History Will Remember The Voices of Resistance

As you know, millions of ordinary Americans in every part of this country-- red states, blue states-- are resisting the authoritarian, even fascist, impulses of the new Trump-Bannon-Pence regime. And, so far, that resistance has scored some remarkable victories-- above and beyond February 12th’s planned event in Chicago where hundreds will show up to “moon Trump Tower” at 4pm-- Operation "Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes."

Ordinary people-- even more than the media or elected officials-- forced the Trump Regime to reverse the announced federal hiring freeze for the Veterans Administration. In the last few days several federal judges halted the Trump/Bannon unconstitutional travel ban aimed at Muslims. The massive airport protests last weekend resulted in several Trump cabinet members pointedly overriding #PresidentBannon's horrifying scheme to deport legitimate American residents, including Green Card holders and even Iraqis who fought alongside American soldiers.

An effective boycott coupled with widespread protests led to Uber's CEO dropping out of a Trump advisory council and pledging $3 million and immigration lawyers for its drivers (after 200,000 Uber users dropped the app) and Lyft responded by giving a million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fight the illegal Trump/Bannon immigration ban. The Resistance made a massive difference to the ACLU, which normally raises 3-4 million dollars a year and took in $24 million in just one weekend of protests!

Meanwhile Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has become more popular and respected than ever before, enrollment ads are airing despite Trump's initial orders to take them down and despite ugly Republican efforts, Obamacare had enrolled 9.2 million people before this year's application deadline.

The Health and Human Services, EPA, US Department of Agriculture gag orders were lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure from the public and from members of Congress standing up to Trumpist bullying.

So far, 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science and against the dangerous “climate change” denial-ism led by crackpots like Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Trump himself. Renewable energy is growing despite Trump-- and is likely to continue to do so.

Reports have been flooding in from everywhere that more and more people of different career/religious/economic/ethnic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before. And Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.

Trump's approval ratings are the lowest of any president in history at this point in his term. An unprecedented 40% of Americans would already like to see him impeached! And efforts are underway! Governors, state attorney generals, mayors and local officials are standing up to Trump and his toxic agenda and authoritarian policies. Please consider showing the real leaders in Congress that we have their back when they do the right thing and RESIST.

This week, two reporters from entertainment-oriented magazines called to ask me about the effectiveness of popular culture protests against Trump and his policies. Expectations are building for The Grammy Awards shows. More and more artists have been  writing and recording anti-Trump songs. High profile athletic teams-- and many others-- are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels and his other businesses. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion collection, citing the brand's poor performance. And this weekend, theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just-released and  extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin, the must see film, I Am Not Your Negro, which is the latest asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.

Yes, these are dark times and, don't let anyone tell you that the threats aren't colossal. While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins. We have to stay vigilant, and seriously take care of ourselves and each other. Activist burnout is a real thing. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Give thanks for all the others-- known and unknown-- who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. This weekend Blue America has put up a new ActBlue page dedicated to members of the Senate and the House who have been most forceful and effective in their resistance to Trumpism— from Luis Gutierrez, who started the move to boycott the inauguration, something that almost 80 Members of Congress did—- to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu and Jerry Nadler challenging Trump's and the GOP's attempts to push their disastrous agendas in Congress. If we've missed anyone, please let us know.



Ted Lieu's New Bill To Prevent A Pres. Trump From Using Nukes

When Digby, John and I were first getting to know Ted Lieu, back when he was still a state Senator, we asked him why he was willing to leave the young family he's so devoted to in L.A. and spend so much time in Washington, D.C. He told us it actually had a lot to do with his two sons-- a compulsion to help turn Congress towards solving the accelerating problems around Climate Change. And, sure enough, last month when Ted was named the freshmen Democrats MVP, his unrelenting work-- with members on both sides of the aisle-- for climate change was first and foremost in everyone's mind. That and... cyber-security, equal rights, criminal justice and marijuana legalization. Yeah, he's been busy.

