Joe Crowley Must Be Stopped-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Can Do It

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Earlier this week Bernie sent his supporters an e-mail explaining what he hopes to accomplish by barnstorming in Pennsylvania with congressional candidates Jess King and Greg Edwards. He wrote that “if we are going to defeat right-wing Republicans in 2018 and 2020, we need to win in states that Trump won, like Pennsylvania. And, in my view, the only way we win in those states is by supporting progressive candidates who have the guts to defend working-class families — white, black, Latino, Asian American, Native American — and take on the power and greed of the billionaire class.”

And not just in Pennsylvania, of course. He wrote that “Trump represents something we have never seen before in the history of the United States. It is not just that he represents the interests of the wealthy and powerful. It’s that we have never had a president with more authoritarian tendencies than him… The 2018 midterm elections will be long remembered as a pivotal moment in American history because, if we are successful, we can put an end to the disastrous Trump agenda. If we are not, we will have at least two more years of a rapid shift toward authoritarianism, the further normalization of corruption and the continued rise of oligarchy.”

Perhaps his most crucial lines were how “we cannot defeat Trump and the Republican Party with the same playbook, or by supporting the same kind of candidates long favored by the political establishment and financial elite. That is how we got to where we are today.”

The media doesn’t give much coverage to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Bernie campaign organizer from the Bronx who’s running for Congress herself now on a very Bernie-like platform — including Medicare-for-all, free public higher education and a federal jobs guarantee that would promise jobs with a $15 minimum wage as well as paid family leave and campaign finance reform.

And maybe that lack of mainstream coverage could be at least partially explained because she’s running for a seat occupied by an “untouchable” political power-monger, Wall Street’s owned-and-operated ‘Queens County machine boss’ Joe Crowley.

29417607_2034866200129523_9204676868849008640_n.jpg“They’ll tell you you’re too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do It Anyway.” — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Blue America endorsee for #NY14. Help her win: https://goo.gl/KE3kp9

Crowley isn’t just the most corrupt Democrat in Congress, he’s Nancy Pelosi’s and Stenchy Hoyer’s hand-picked next Democratic House Leader, when Pelosi retires halfway through the next term (as is widely rumored on Capitol Hill).

Alexandria, a Blue America-endorsed candidate, is the first person to challenge Rep. Joseph Crowley in a primary race in 14 years. She’s also the first woman of color to ever run in New York’s District 14, which covers parts of southern Bronx and northern Queens.

Goal Thermometer

Crowley has a corporate/lobbyist financed campaign war chest of $1,592,362, having raised $2,777,489.

Alexandria has raised $115,653, entirely from grassroots contributions. Please consider helping her stand up to him by clicking on the ActBlue 2018 congressional thermometer.

“I don’t think we win by backing down. I don’t think we win by fading into the background,” said Ocasio-Cortez, rejecting the idea that moderate Democrats have a better chance against Republicans in the midterm elections.

…Born into a working-class Puerto Rican family, Ocasio-Cortez says she understands the challenges working New Yorkers face. Her mother was a housekeeper, and her father owned a small business. The family moved upstate while she was growing up, but she returned to the Bronx after going to school at Boston University, and she now lives in Parkchester.

She is a harsh critic of Crowley, a Woodside native who has represented Queens and the Bronx in Congress since 1998, and denounces his influence on area politics because of his role as chair of the Queens County Democratic Party… “This Tammany Hall system of political machines actually disenfranchises communities because this old-school system of politics exists to prop up the already powerful,” she said.

Crowley has undermined and opposed progressive ideas and positions for years in Congress, when he headed the New Dems, basically, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Once he visited his district from his home in Virginia and realized over 70% of the district was made up of people of color, he quickly quit the New Dems and started “changing” his long-held anti-working family positions.

Alexandria is authentic; Crowley will never be.

We are encouraged about what she’s already been able to accomplish — with basically ‘one arm tied behind her back’. Imagine what it would feel like to wake up June 27 to find that the first woman of color candidate ever had taken down a powerful, 14-Year ‘Establishment’ Incumbent who was poised for leadership.

