Blue America Welcomes Alan Lowenthal

Alan Lowenthal will be the last official Blue America endorsement of 2012. As a state legislator, Alan has been an unabashed, unapologetic and very effective progressive from Long Beach. He's widely acknowledged to be one of the best California state senators when it comes to moving progressive ideas out of the realm of wishing and hoping and into the realm of solid policy achievement. If he can do half of what he's accomplished in Sacramento, in Washington, the whole country will be better off.

This week there was a brouhaha in his race because the confused Republican running against him told an audience filled with Fox News global warming deniers that he doesn't believe in Climate Change and that we can't do anything about it anyway and they should just recycle. Even the right-wing newspaper that always endorses Republicans was shocked. Alan's whole career has been based on doing something about it!

At the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Alan drafted legislation which capped emissions and reduced airborne particulates by over 75%. Now, the two ports are the cleanest and greenest ports in the nation and a model for clean ports all over the world. That's called doing something about it.

Is Alan too principled and too wedded to progressive solutions to be able to work with Republicans? Well, maybe not Bachmann and Akin but Senator Lowenthal has been one of the most effective legislators in California history in bringing both sides together for the sake of ordinary families. He authored legislation which increased student success and graduation rates at all 113 of California’s Community Colleges, and linked the educational community in Long Beach by aligning common core standards from kindergarten to college. This was done with overwhelming bipartisan support. And as a founding member of the Bipartisan Caucus in the State Assembly, Alan also took the lead in authoring the legislation needed to create a new redistricting process which was more representative of the needs of the people, not the political self-interest of the politicians; the end result being the independent Citizen Redistricting Commission.

It's important to remember that his opponent, who is being heavily backed by Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, will never stray from right-wing dogma. Gary Delong will always walk in lock-step vote for the Party and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is lying to Democrats, Independents, and progressives throughout the district about being a “new breed” of Republican, and trying to paint Alan's stellar legislative career as the worst thing to ever happen to this state-- blaming him for trying to ban styrofoam, passing AB 32 (California’s climate change plan), and choosing to save funding for schools and public safety instead of cutting them completely.

In officially endorsing Alan, Blue America joins the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Bill Clinton, the American Federation of Teachers, MoveOn.org and DailyKos. Please consider helping upgrade Congress by supporting Alan Lowenthal for a swing district that spans Long Beach and parts of Orange County. He's joining us for a live chat in the comments section (below) today at 11am (PT).



Gary Delong-- Global Warming Denier... In Southern California?

Thursday we looked at how hostile to Science-- the engine of all economic progress-- the Republicans in Congress are. And, of course, like most reactionary trains of thought, Global Warming deniers are dominant in the old slave-holding states of the Confederacy. But in Southern California? Gary Delong, the Republican nominee who beat mainstream Republican Steve Kuykendall in the primary, roiled the race for the 47th CD congressional seat (Long Beach, Cypress, Westminster and Garden Grove) by making a stunning claim that he sees no scientific evidence of Climate Change. Does he think he's running for a seat in Mississippi or Alabma instead of California?

Delong removed the video from his own website, but luckily some of his fans had saved it and you can watch the whole thing here. (Delong gets going into Republican Fantasyland at 10:25.) David Allgood, Executive Director of the California League of Conservation Voters, was stunned. "Climate change and global warming are real. The denial of this scientifically proven phenomenon is not only a threat to our planet's health, but our economy and our children's future. Climate change deniers are nothing more than apologists for polluters, oil companies, and right-wing ideologues like the Koch brothers. Gary DeLong is not just wrong, his position is dangerous. We can't afford someone like him who puts politics and ideology ahead of science and the health of our community."

Thursday the editorial board of the very right-wing Long Beach Press-Telegram, the biggest newspaper in the district-- which has endorsed Delong-- was also mortified.

With the weather being so unseasonably warm over the last few days, one would think Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong would believe in a proven little fact like climate change. Alas, no.

The Republican congressional candidate recently told the Rossmoor Homeowners Association that global warming is "questionable."

When asked a follow-up question as to whether climate change is manmade, DeLong offered this doozy:

"No, you know there are scientists on both sides of it, but no, I don't immediately get there," DeLong said in a video posted on YouTube. "I don't see any scientific evidence."

These pages endorsed DeLong for the 47th Congressional District and hailed him as a moderate based on his own statements that he would buck the GOP's lockstep train of thought on social issues and the environment. ... Was DeLong pandering to the conservative views of a handful of Orange County voters in this new congressional district? With only 20 days left until Election Day, it's up to the voters to decide where DeLong's vision for the environment truly lies.

