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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