Please consider giving whatever you can to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ campaign today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,
Howie, for the entire Blue America team



The Koch Brothers Are Coming For Veterans’ Healthcare

We hope you made it through the 'end of the quarter' e-mail hell ok. It's over for now. This is about something important, not about candidates' dumbed down, embarrassing personal pleas:

The Kochs, the billionaire class and Trump really do think they can stiff America's veterans and get away with it.

Those #2ndGildedAge reprobates will be in for a hell of a shock next January when they see what Randy Bryce, James Thompson, DuWayne Gregory, Doug Applegate, Tom Prigg and Jared Golden are made of. They're the current members of Blue America's Progressive Veterans slate.

These aren't just battle-tested veterans... they are progressives, committed to the real ideals that have traditionally made the Democratic Party an effective vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of our country's working families. Please consider giving them a hand today-- even if there is no FEC deadline.

After publicly humiliating VA Secretary David Shulkin; letting him twist in the wind as rumors swirled that he was on the way out-- Trump finally tweeted Wednesday that Shulkin, the only Trump cabinet appointee who had been confirmed by the Senate 100-0, was out. A worst case scenario would have been the appointment of Pete Hegseth, the non-veteran Koch brothers' cutout who has spent his career planning to destroy the V.A.

It has been a longterm goal of the Koch brothers, through their phony-baloney Concerned Veterans for America, to privatize the V.A. and cut services. The Kochs and their conservative congressional allies could care less that vets have been promised healthcare as part of their reward for serving the country.

Their privatization plans are meant to cut and cap healthcare services. The Kochs are demanding Trump do it NOW, before the Democrats win back Congress in November.

Many in Congress-- on both sides of the aisle-- understand that there's a problem that has to be addressed, but that offering veterans unrestricted choice between the public healthcare system and private medical providers is not the solution. Far from it; doing so would quickly tank the whole system, exactly what the Koch network wants. Shulkin and most legitimate veterans groups prefer a program that offers private care when wait times get too long or if veterans live too far away from the facility they need.

Bernie Sanders cut right to the chase: "Republicans talk a good game about veterans, but when it came time to put money on the line for veterans, they were not there... There are people, the Koch brothers among others, who have a group called Concerned Veterans of America. Koch brothers, by the way, want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s."

In his NY Times OpEd on Wednesday night, Shulkin wrote that Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs Secretary because he opposed the Regime's push to privatize health care for veterans. He contended that "successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector. I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans."

"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans."

Randy Bryce's campaign in southeast Wisconsin is so strong that a day doesn't pass that doesn't see more speculation that incumbent Paul Ryan is planning a graceful exit for himself. One thing he doesn't want to see on his public resume is that he was beaten by an everyman and iron worker. And @IronStache stands strong with fellow veterans. "When I returned home after serving our country," he told us, "I worked alongside the government to help Milwaukee’s homeless veterans. I saw the real struggles facing our community and the real opportunities our government has to assist. Over my dead body will i let a draft dodger and a couple of profiteering crooks try and privatize our V.A."

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Jim Thompson is also running a strong grassroots campaign in a very red Kansas district and making tremendous headway. Issues like the Republicans privatizing the V.A. draws more and more people to check him out. "As a veteran myself," he said, "this apparent move toward the privatization of the V.A. is not just horribly concerning, it is flat out wrong. Our government, through the V.A., owes this nation's soldiers every bit of care and help they need. Our soldiers sign up to serve their country knowing they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the V.A. must not use them and their care as pawns for rewarding the people and companies who would profit from this move. If we have enough money to send soldiers to war, we sure as hell have enough to take care of them when they get back. Privatization just cannot be an option for our protectors because putting profits over people is unacceptable and our troops deserve better."