State Senator Alan Lowenthal is the progressive running for the seat. He also happens to be widely considered one of the most environmentally-conscious members of the state legislature and has been lauded for drafting the legislation that has made Long Beach and Los Angeles the cleanest ports in America and models for ports all over the world. Alan will be the Blue America guest at Crooks and Liars on Tuesday morning at 11am (PT). (You can contribute to his campaign on the main Blue America page.) His campaign was surprised to hear Delong take such an extreme, ideological position that is so diametrically opposed to that of most people in the district. Claiming that "now is not the time" to address the climate crisis, isn't something most voters in the 47th want to hear from someone running for office.

It is worth noting that DeLong went on record, and even wrote published editorials, opposing Alan Lowenthal’s bill SB 568, which places recycling standards on non-biodegradable expanded polystyrene containers that pollute the Los Angeles River and the Pacific Ocean.

“Climate change isn’t just a political issue, it is a scientific fact and an economic issue,” said Alan Lowenthal. “Economists Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton calculated that putting off adaptation and mitigation efforts could cost the United States 1.4% of its gross domestic product by 2025, and 1.9% by 2100. We can’t afford this hit to our economy just so polluters can avoid making sensible changes to stop fouling our air and water.”

A recent Pew Research study also concluded that 67% of Americans believe in climate change.

“Gary DeLong is now aligning himself with polluters and right-wing climate deniers like the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is not a principled position. This is putting the future of our children and the health of our planet at risk in order to increase profits for oil companies and polluters,” Lowenthal spokesman Mike Shimpock said, “Climate change is a scientific fact, it is not a partisan issue or a talking point. Gary DeLong just chose politics and profits over the truth.”

California is the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world, but has been widely recognized as the leader in climate change awareness and mitigation.

In 2006, Senator Alan Lowenthal voted in support of AB 32, the landmark law to reduce California’s carbon emissions, and serves as a national model. The law requires the California Air Resource Board to develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, representing a 25% reduction statewide, with mandatory caps beginning in 2012 for significant emissions sources and was signed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Alan Lowenthal is a leader in reducing pollution and the amount of carbon emissions at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. His efforts helped cut pollution at the Port by more than 75%.

He is endorsed by shipping industry leaders such as Maersk, Inc., and environmental organizations such as Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

“Climate change is real-- the facts are there,” Lowenthal said, “If Gary wants to continue denying it, then so be it; Californians such as myself will continue on a path of climate change mitigation, adaption, and cooperation with or without politicians like him.”



Blue America Welcomes Jay Chen (D-CA)

This week Blue America is endorsing our second California candidate, Jay Chen, who's running in a newly created district that takes in a chuck of L.A. and San Bernardino counties-- Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Yorba Linda. Jay will be joining us for a live blogging session here (in the comments section below) at 11 AM (PT). Try to stop by and meet him if you can. He told us that he's "fighting to restore the American dream that brought my parents to this great country, a dream that feels increasingly out of reach for the middle class with each day that Congress fails to move critical legislation forward."

Jay's opponent is Ed Royce, who represents a neighboring district in Orange County but is trying to make the move to Jay's area. That's a problem for him because he's made a career of exactly two things: serving the interests of the Big Banks that have financed his career, and demogoguing the most sordid kinds of racism and bigotry. And "his" new district is 30% Asian and 30% Latino. Royce proudly boasts being California’s “most effective conservative” and that he was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party. His 20-year record in Congress includes trying to end the Voting Rights Act, weakening laws protecting women, fighting against subprime mortgage regulation, and voting to privatize Medicare. He believes Arizona’s “Show me your Papers” law should be the national standard, and has been caught on film describing multiculturalism as “odious.”

The new 39th CD is full of the same folks that Royce has tried to disenfranchise over the years with draconian English-only laws and attacks on diversity. This district needs a Congressman who will fight to rebuild Main Street, not just fight to protect Wall Street. "We need new leadership," Jay told us, "and I intend to bring it."

"I was educated in the public school systems of this district, and fortunate to earn a degree at Harvard University. I’ve worked inside large corporations and within small businesses, but my main passion has been education. That is why I ran for school board for the same district that gave me my remarkable educational opportunities. As the President of the board I helped guide our district to increased achievement while avoiding layoffs and furloughs to K-12 education. As a Congressman, I will put money back into higher education and ensure that our students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

"I have faith that our government can work, because I not only help oversee a successful school district, I am also an officer in the United States Naval Reserves. Far too many Congressmembers are eager to talk tough on national security and send other peoples’ sons and daughters into battle. I will never send our troops into harms way unnecessarily, and will always make sure our troops have the resources they need when deployed, and the support they need when they return home.

"We have critical issues that need to be moved forward. I want to invest in our roads and bridges, ensure that our students can get the higher education they need, and nurture a green economy that will clean our environment and create good jobs. I also want to empower women to make the best decisions about their own reproductive health, and ensure that the diversity of our country is celebrated, not condemned."

