am asking you to take the President’s stand a step further-- help me defeat the NRA’s favorite Democrat.

Adrian Garcia is a former City Councilman and Harris County Sheriff. He is running for in the Democratic Primary for Texas’ 29th Congressional District. To learn more about Adrian's campaign, go to http://www.adriangarcia.com . and to contribute to his campaign... this is the place.



Blue America Welcomes Beto O'Rourke

At the end of May, progressives and reformers had a big win in Texas to celebrate. Texas? Well... sort of sure. El Paso is its own unique little corner of Texas, closer, some people like to say, to Los Angeles than to Houston. And in a different time zone from the rest of the state. The big victory was undeniable-- an entirely grassroots campaign by a reform-Democrat on the El Paso City Council, Beto O'Rourke, that swept away longtime Congressman and Machine Democrat Silvestre Reyes, a cog in the Military Industrial Complex wheel.

When I asked Beto what topic he would most like to discuss at our Blue America chat at today (noon, El Paso time, 11am, PT) he didn't hesitate for a moment, although it's a topic a lot of Democrats shy away from: immigration. Beto, 39 years old and the father of 3 small children, is a 4th-generation El Pasoan, a graduate of Columbia University who returned to El Paso and started a technology and media company downtown--not to mention the band, Foss with Cedric Bixler-Zavala who went on to play in At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Cedric went on to other bands-- and Beto went on to City Hall, winning 3 elections as a no-nonsense reformer, where he opposed vigilante Minutemen groups on the border, opposed the wasteful and failed so-called "war on drugs," and pushed through a forward-looking downtown revitalization plan. He was effective and controversial and his enemies kept trying to recall him... but readers of El Paso's biggest weekly voted him the city's Best Elected Official-- beating both Mayor John Cook and, ominously, Congressman Silvestre Reyes.

TX-16, Beto's district, is one of the bluest in Texas. When most of the state was giving McCain a 55-44% landslide over Obama, El Paso voters gave Obama a solid two-thirds victory. Both Gore and Kerry also won in TX-16 while most of the state rallied around its former governor. Beto's victory in the primary stunned DC insiders. They saw a business-as-usual member of their own corrupt little club fall to a steely-eyed reformer. For Party bosses that's scarier than the opposite party winning a seat, which probably explains why the DCCC is completely ignoring Beto's race. That has a lot to do with why Blue America is stepping in with a fill throttle endorsement and why we're asking you to help us make sure he beats the Republican candidate who hopes to flood the district with corporate money.

Beto's adamantly pro-Choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-immigrant stands have angered the haters and bigots and they're determined to defeat him. The DCCC is uninterested in helping. You think they want to hear things like this?

"El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua are home to over 2.5 million people from all over the hemisphere, and together we form the largest bi-national community in the world. This is where Latin America and North America meet, where cultures, economies, families and histories come together.

"The numbers alone are staggering: $80 billion in trade and millions of pedestrians and automobiles cross the five international bridges that connect our two countries annually.

"But our imprint on history is incalculable.

"It was in this bi-national community that the Mexican revolution was planned and launched; it’s here that millions of immigrants first experienced this country as they made their way deeper into the United States, making El Paso the Ellis Island for those coming from Latin America; and it’s El Paso’s history of tolerance and progressiveness that has broken so many national barriers when it comes to race and ethnicity (we elected the first Mexican-American mayor of a major city in 1957; we won the NCAA basketball championships in 1966 with the first all-black starting five; and we were the first city in the former Confederacy to desegregate places of public accommodation).

"Our connection to each other and our isolation from the centers of power, in Washington D.C. and Mexico City D.F., have made us stronger, more self reliant, and less influenced by the conventional wisdom from our respective country’s capitals.

"It means that when we look at the issues related to the border-- issues like immigration, security, trade or Plan Merida-- we understand them better than any community in America, because we live them.

"When D.C. wants to build billion-dollar walls to keep people out, we know it’s money wasted that could be better spent connecting our two countries. When we invest in military helicopters and drug war materiel in Mexico, instead of in schools and social infrastructure, we know that we are condemning our neighbor to more violence and failed policies.

"We see immigration as a huge benefit to this country-- one that fuels our economy, enriches our culture and helps positively define who we are, both to this country and to others around the world.

"We know that we’re offered a false choice when asked to decide between security and mobility. We understand that cities like ours, with large immigrant populations, are the safest in the country.

"Whether you look at it through the prism of economics, demographics or culture-- we are the future of this country. I look forward to sharing a positive vision of the U.S./Mexico border and helping ensure that the best values of our party and our country are reflected in our national policy."

Beto is part of the future of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, part of the future of a new Texas and part of the future of our dynamic country. Please help him write history in November.



C&L's Late Nite Music Club with Los Lonely Boys

(guest blogged by Howie Klein)

Hilda Solis is one of the dozen most progressive members of Congress. She represents East L.A. and the burgeoning suburbs around it and she's as energetic and filled with verve as her revitalized district.

Tomorrow at 11am, PT, she's the Blue America guest at Firedoglake. Somehow while she was telling me about the work she had been doing to help put a stop to the systematic and brutal murders of women in Ciudad Juárez (just a couple blocks from El Paso) in her capacity as head of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, we got off on a tangent. We started talking about how music can be such an uplifting and healing part of life for people. She told me how early on Shakira's music had been such a big deal for her and how Los Lobos was something she still loves listening to.

But when I asked her to pick a song for the LNMC, she honed in on one she first heard when she was down in El Paso, a song that became an international smash by a Texas band from San Angelo: "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys. (Note from Nicole: Our more astute C&L LNMClubbers will remember that we've featured this song before, but this was Rep. Solis's choice and we're so happy to have her working with Blue America, that we don't mind repeating it.)

Don't forget to go over to FDL and meet Congresswoman Solis tomorrow; she's the bomb!




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