DuWayne Gregory, the Chief Executive of the Suffolk County Legislature and an Army veteran currently running for the Long Island seat held by Peter King, was incensed when we spoke about Trump's plans to privatize the V.A.-- and not in the mood for compromising. " As a veteran who has served our great country I fully understand the sacrifice our veterans make to fulfill their commitment. It would be a cold day in hell before I allow Trump’s and Peter King’s corporate agenda to exceed the needs of our veterans. Suffolk County has one of the largest populations of veterans in the country. These men and women served our country bravely and deserve to remain humanized and not become a data point for a corporate profit motivated agenda. In my opinion, we can not do enough to demonstrate our respect for our veterans, the least of which, should be quality-focused not profit-driven healthcare."

We all witnessed what a ClusterF*ck the Privatized war in Iraq became. It would be a second tragedy to think the brave men and women who served though that hell (or any other engagement) would suffer the same sub-standard services and indifferent treatment in their home country. We must do better than this for our Veterans. With our slate of Blue American Progressive Vets in Congress, we can.

Please consider a donation for our fantastic Progressive Veterans on their ActBlue page.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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You can contribute to our Senate candidates on this page; our House candidates on this page; and to the incumbents who have earned our support for reelection on this page.



Instant Upgrade To Congress Within Grasp

We're entering the last few weeks on the dash to election day. Now is when candidates need financial resources the most.

I want to say a few words about one of the candidates Blue America has endorsed: Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, who has always run grassroots campaigns and always eschewed corporate PACs, even when she was in Congress and lobbyists were interested in giving that kind of money to her. We've known her as long as Blue America exists, a full decade. We endorsed her first run for Congress in 2006 when, despite spiteful sabotage from Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC, she defeated GOP incumbent Jeb Bradley.

When we first met Carol she was a grassroots activist running on an anti-war platform. And a full decade ago she was already peppering her speeches with the not yet commonly used term, living wage.

Those issues frightened Rahm and he recruited a conservative establishment Democrat, Jim Craig, to run. Although Craig had the backing of the DCCC machine and spent $381,290 against her, (more money than she spent in the primary and the general election combined) she kicked his ass because she knew how to run a grassroots campaign and he-- like almost all DCCC candidates-- didn't. She beat him 54-34%.

The DCCC immediately wrote off the district and Rahm called Democratic contributors and told them she had no chance and not to waste their money-- a common DCCC tactic they still use against progressives today. But despite Bradley outspending her almost 4 to 1, she beat him in November 100,899 votes (51%) to 94,869 votes (49%) and beat him again in a rematch two years later, this time with a 54-46% margin.

I was reminded about what a kook Guinta is when I watched the Wells Fargo House Financial Services Committee hearings on Thursday. A member of that committee, Guinta has managed to extort $1,103,948 from the Wall Street interests he's supposed to be protecting the public from. He was, by far, the most unhinged member of the committee when it came to questioning Well Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

Guinta's agenda is unchanging when it comes to Wall Street-- less regulations and a freer hand for banksters like Stumpf to rip off their customers. He aggressively advocates wrecking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has voted against it over and over and over. Thursday he asked Stumpf-- no fan of the CFPB by any stretch of anyone's imagination-- how many CFBP agents had been embedded with Wells Fargo. When Stumpf said he didn't know the number of agents, the deranged Guinta invented a Breitbart-worthy conspiracy theory on the spot, accusing Stumpf of plotting with the CFPB to withhold the information from the committee. The other members just rolled their eyes with embarrassment and breathed a sign of relief when Guinta's time expired. And, yes, he's solicited-- and taken-- substantial bribes from Wells Fargo's PAC.

There are virtually no issues on which Guinta hasn't managed to dig himself into a hole that pits him against his own constituents. Carol correctly points out that even on something as important to voters as Social Security, Guinta's crackpot privatization ideas are just plain dangerous to ordinary retirees and future retirees. Without naming him, she said that:

"Republican politicians claim they want to preserve Social Security, they actually don’t... Social Security will have problems paying at today's rate around 2034, but it can be fixed if the Congress would do what Reagan did in 1983-- fix it. Raise the cap to make Social Security sustainable. Right now, people who earn under $118,500 pay tax on every single dollar they earn. People who earn over that do not pay on every dollar, just the first $118,500. It is not fair for lower-income people to pay on all of their earnings while the wealthy pay only on the first $118,500."