Royce has been ducking the League of Women Voters' request to set up a debate. He's afraid of Jay-- and Jay says they have a lot to talk about... in front of the voters: "Recently, Royce voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, lower penalties and punishments for abuse against women and to remove the exemption for rape and incest that Republican anti-Choice legislation still has. As millions of families were still reeling from the subprime mortgage market he helped deregulate, Royce voted against a critical measure to help families save their homes. He also voted, again, to give insurance companies the right to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Consider helping Blue America replace Royce with a sterling example of the next generation of American leadership. Jay is the kind of public servant we can all be proud to send to Congress. Please give what you can on our Act Blue page.



Live Chat: Blue America welcomes back Norman Solomon

It was with gladness in our hearts that all of us at Blue America celebrated the state of New York legalizing gay marriage this past week-end. It was a welcome reminder that even in this era of Tea Parties and economic malaise, human progress cannot be stopped. Imagine if we had a national government with enough fighters for working families to make progress on all fronts, from civil rights to economic justice to ending our useless expensive wars. Imagine if we had more leaders like Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Donna Edwards to press for that agenda.



Yesterday, longtime progressive congresswoman Lynn Woolsey announced her retirement from the Congress after a long and illustrious career. And Blue America endorsee and longtime political activist and author Norman Solomon stands ready and able to carry on the progressive tradition of that district and join the above list of progressive leaders.



“We’re gaining the kind of traction that a grassroots campaign needs in order to win,” Solomon says, “the groundswell of support is very encouraging.”



Indeed it is. We need congressional representatives who understand that we are no longer able to afford open ended military adventures and corrupt political boondoggles and Norman has been fighting to end them his entire life.These issues are no longer matters of abstract ideology-- they are necessary and pragmatic approaches to the problems of our time. We need people like Norman Solomon in congress to lead the way.





And please help Norman with a donation if you can.



The good news is that it looks as though we aren't the only progressives who are enthusiastic about him-- the campaign has managed to collect $100,000 already from small donors. But he is not a corporate funded Democrat and will need our help to compete. 



Howie writes today (all the way from Asia!):

Yesterday Norman penned a guest Op-Ed for the Marin Independent Journal that presents a lot of insight into what kind of congressman he'd be-- and into why Blue America is so committed to his candidacy. I bet this is what you wish YOUR congressmember and senator-- not to mention our president-- was saying about the dangers of nuclear energy... and what to do about it. But they're not. It's why it's so crucial that we need real leaders like Norman Solomon, not just someone who will probably vote well in the House.

Several decades ago, three expert nuclear engineers told a congressional panel why they decided to quit: "We could no longer justify devoting our life energies to the continued development and expansion of nuclear fission power-- a system we believe to be so dangerous that it now threatens the very existence of life on this planet."

The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy heard that testimony in 1977, when the conventional wisdom was still hailing "the peaceful atom" as a flawless marvel. During the same year, solid information convinced me to move from concern to action against nuclear power.

By the time the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant came close to rendering much of central Pennsylvania uninhabitable, I was nearly two years into full-time anti-nuclear work that included public education, civic activism and nonviolent direct action. Given what was at stake, I didn't mind spending a month in jail for civil disobedience.

More than 30 years later, the ongoing disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant underscores the grim realities of nuclear power, ranging from catastrophic reactor accidents to highly radioactive waste that will remain deadly for many thousands of years.
[...]
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Department have been avidly promoting nuclear power for decades. Periodic calls for more "studies" have kicked the radioactive can down the road.

I reject the notion that we should wait for such nuclear-enthralled agencies to tell us whether nuclear power is an acceptable risk for Californians.

As the director of the National Citizens Hearings for Radiation Victims in 1980, I learned a lot about patterns of official enabling of the nuclear industry-- with awful results for human health and the environment.

Similar patterns persist in this country.

In contrast, the government of Germany has seen the light. At the end of last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a reversal of policy-- moving to shut down nuclear power instead of trying to expand it.

The decision to immediately close eight German nuclear power plants and shut the rest by 2022 came in a country that had been getting 23 percent of its electricity from nukes.

Here in California, we're less reliant on this Faustian technology, getting just 15 percent of our electricity from nuclear power. The state has a lot of excess generating capacity from other sources, but far better choices for the environment are within our grasp.

Don't you think that's a point of view that deserves to have representation in the congress? Is it too much to ask that we have at least a few liberal voices willing to speak out on issues like nuclear power and endless wars in the US Congress? We don't think so.

Please consider helping Norman bring this kind of thinking to Washington by contribution to his campaign through ActBlue.

