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 George, however, hasn't withdrawn form politics.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



We Need Members Of Congress Who KNOW Something

Earlier this month we introduced our newest House candidate, Illinois particle physicist George Gollin. This link goes to the TV ad he's trying to get up on more stations across the sprawling district that goes from Bloomington and Champaign, straight through the Illinois farm belt to the northern suburbs of St. Louis. The election is a week from Tuesday, March 18, enough time to show that ad to the undecided voters who will cast the decisive ballots in this hotly contested race. Can you help him do it?

Even before scientist/Rep. Rush Holt announced his retirement from Congress, a friend of mine put together this explanation of why it's important to help Gollin win this race. He was making an argument that was the exact opposite of the argument for confirming Nixon failed Supreme Court nominee G. Harrold Carswell-- later arrested for trying to have sex with random men in public toilets in Tallahassee and Atlanta-- that was made by Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska. Hruska, no rocket scientist himself, is remembered for this one statement he uttered in his 22 years in the Senate, this one about Carswell: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos." Well, I think we can try. We certainly have a very, very long way to go. 

Thoughtful people in the House are really getting tired of listening to people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the dirty little secrets of Congress is that many of them legislate in areas in which they are utterly bereft of knowledge. If ignorance is bliss, then some of the Members must be deliriously happy. (No wonder Sen. Ted Cruz is always smiling!)

Seriously, we have Members on the Agriculture Committee who couldn’t tell a plow from a harvester. We have Members on the Science Committee who couldn’t tell a proton from a photon.  We have Members on the Foreign Affairs Committee who couldn’t locate Indonesia on a globe if their lives were at stake. And we have Members on the Intelligence Committee who are as dumb as...

Well, you get the idea. And don’t even ask me about the Ethics Committee.

So that’s why we're supporting George Gollin for Congress, and why you should support him, too. He actually knows stuff. Lots of stuff.

Even worse, to the extent that Members of Congress know any stuff at all, it’s always the same stuff. According to Roll Call, out of the 435 Members of the House, we have 187 businessmen, 156 lawyers, and 77 educators. Do the math. That leaves 15 Members.

For four years, Alan Grayson worked as an economist. As far as we know, he's the only Member of Congress who can make that claim. Roll Call did not uncover anyone else. And believe me, whenever he starts to talk economics in a Congressional hearing, the eyes glaze over. Quickly.

But don’t worry. Whenever we need an expert opinion on something, we can turn to the three former talk radio hosts in the House. (It was four, until one got caught snorting-- possibly selling-- cocaine.) Or perhaps we can benefit from the expertise of the former professional football player-- whenever it’s third and nine on the Floor of the House.

This is why we need George Gollin in the House. The man actually knows what he’s talking about.

George Gollin is a physicist. In the 70s, he worked on muon scattering, to test quantum chromodynamics theory. (We're not making this up.) In the 80s, he studied neutral K meson decay, to test for CP violation. (I swear that this is true.) In the 90s, he measured the production and decay properties of heavy quarks. (I kid you not.) Since then, he has specialized in the design and construction of electron-positron colliding beam facilities. (This is indeed bona fide.)

So we can elect George Gollin to Congress, or settle for yet another lawyer/businessman tool. What do you think? And as you consider that question, also consider that the U.S. Department of Energy spends roughly $10 billion a year in taxpayer dollars on physics research, with no one in Congress qualified to do oversight on that effort.

Members who serve on the House Science and Technology Committee tell me it's bleak, really bleak. A few months ago, one of the Members on the Committee said that evolution is “a lie straight from the pit of hell.” Most of the Members are climate change deniers. One friend of our on the committee keeps encouraging them to transfer from the House Science Committee to the House Religion Committee, and follow their true calling. (There is no House Religion Committee, but their eyes light up anyway.)

The progressives on that committee need George Gollin’s help there-- and in Congress. So we should help him get there.

Here’s another really good thing about George Gollin-- he’s a liberal Democrat, and he’s not afraid to say so. In fact, that’s exactly what his TV ad says-- that he’s a proud progressive Democrat. For that reason alone, he deserves our support. A progressive who is proud to be a progressive-- how refreshing! I hope that this catches on.

Maybe Congress always will be crawling with witless lawyers and businessman, like vermin. But if someone like George Gollin can win, then maybe not. Maybe there is hope.

…Help George Gollin win his primary next month… because George Gollin has both a head and a heart.

You can contribute to Gollin's campaign on the Blue America '14 Congressional candidates page. Please do.



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.