Like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren-- and anyone serious about protecting Social Security benefits-- Carol advocates scrapping the cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share. Guinta wants to just turn Social Security over to Wall Street and let the chips fall where they may-- while his campaign donors make billions in fees and commissions off American workers' contributions.

Guinta barely survived his primary challenge, edging Rich Ashooh 26,229 (46.5%) to 25,580 (45.3%). The latest poll of the district, released this week, shows that most voters dislike Guinta, who has a negative favorability rating (26-47%), with fully 31% rating him as "very unfavorable." And those people plan to vote against him in November.

In a head-to-head matchup, Carol beats him 50-39% and in a five-way vote that includes third party candidates, she's still way ahead, 44-34%. Short version: very good investment if you're thinking about contributing $5.00 or even $500.



Time For Some Real Talk

Friends, just 50 days out, it’s time for some real talk.

There is a very real possibility that this country is going to elect a white supremacist, nationalist demagogue as president of the United States. Yes, it makes no sense. One would think it's impossible. But after watching the media shit show unfold daily, it’s quite obvious that it can happen here. The polls right now are very, very tight.

If it does happen here, on the morning of November 9th we will wake up to a different world. Allies will understand they need to distance themselves from the US and rivals will feel emboldened. Trump's promise of a massive military buildup will be met by an equal build-up all around the planet. Other nations will logically see that the world's only superpower has gone rogue and the post war security regime that we have known for 60 years will probably fall apart all at once.

Even those of us who believe we should find a way to end the American imperial project cannot believe it is a good idea for it to end in chaos at the hands of a torture-loving nationalist who believes that any perceived ”disrespect" demands military action. 

Then there's The Wall, "Operation Wetback" Redux, banning of Muslims,"law and order" and more on top of his standard GOP policy atrocities, including plans to enact a massive tax cut on the wealthy and end virtually all government regulations, the list of which reads like a lobbyist's letter to Santa. He even proposed to end all food safety regulations

And yes, he's a climate change denier and will reject the Paris Climate accords and anything else that seeks to deal with a problem he believes is a hoax made up by China. And of course we know he is a documented racist, misogynist, nativist, xenophobic, anti-semite which is what millions of his most enthusiastic backers like best about him.  That's just for starters. 

And yet, with all that, right now he is tied with the mainstream, center left Democratic candidate who is running for President Obama's third term and has been endorsed by people as diverse as Elizabeth Warren to Warren Buffet to every union and . That is insane. 

Unfortunately, we have a problem within our own ranks: One third of voters 18-29 are planning to vote third party and that could easily make the difference. 

Bernie Sanders has something to say about that:

"Look, I was a third-party candidate. I began my career running as a third party, getting 2 percent and then 1 percent. I'm the longest serving independent in the history of the U.S. Congress, but I think that before you cast a protest vote, because [Hillary] Clinton or Trump will be president, think hard about it. This is not a governor's race. It's not a state legislative race. This is the presidency of the United States."

"If you are a working person, do you really think that billionaires need a large tax break? Which is what Trump is proposing. If you are an ordinary American who listens to science, do you think its a good idea that the President of the United States rejects science and says that climate change is a hoax? I think that if you look at the issues—raising minimum wage, building infrastructure, expanding healthcare—Clinton, by far, is the superior candidate."

It probably won't matter in big blue states if people vote third party. But there's a good reason not to. The Democratic platform Sanders fought for is also on the ballot. Clinton has not repudiated it or run from it and that is to her credit. If a majority of the country votes against her there are plenty of people in the media and both parties who will blame that platform and her embrace of progressive policies for the loss.

As Bernie says:

"Let us elect Hillary Clinton as president and that day after let us mobilize millions of people around the progressive agenda which was passed in the Democratic platform." 