Norman summed his platform up in one powerful sentence today saying is he's elected to Congress, he "will insist that we need to bring our troops and tax dollars home-- that we need healthcare not warfare-- that we must resist corporate power-- that caving in to Wall Street and polluters and enemies of civil liberties is unacceptable."

Please welcome Norman Solomon back to Blue America.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Tony Mendoza (D-CA)

Tuesday night Wisconsin's extreme right Governor, hard core ideologue Scott Walker, suffered a major rebuke when one of his most craven minions, Jeff Stone, was soundly defeated in the race for his old job, Milwaukee County Executive, by a little-known Democrat, Chris Abele. It was a stunning 60-40% loss for the Republicans. Meanwhile, after a running at 25% in the February nonpartisan open primary for a Supreme Court seat, Democrat JoAnn Kloppenburg has fought rabid right sociopath David Prosser, another Walkerite, to a dead 50/50 tie. (He had scored 55% in February and was considered completely safe.) And all this even before Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan announced his plan to end Medicare and John Boehner signaled he didn't have the strength to hold back the teabagger mob inside his own cause that so badly wants a government shutdown!

AD-56Mendoza_T06.jpgTony Mendoza
Sometimes it seems that warm, sunny, prosperous, blue California is in a world apart from this insanity. But not to those who watch Sacramento politics closely. True enough, California has a Democratic governor, state Senate and state Assembly. But that's hardly the end of the story. All of the Republicans and nearly all of the Democrats are in the pockets of the big money lobbyists, who practically run the state legislature. You can count the number of dyed-in-the-wool progressives in the legislature on the fingers of one hand. Last month Digby, John and I spent some time with one of the most outstanding and courageous of them, Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, who has had a spectacular career in the Assembly and is campaigning for the state Senate seat opening up in his East L.A. area-- Bellflower, Artesia, Paramount, South Gate, Long Beach, Lynwood, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens. Today Tony will be joining us in the comments section below for a live chat at 2pm (PT).

Tony, the son of immigrant parents, farm workers, is a former school teacher and the first in his family to go to college. Public education is close to his heart and he has been one of California's most outspoken champions for teachers and students. "I have benefited," he told us, "from a system that is free, open and non-discriminatory. The greatest strength of the U.S. educational system is universal access to public education. This belief is what keeps our country competitive. It is what fuels the American dream. More than 90 percent of students in the United States attend public schools. And if they try hard, almost all of them have the opportunity to go to college-- the opportunity to make whatever they wish of their lives. I fight for public education not only because I am a former public school teacher of 10 years, but because I am one of those kids you read about who has defied the odds and graduated from college. I know I couldn’t have done it without a strong public education system and I am committed to preserving, protecting and strengthening it for the benefit of future generations.”

When Tony got to the Assembly, instead of resigning himself to settling into the widely accepted go-along-to-get-along mode, he moved right into action, never fearing controversy. His very first bill, A.B. 97 in 2007 was all about ending the use of trans-fats in California restaurants. With the special interests-- particularly the California Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce-- lined up solidly against him, it literally looked impossible. It took two years and he didn't get a single Republican vote, but he managed to get it passed and signed into law. "We're the first state to require restaurants to cook without artery-clogging trans-fats, which have been linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Banning their use helped to reduce the number of cases of cardiovascular disease-- the No. 1 killer in the nation-- by an estimated 6 to 19 percent, reducing health care costs and most importantly, saving lives.”

That's why Tony is in government service-- to make a real difference in people's lives. It's why Digby, John and I have decided to try to help keep him in government service and why we're recommending him today. Right now we're working with him on a bill he's shepherding through the legislative process again, A.B. 22, a model for what progressives in Washington would like to do. Tony's bill would prevent employers from using credit reports to discriminate against workers. It's already passed both houses twice... and was vetoed twice by Schwarzenegger. “A credit report," Tony told us, "is not a good indicator of a person’s trustworthiness or work ethic. Many Californians are still experiencing financial hardships from the economic downturn including layoffs, high unemployment rates, and the ongoing foreclosure crisis. All of these things make it harder for people to pay their bills. Consider the condition of the economy and the negative effect these circumstances can have on a person’s credit-- a credit report is an unfair lens through which to view job applicants. Using credit checks in the hiring process decreases employment opportunities. Many people have blemishes on their credit reports, especially at this time in our economy. Preventing someone from becoming employed due to a poor credit history is shameful. This bill will simply remove an unnecessary barrier to employment for those seeking jobs.”

It's essential to keep the few men and women with Tony's perspective and instincts in government and not just leave it to the special interests and their shills, whether in Washington or in Sacramento. If you can, please join us in contributing to Tony's senate election campaign.




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