But last week, hot on the heels of his promotion to full colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Ted, along with two other freshmen military vets in the House sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. "As veterans who previously served on active duty," they wrote, "we are horrified by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slander of parents whose son died serving our country. Mr. Trump has already made a series of racist and sexist statements. But the profound disrespect Mr. Trump has shown toward Gold Star parents is a new low. Your continued endorsement of Mr. Trump's hateful, bigoted and sexist vision threatens the integrity of the House of Representatives in which we serve. We respectfully request that you follow what we believe your heart is telling you and withdraw your endorsement of him now."

Thursday, Ted announced he is introducing legislation to make it more difficult for a president to launch a nuclear attack.

“The erratic and impulsive behavior of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has highlighted the structural dangers of America’s nuclear weapons launch protocols. Having taught the Law of War when I served on active duty, and as a graduate of Air War College, it is clear to me that the traditional checks and balances on the Executive branch do not apply when it comes to nuclear weapons. This process needs to be fixed.

“The President does not need approval from Congress or the courts to launch nuclear weapons. All the President needs is the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, who is appointed by the President.

“When Congress comes back into session, I plan to introduce legislation that requires the concurrence of leaders in Congress-- who are not beholden to the President-- before a nuclear strike can be launched. We can no longer have the fate of civilization depend on just two people in the Executive Branch.”

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This week Blue America is helping Ted raise funds for his reelection campaign. As a thank you we are giving away 6 advance copies of the next book by neuroscientist Dan Levitin (author of the massive NY Times best seller, This Is Your Brain On Music.) Dan, a big admirer of Ted's, autographed half a dozen advance review copies ofA Field Guide To Lies-- Critical Thinking In The Information Age for half a dozen randomly selected contributors. There is no minimum contribution; everyone is equally likely to be picked to "win" one of the signed books.

Dr. Levitin told us Friday that: "My wife and I had dinner with Ted Lieu recently and it was one of the most fascinating conversations we’ve ever had. He has a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and shared many insights with us. He is exactly the kind of person we need to have in government: smart, empathetic, honest, and eager to devote his considerable talents to public service not for his own personal gain, but to help make the world a better place. He's committed to clearing the logjam that congress has become, using his intelligence and creativity to move forward policies and legislation that will benefit all of us."

Just contribute any amount by Tuesday evening at midnight at this Blue America ActBlue page to be eligible.



Walls, Walls Between Us, and a Chance for Steely Dan History

Walls. Wasn’t the Republican hero Ronald Reagan famous for tearing down walls?  Now, another famous Republican would like to build his version of the Great Wall of China on America’s southern border. Competing for the spotlight and citing "legitimate concerns" about security at the Canadian border, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, before cutting and running, said he'd consider another wall up north. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not walls, but you could place them into the category of "giant moats."  They provide us with distance from the conflicts in Europe and Asia, a kind of "free security" courtesy of geography and plate tectonics.

Continents drift, collide and pile up against each other and make their own walls; and we give them names. Once Denali, then Mount McKinley, and then back to Denali-- to name just one artifact of continental collision in the news recently. People drift too, though a bit faster. They are fleeing wars, violent drug cartels, crushing poverty, radical and murderous extremists, intolerance and oppression. The drifting people are also given names; refugees, undocumented immigrants, migrants, illegals, aliens and wetbacks. Some Republicans would call them rapists, criminals and anchor babies.

What does it mean to progressives that Mr. Trump leads the Republican field? I expect that we are not surprised that many Republicans identify with his divisive and hate-filled message. What should surprise and alarm us is that 39% of voters today identify as Independents, up from 30% in 2004 according to the Pew Research Center.  Although 48% of those Independents lean Democratic and 39% of the Independents lean Republican, the overall increase in the number of Independents means that progressives and Democrats must do a much better job in helping the average voter to see compelling differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Is there something we can learn about America from the refugee and migrant crisis gripping Europe, Africa and the Middle East? The first lesson might be that it takes extraordinary circumstances for people to uproot and leave the familiar to travel hundreds of miles across deserts and open seas. How many people do you know who would willingly pay their last dollars to a Mexican "coyote" to be jammed into the back of a truck or a Libyan smuggler to board a crowded inflatable raft to cross the Mediterranean Sea?