So, that's where we are right now. Clinton is falling in the polls and Trump is rising. There's a very good chance we may wake up on November 9th in a different world if he pulls this off and progressives have the most to lose, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. This isn't politics as usual, friends. This requires all hands on deck.

You can donate through Blue America's Clinton page here. And if you can't do that you can do phone banking from your home or canvas in your neighborhood. I urge all Blue America members to take this seriously and do whatever you can to help Hillary Clinton win this election.



You’re Invited To Tonight's Free Online Progressive Summit


Please consider yourselves invited to join us and Sister Giant as Marianne Williamson hosts a free online progressive summit over the next three weeks. You’ll be introduced to some of the finest candidates running from all over the country. Together, we can help build a more progressive congress that will help keep Blue Dogs or New Dem alliances with the GOP from stalling important legislation and real change from happening.

As we’ve seen in the past few months, politics can be a dirty business. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The idea for the Progressive Summit was born out of a desire to, as Marianne puts it, “make Congress reflect the better angels of our nature.” Does that sound like a good idea to you? Here’s what else Marianne has to say:

With the Presidential election in full swing, we can be tempted to minimize the importance of our Congressional elections. But they're equally important because Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. We need a political revolution in Congress as much as we need it in the White House!

I hope you'll join us for a Free Online Progressive Summit, co-hosted by SISTER GIANT and BLUE AMERICA, begins tonight, February 23 at 6pm PT | 9pm ET. The summit will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the next three weeks. Each evening viewers will be introduced to three progressive Congressional candidates from around the country. The interviews will be archived so you can begin watching at any time.

Please go to SisterGiant.com to register for the Free Summit, and view a continuing list of candidates participating. After you register, you will receive a link to the summit via email.

I hope you'll join in, and let others know as well. If we really want a political revolution, we can't just kinda sorta do it!

All my best,

Marianne



What Does A Win Look Like? Taste Like? Smell Like?

Tuesday, Wisconsin's most progressive elected leader, state Sen. Chris Larson-- the guy who led the Democratic senators out of the state rather than buckle under to Scott Walker's Koch-ordered tyranny-- came in first in a hard-fought, 4-way race for the second most important office in the state, Milwaukee County Executive. It's an office that can lead to the governor's mansion, as it did for Walker. The current County Executive, Chris Abele, the son of a billionaire, has worked with the Republicans to disadvantage teachers and the school system and to force struggling homeowners to bear the burden of $80 million in public financing to pay for the new Bucks arena. 

When the Shepherd Express endorsed Larson, the editorial board noted that the general election on April 5th comes down to a contest between "Larson’s solid record of public service vs. a ton of Abele’s family’s money." Abele, they wrote, "has consistently cut backroom deals on behalf of private special interest groups and on behalf of his fellow millionaire cronies at the expense of the average Milwaukee County taxpayers [and has] worked hard to impress and win favor from his mentor, Gov. Scott Walker... Since taking office in 2011, Abele has consistently worked to strip our local democratic institutions of their power and consolidate power in his own office, shutting out the public from debates and decisions."

Abele, who vetoed a referendum on campaign finance reform, spent $2,000,000 in the primary to Chris Larson's $100,000. He's already said he's willing to throw $5,000,000 of his father's money-- or even more if he needs to-- into the April run-off against Larson's grassroots campaign. Blue America endorsed Chris Larson and we'd like to ask you to consider making a contribution to his campaign here.

We also want to remind everyone to vote in Alan Grayson's GraysonPrimary.com to cast a vote directing him whether he should use his super-delegate vote for Bernie or Hillary. Grayson:

”Until yesterday, 'superdelegates' were simply puppets of the unDemocratic establishment and their determination to snatch candidate selection away from our voters. Well, that’s no longer true. I’m a superdelegate. And I’m injecting a full dose of democracy into the superdelegate process, by letting actual Democratic voters influence who should win my superdelegate vote... In just 24 hours, more people have voted at GraysonPrimary.com than for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in the Iowa Caucus. (Or Jeb Bush, but that isn’t saying much.) Our poll already has drawn well over 70,000 votes, which is . . . incredible. Democrats are sick of feckless loser party bosses dictating to us who carries our banner in November. Who do they think they are? That’s not their decision. It’s ours... It’s refreshing to see unbridled democracy in action. True power in the hands of the people is multiplying as we speak, and it is electrifying.”