Time For House Democrats To Find New Leadership


Enough of this crap

All the House Democratic leaders, from conservatives like Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Joe Crowley to "liberals" like Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn and Xavier Becerra, are working to round up votes inside the caucus to back Obama's plan to bomb Syria. Pelosi became leader of the Democrats because she stood up to Bush and Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt when they asked Congress to approve plans to attack Iraq. Most Democrats joined Pelosi against that war-- and that ended Dick Gephardt's political career. That was a very different Nancy Pelosi than the one leading House Democrats today.

On the other hand, we still have plenty of Democrats in the House strenuously opposing the war arguments-- Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee are three excellent examples. Pelosi announced last week that she has no intention of ever being Speaker again. The vultures waiting in the wings-- Hoyer, Wasserman Schultz, Crowley-- to take over the leadership of the House caucus would all be catastrophic for the Democratic brand and for grassroots values that make someone a Democrat instead of a Republican.

It's time to start thinking about electing a leader of the House Democrats who is NOT a conservative and who is not a pillar of institutionalized Beltway corruption.

The way WE can help that process along is to elect more progressives to Congress who will not be beholden to the Steve Israels, Steny Hoyers, and Debbie Wasserman Schultzes. It's imperitive that we help elect people who will be open-minded about electing caucus leaders like Grayson, not yesterday's stale leftovers like Hoyer and Wasserman Schultz. A grassroots progressive in Oklahoma, Tom Guild, is an independent thinker and is going to have an open mind. "Syria is a basket case," he told us, "with heartbreaking tragedies piled one on another. The [Assad] government is evil and much of the opposition is affiliated with enemies of the United States. We should tread carefully and make sure we are not drawn into another war without end. American cannot be the world’s policeman, and we have paid a heavy price trying to do so."

Nick Ruiz, a professor who once ran as a Green, is the progressive Democratic candidate in the Orlando area running against GOP warmonger John Mica, also gave us a position just before Obama announced he would ask for a congressional vote before attacking.

"Why not conference and engage the Syrian leadership and factions-- and Iran, along with Russia and China for good measure? Before drones and Tomahawks, bombs and killing; as an alternative to the stereotypical language of violence that the world is so tired of hearing. Let's talk about it; not naively, but intensely; let's argue about what's happening in Syria, with the Syrian leadership and rebellion, their neighboring ally Iran, and advocates of sovereignty: Russia and China. We get it. We understand boundaries and sovereignty. And we ought to thoroughly understand rebellion, having been borne of it... The world's interests are better served with an eye toward de-escalation, rather than aggravation and aggrandizement... My vote would be NO on assaulting Syria.

"As Democrats we know better than to fight unjust wars; we do not leave the poor defenseless, nor erode civil rights or ignore social injustice. We helped to define these vital, democratic concepts in the modern era. When our leaders change for the worse, and seek to lead us toward the lowest common denominator, then we should thank them for whatever good they've done in the past-- but must tell them 'No, we will not follow you there, and further, you will not lead us any longer.' It is a crucial time when one must have the good sense to choose new leaders. But it's now true: that time is upon us."

As the other, better-known, progressive political leader from the Orlando area, Alan Grayson said, "Nobody wants this, except the military-industrial complex." We need a new generation of leaders to represent the Democratic Party, not the money-driven Establishment shills who have more in common with their Republican House colleagues than they do with grassroots Democrats.

Please consider supporting the 2014 Blue America candidates for Congress.

As you can see, we've recently added three new ones, Tom in Oklahoma, plus Danielle Adams in North Carolina and Paul Clements in Michigan. Clearly, Washington needs new leadership-- leadership that is rooted in the Democratic grassroots. Electing candidates like this to Congress is a healthy first step.



FEC Quarter Ends Today; Should You Care?

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE From Congressman Grayson

To whom does Haliburton give money?

Not me.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

 Give the $tudents the same deal as the banks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Heroes And Villains: Massachusetts Senate Race

Massachusetts will pick a replacement for Senator John Kerry on June 25, although it's likely that the winner of the Democratic primary on April 30 will pretty much have it locked up. All of the top tier Republicans who looked at the race-- ex-Senator Scott Brown, ex-Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, ex-Lt. Governor Jane Swift, ex-Governor William Weld, ex-state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei and a bunch of Romneys-- quickly declined to run. If enough of the petition signatures they turned in are deemed valid, the 3 Republicans who will be on the primary ballot-- ex-Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez. ex-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Michael Sullivan and the one non-ex, state Rep. Daniel Winslow-- don't really offer a serious challenge to either Democrat running, Ed Markey or Stephen Lynch.

So it comes down to a battle between Congress' sharpest and most stalwart fighter for a sane Climate Change policy, progressive Ed Markey and a run of the mill conservative Democrat, Stephen Lynch, who's made a name for himself as an anti-Choice fanatic and GOP kiss-up in their culture wars. Example: on Palm Sunday, 2005, when Tom DeLay called Congress, back for a special session to exploit Terry Schiavo's tragedy, almost all the Democrats in the House ignored him and refused to take part in his circus. 102 Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, stayed away, including Ed Markey. Lynch could barely wait to get back to Washington to cast his vote with DeLay and the Republican necrophiliacs.