The second lesson is that however tranquil and orderly America appears on most days, fear and deep resentment boil beneath the surface. Mr. Trump knows this. His immigrant attacks have adroitly tapped into a receptive audience. Progressives see another pot boiling when we look at street protests in Ferguson and riots in Baltimore. That is a different pot of poor people, largely African American, who don’t see a place set for them at the American table.

Progressives should worry that people struggling for a small slice of the American pie know instinctively that the Democrats care for them more than a party obsessed with keeping taxes low for America’s top 1%. But they doubt the Democrats can actually deliver with a job and the other things they need. Many who we think should be Democrats believe that Republicans have the skill to manage government and create growth and opportunities.

Progressives have heart and progressive ideas are smart. We know it, but we’ll only win when we convince Independents that progressives care about them, we’re not in the pocket of big business, we know how to govern better, and that our ideas make sense and will get working families ahead.

Joseline Peña-Melnyk is a progressive with heart and smarts. She’s the true progressive running for Maryland’s 4th congressional dstrict to replace Donna Edwards. Born in the Caribbean and fluent in Spanish, she is equally at home with the district’s growing Latino population and its longstanding African American majority. She preaches unity, not division.

She’s a doer. As a former prosecutor and defense lawyer, Joseline saw that minorities are over-represented in prison. Thanks to her, a new Maryland law taking effect soon will help remove bias by requiring police line-up administrators to be ‘blind’-- that is, the administrator will not know the identity of the suspect or, if he knows the identity of the suspect, the administrator should not know which line-up member is being viewed by the eyewitness. Research shows that in lineups today eyewitnesses often take cues from the line-up administrator and feel pressure to make a selection. The result of her law should be fewer wrongful convictions and more confidence in the justice system. 

Progressives can be practical too. Joseline led Maryland into the adoption of digital medical records. With doctors sharing a database of patient information there are fewer mistakes, fewer duplicative tests, and less unnecessary expensive care. When a constituent came to her with a family tragedy-- the suicide of a teenage daughter, Joseline was the motivator behind "Lauryn’s Law" to ensure that school counselors have training in recognizing teen suicide risk factors.

Immigrant students with limited English language skills were failing in Maryland schools. Only 55% percent of these students graduate high school, as compared to 77% of the general population. Joseline worked closely with the schools administrations to establish two new high school programs funded in part with $3 million in seed money from a Carnegie Corporation grant to target this achievement gap. She did it because we all win if the next generation is prepared to take their place in our society.

In Congress Joseline will continue pushing smart progressive ideas. She’ll support creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s failing roads, bridges and sewer and water systems; she’ll keep fighting for affordable education; and she’ll keep protecting the civil rights of the people on the margins and working to get them a bigger piece of the pie.


Please help get Joseline Peña-Melnyk in Congress where she belongs through your Blue America contribution and maybe you'll luck out and win a very special and very rare Steely Dan platinum album award as a bonus. Rolling Stone has called Steely Dan-- Walter Becker and Donald Fagen-- "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."  Maybe that’s like Reagan being the anti-hero to Trump. I don’t know, but Steely Dan is a complex blend of jazz and rock that is simultaneously intellectually challenging and spiritually, emotionally and physically uplifting. The band sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The particular platinum record we’ll be giving away to one lucky randomly-selected contributor is a super rare collector's edition for Two Against Nature that commemorates RIAA platinum sales certification (1,000,000 albums) and 4 Grammy Awards in 2001-- including Album of the Year. Only a few were made for the band and their associates. This particular one was awarded to Blue America co-founder Howie Klein, then president of Reprise Record, now a devoted Joseline supporter. You can help her win a crowded primary and take a chance on a memorable piece of music history.

The "contest rules" are simple. Just contribute any amount to Joseline Peña-Melnyk's campaign on this page. We're not Republicans so the winner isn't the person who contributes the most. Any amount goes. In fact, if you don't have any cash to spare 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. But do it quickly. The contest is over next Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time.




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