And that brings us to something Blue America is very excited to be doing with Marianne Williamson and Sister Giant, a free online Progressive Summit, which starts Tuesday, February 23. You'll have a chance to meet many of the candidates we have endorsed and some we are thinking about endorsing. The purpose, though, is to emphasize the importance of congressional races in a year when the media talks almost exclusively about the presidential race. No matter who wins that race-- hopefully Bernie or Hillary-- Congress will function better with more progressives and fewer conservatives.

That what the Progressive Summit, which will last all week, is all about. Among the incumbents taking part are Alan Grayson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and among the candidates, you will get to meet Tim Canova, the intrepid Florida progressive taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DuWayne Gregory, who is taking on Peter King on Long Island, Alex Law, Nanette Barragan, Pramila Jayapal, Eric Kingson, Bao Nguyen and plenty of others. See you Tuesday? Register here at SisterGiant.com



Eric Kingson: Why I Stand With Bernie


Eric Kingson, founder of SocialSecurityWorks, is running for Congress in a blue district centered on Syracuse New York. Eric has endorsed Bernie for president and his running on the same issues that Bernie is running on. If you want to contribute to Bernie's and Eric's campaigns, you can do so here. We asked Eric to tell us what went into his courageous decision to buck the Democratic Party Machine and back Bernie-- and in Clinton's own upstate New York backyard no less. Here's what he told us:

When the next president of the United States takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, he or she will be a Democrat.  By then, the nation will have had its fill of the extremist right wing of the Republican Party-- especially of the disrespectful and racist messages of Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. To be sure, the mean-spiritedness of the Republican Party will have torn at the nation’s fabric, but the ties that hold us together as a free and compassionate people are ultimately too strong to succumb to anti-democratic demagogues.

We Democrats, and the nation, are fortunate to have a choice between two eminently qualified people-- Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both have contributed greatly to our nation. Both can do the job and lead by appealing to our “better angels.” And like President Obama, they take strong stands, political and personal, against the politics, fear, divisiveness, and disregard for working families and the poor that is so evident among today’s Republican Party.

That said, I strongly and proudly support Bernie Sanders in his campaign to be our next president. Here’s why.

Bernie is igniting the interest and energies of millions of Americans, many of whom have not been previously engaged in politics. We need this at a time when our nation’s political institutions are at risk; when our economic institutions seem to work well only for the rich and powerful, not for hard-working people and families. We need new generations of Americans and older ones, too, not only to care about what is happening in our nation, but, like Bernie’s supporters, to get involved and become vehicles for a better America.

Putting aside the risks posed by Trump and Cruz to our democracy, we will still face the corporate and billionaire domination of our politics and the coordinated efforts of the Republican Party to suppress voting, especially among minority, young, and low-wage workers. Senator Sanders’ campaign is bringing attention to campaign finance. No one can doubt Bernie’s complete opposition to the domination of our politics by corporate interests and money. He refuses to accept campaign contributions from Wall Street and other corporate donors. His campaign is fueled by millions of small donations. Bernie, whose politics were shaped by involvement in the civil rights movement, is no new-comer to voting rights. He’s always been there and will work to expand the voting franchise.