More recently, we watched Congress tackle the issue of Sequestration. Markey, along with virtually all the progressives in the House, voted against the policy. There was tremendous pressure from the White House-- exerted by pro-Sequestration party leaders Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- for Democrats to toe the line. Markey refused. No one needed to twist Lynch's arm. He was one of the 95 Democrats who went along with Boehner and Cantor and voted for this disastrous policy. That vote tells you a lot about who Stephen Lynch is and who Ed Markey is.

Yesterday we looked at how Sequestration is part of an orchestrated plan to nudge panic reluctant Americans into accepting a Simpson-Bowles version of the failed European Austerity agenda and how progressives are fighting back against that potentially disastrous outcome. The Grayson-Takano letter ("we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need") sends a clear message to Obama and the House Democratic leadership that not all Democrats will sell out working families to pursue a conservative vision of deficit reduction at a time when the deficits are already shrinking and at a time when working families are being pushed to the brink, even as the stock market and the wealth of the one percent soars. 

Markey, of course, stands with Alan Grayson and Mark Takano and the two dozen other progressives who are leading the way. Stephen Lynch refuses to sign the letter or anything like it. He's waiting-- as usual-- to be told what to do by his Establishment backers. Stephen Lynch is the last kind of politician a state like Massachusetts needs in the Senate-- which probably has a lot to do with why polling shows Markey substantially ahead and why both outgoing Senator John Kerry and newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren have enthusiastically endorsed Markey. And so has Blue America. This week we set up a special Profiles in Courage page around the Grayson-Takano letter. Our first profile is Ed Markey. Please consider helping him win a seat in the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE: Lynch Raises The White Flag, Signs The Letter!

Today 3 more progressives and a conservative signed on to the Grayson-Takano letter. The progressives were Lacy Clay (D-MO), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and their signatures are really non-stories, since they tend to support progressive initiatives anyway. The conservative is much bigger news: Stephen Lynch, who is freaking out that Ed Markey is ahead of him by double digits in another poll that came out today!



Blue America, Onward And Upward: Good Guys Always Win In The End

Media error

The first time he ran for Congress, Alan Grayson lost the primary. Two years later Blue America encouraged him to run again and he did. Derided by the political Establishment in Florida and in DC, he beat their favorite in the primary and went on to beat the incumbent Republican congressman in the November general. He then went on to inspire millions of Americans desperate for political leaders who could and would stand up to the conservative consensus that dominates Beltway politics. And when Grayson lost in 2010, he started working on the 2012 race. Blue America was with him every step of the way.

And on Tuesday we celebrated when he won the biggest congressional comeback in American history-- a 62.5% victory that saw him win the vote in every municipality in Florida's 9th district. He won among men and he won among women; he won the youth vote and he won the senior vote and he won the votes of people in between. He won among white people, among black people, among Hispanics and among Asians. He won the urban vote, the suburban vote and the rural vote and he won over 60% of the vote in Orange County, in Osceola County and even in red-leaning Polk County! 3,205 individual contributions from Blue America donors added up to $57,190 for Alan this year.

Yesterday, Grayson said in a statement that speaks volumes about his dedication to the ideals embodied in the men and women who put him back in office:

"Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that one Democrat is as good as any other, that we’re all interchangeable parts. We’re not. Some of us have a head, and a heart, and a spine, and some of us don’t. Blue America concentrates on helping the Democrats who deserve our help, the Democrats who can make a difference. Blue America’s encyclopedic knowledge of every Congressional race means that they do your homework for you. When you support Blue America, you’re supporting the best of the best, in the most important races in the country. It sure made a difference in our election.”

And Alan wasn't our only big win this cycle. After we helped a young reform-minded El Paso City Councilman, Beto O'Rourke, oust longtime corrupt incumbent Silvestre Reyes in a primary that sent shock waves through the DC Establishment, Beto went on this past Tuesday to roll up an awe-inspiring two-to-one landslide, beating his Tea Party opponent 65.5 to 32.8%. Aside for raising money for Beto, we also introduced him to Alan Grayson and Jared Polis so that he would have a base among other reform-minded Democrats in Washington and not just the corrupt, corporate-oriented glad-handing party leaders.

As you know by now, all three of the people Blue America backed for Senate -- Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin -- won incredible victories. Bernie was reelected with over 70% of the vote. Elizabeth was the only Democrat to dislodge a sitting Republican senator -- Wall Street's favorite member of the Senate, no less -- and Tammy Baldwin beat back a four-term governor to become Wisconsin's first woman senator, and the first openly gay person to even win a Senate seat in America.