Wall Street doesn’t like Bernie. And they shouldn’t because he’s the real thing.  When he talks about breaking up too big to fail banks, Wall Street and their handmaidens worry. Wall Street bankers who virtually crashed our economy don’t like the sunshine being cast on their dishonesty and undeserved huge bonuses. Too bad. The public knows that Bernie will walk the talk, and that the economic policy of a Sanders Administration will not be under the control of Wall Street shills. Another good reason to support the Senator…

Another reason for my enthusiastic support of Senator Sanders for president is that as co-founder of Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, I’ve seen how effective he’s been in stopping Social Security cuts and building the case for expanding Social Security benefits. Six years ago, when we established the organization and coalition, there were only a handful of Senators and Representatives who would say “do not cut our Social Security”-- Bernie Sanders, former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and a few others. It may not seem so now, but this took political courage in the first few months of 2010. The press, the talking heads, party leaders, White House advisors, and many others were caught in their own echo chamber. Nearly all believed that cuts to Social Security were needed and would soon happen.

Concerned that the fiscal crisis drumbeat would stampede Congress into cutting Social Security, Bernie organized the Senate Defend Social Security Caucus, initially bringing five other Senators along. Later, in the context of budget and deficit negotiations, when it looked like Bowles-Simpson Commission cuts would be enacted, Bernie played a pivotal role in coordinating push-back to proposed cuts to annual cost of living adjustments. In a call that six or seven of us where on, I recall Bernie saying, “Look, we can stop this cut; but we have to act fast and get the voices of  the American people into Washington,” followed by strategic suggestions for doing so. A meeting chaired by Senator Sanders in a Senate hearing room packed to the gills with 200 advocates, seniors and journalists got the message out that the American people did not want their benefits cut. Careful messaging, speeches, and one million signatures stopped the cuts-- much to the credit of the Senator who has never been fearful of standing up for what he knows is right.

Today, the two remaining Democratic candidates for president are now firmly on record for expanding, not cutting, Social Security. This would not have happened without Bernie.

I am running for Congress in Central New York (NY-24). When I go to Washington as a new member of congress, I want to see a Democrat in the White House. And I believe our nation will be best served if that Democrat is Bernie Sanders.



Keith Ellison Tells Bernie "I'll Be There for You"

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Credit: Howie Klein

After Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that Bernie founded and was first chairman of, endorsed Bernie last week, I asked a savvy friend of mine on Capitol Hill when some of the other progressives who love the platform Bernie is running on would jump in. She told me that it probably wouldn't happen until after the first debate. Well... Keith Ellison (D-MN), the other co-chair of the Caucus, jumped in Monday afternoon, before Tuesday night's debate. Keith knew exactly what Bernie would say in the debate. It's the kind policy he's been working on himself since he was elected to the state legislature in 2002.

Besides being the second Member of the House to endorse Bernie, Keith is also the first Muslim Member of Congress to endorse the Jewish senator from Vermont! Like Grijalva, he will now go out and speak on behalf of Bernie's campaign as a surrogate, the same way many conservative Democrats like Claire McCaskill, Steve Israel and Kurt Schrader are running around boosting Clinton.

Keith told his hometown paper that "Bernie knows that the power ultimately lies with the American people. And in a time where voter participation is at an all-time low, Bernie has shown that he has the ability to create a renaissance in civic participation by exciting those who are least likely to vote. Having stood with Bernie over the years on many different issues, including the Fight for $15, the effort to ban private prisons, and calling for the end of subsidies for Big Oil, I am proud to stand with him now."

He also said that he endorsed Bernie "because he is talking about the issues that are important to American families... We’ve all seen the massive crowds he is attracting, and I think that is a testament to his message connecting with people-- people we will need to turn out in November. Bernie and I have stood together on progressive values for years. Bernie was a founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and as one of the current co-chairs, we have a shared desire to help Americans who are struggling to get by."

Alan Grayson says he's not taking sides yet and that he'd like to work with either Bernie or Hillary. Yesterday, though, he sent out a letter to his supporters saying that he wanted to tell them "something about Bernie Sanders that you probably didn’t know. He served for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and for much of that time, Bernie passed more amendments on the Floor of the House than any other Member of the House. That’s right: the one Member who belonged to neither party passed more amendments than any Member who belonged to either party. Good, solid progressive amendments. Lots of them. He was principled, and he was effective."