In 2010, Annie Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter were both victims of the Tea Party wave that swept over New Hampshire. Tuesday that wave reversed itself, and both outstanding grassroots progressives won congressional seats and helped turn New Hampshire dark blue again-- with a new Democratic governor and an overwhelming victory in the state legislature. And across the country in California, state Senator Alan Lowenthal, a principled and determined progressive, who got no help from the DCCC, won a powerful 10-point victory over Climate Change-denier Gary Delong.

Blue America is very proud of all our winners, of course -- and very proud of our members who gave and gave and gave and gave so generously and so consistently. We're also incredibly proud of the candidates who didn't win their races but who fought hard, usually against overwhelming odds and with no help from the DCCC or the Beltway Establishment or the state parties that take their cues from Washington. Rob Zerban gave Paul Ryan the biggest fight of his career and came closer to ending it than anyone who's ever challenged him before. Rob will be back.

And Rob isn't the only one we will be working with again. Some of our youngest first-time candidates -- Aryanna Strader, Lee Rogers, Nate Shinagawa, Nick Ruiz -- have assured me that what we've worked so hard to build won't be wasted. Lee took on the powerful and entrenched chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and gave him the first close call of his long, corrupt career. Will McKeon even run again? None of these candidates had any help from the DCCC; all of them outperformed expectations and made a mark. The morning after his near victory over Tea Party debt collector Tom Reed, the DCCC asked Nate Shinagawa to suit up for 2014, which indicates that might actually support him next cycle. I'm certain, with your help, Blue America will.

Let me share with you a note I got on Wednesday morning from Aryanna Strader our candidate in PA-16, who waged a lonely battle against entrenched incumbent Joe Pitts:

Continue reading »



Blue America Welcomes Back Alan Grayson

Today, January 21, is the two-year anniversary of the absolute worst and most dangerous Supreme Court decision of our lifetimes, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. We decided it would be the perfect time to reiterate Blue America's enthusiastic support and endorsement of Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson and to invite him here to Crooks and Liars for a question-and-answer session.

Why Alan? He was one of the first victims of an unrestricted opening of the spigots of corporate money in a congressional race. According to a Politico article late in the campaign in 2010, almost 20% of all of the independent expenditures in House races in the entire country were deployed against Alan. His district was flooded with an unrelenting radio and television smear campaign by the corporations who didn't appreciate his hard work on behalf of consumers and workers. The average person in Orlando saw 70 negative ads against Grayson-- $2 million of which was paid for by the Koch Brothers, $2 million by the health insurance industry and another million from the NRCC. The cash that flowed into the district from the Chamber of Commerce and Rove's band of cutthroats was a direct response to Alan's reform efforts on the House Financial Services Committee and because he was the most effective national Democratic spokesperson in Congress. The DCCC, of course, offered him no help whatsoever in defending his seat.

Two years ago there were only two Members of Congress at the Supreme Court when the narrow 5-4 decision striking down the provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations' and unions' unrestricted election spending on advertising was read out: Alan and Mitch McConnell. I can imagine McConnell squealing with delight. Grayson had quite a different reaction. He warned later that evening on Countdown that "if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye." (See video above.) I don't think he actually meant the physical country itself-- just democracy, so loathed by the plutocratic elites, and all the benefits democracy brings with it.

Alan had gotten over 100,000 people to sign a petition to the Justices at SaveDemocracy.net, and he personally delivered the signatures to the Supreme Court. This was a new experience for the Supreme Court.

"Seeing it coming," he told me when discussing the ruling, "and assuming the worst, I had introduced four anti-Citizens United bills the week before, and introduced four more afterward. We called this our Save Democracy Platform. The core of three of these bills made it into the DISCLOSE Act." These were the bills Alan introduced:

The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

The Public Company Responsibility Act (H.R. 4435): Prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.

The End Political Kickbacks Act (H.R. 4434): Prevents for-profit corporations that receive government money from making political contributions, and limits the amount that employees of those companies can contribute.

The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act (H.R. 4432): Requires publicly traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than for promoting their products and services.

The Ending Corporate Collusion Act (H.R. 4433): Applies antitrust law to industry PACs.

The End the Hijacking of Shareholder Funds Act (H.R. 4487): This bill requires the approval of a majority of a public company's shareholders for any expenditure by that company to influence public opinion on matters not related to the company's products or services.

Blue America was urging Alan to run again even as the votes were being counted in 2010. And we are determined that this year he's going to be back in Congress-- and this time in a solid Democratic district (the new 27th based in Orlando). Please help us raise him the money he needs to beat back the Kochs and the Roves and the corporate special interests.

He recorded this for us last night:




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