Blue America added Keith-- as well as, Angela Marx, the progressive Democrat running in Washington's 3rd congressional district (Vancouver and the suburbs north of Portland, Oregon)-- to the ActBlue page dedicated to incumbents and congressional candidates who have endorsed Bernie.

We spoke to Angela Marx, a life-long resident of Clark County, where she raised two daughters and is helping raise two granddaughters. She's well-known to the Daily Kos community and when she decided that she would explore running for public office this year, she chose an Occupy Democrats poster which expressed her thinking about America and pinned it to her Twitter page on June 14, 2014. "Today," she told us, "it looks like it could be a Bernie Sanders campaign poster. Which is why, when Bernie Sanders started running for the Presidency, I KNEW he was my candidate... because we both stand for the same thing-- ensuring a better America for all of us. Vote Bernie Sanders for President in 2016, because we ARE #StrongerTogether!

This week we're going to give away this rare RIAA-cerified platinum award for the soundtrack of the TV series Friends.(Shown above.) Please consider giving any or all of the candidates-- as well as Bernie-- a contribution. There is no contribution too small to be appreciated. In fact, we're about to burst through our thermometer goal and most of the donations have been $40 or less.



Progressive Leaders Have Started Endorsing Bernie Sanders

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Credit: Slate.com
For Bernie to succeed as president, he's going to need support from Members of the Senate and the House. If he wins, there will be plenty of institutional Democratic support. Right now, we want to thank progressive incumbents and candidates with the courage to endorse him. It's just starting.

Friday evening Bernie Sanders will be speaking at the DeMeester Performance Center, an outdoor amphitheater that holds 7,000 people, in Tucson's Reid Park. He'll be introduced by the local congressman, Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group that Bernie founded in 1991. Wednesday, Grijalva became the first member of Congress to endorse Bernie's campaign. Friday he plans to make the case for how, in his words, "Bernie is the right leader to fight income inequality, protect our safety net and ensure every American has a stake in the future of our country."

Bernie is the first incumbent to have endorsed Bernie but several progressive candidates for Congress have already decided to bite the bullet and do the right thing. The first candidate to endorse Bernie was South Jersey reformer Alex Law, who's running against the corrupt, conservative Machine candidate, Donald Norcross. Back in August he told us that he was the only congressional candidate in New Jersey who had endorsed Bernie, explaining that "Bernie's thoughts on student loan reform, campaign finance reform, income inequality, raising the minimum wage, diplomacy over war, tax reform, and drug reform resonate deeply with me. His influence is apparent in my policy ideas." He reiterated last night, telling us that:

I am the only Democrat in New Jersey running for office that has endorsed Bernie because I share his progressive values. I share his conviction to address income inequality and to fight corruption in politics. Bernie Sanders is the only Democrat truly committed to addressing campaign finance reform not only in words but in action as he has not accepted Super-PAC support. Whether it's LGBTQ rights, student loan reform, Wall Street reform, drug/prison reform or other issues, Bernie has a vision I agree with. Bernie Sanders is the people's candidate, and I am proud to say I endorse him for President of the United States of America.

The second of Hillary's 3 home state-- Arkansas-- was the scene of the next Bernie endorsement and it came from Robbie Wilson, the congressional candidate in the Fayetteville area. "I take great satisfaction in the fact that I align with Senator Sanders on every issue," he told us. "Most importantly, I agree with the Senator on the subject of overturning Citizens United. There is no greater threat to the survival of the middle class, and no darker bruise on our political structure. Furthermore, this issue goes hand-in-hand with the likelihood that we will need to appoint Supreme Court Justices over the next two presidential terms, and the idea that a Republican President and Congress would steer those appointments is almost too much to bear. Senator Sanders and I also share the same stance on the issues of women’s rights, foreign policy and economics, among others. But in a broader sense, we both believe that our government was intended to benefit all Americans, not to hold down the many in order to appease a few. This is a fundamental theme that is woven throughout the fabric of my platform, and I’m proud to say Senator Sanders reflects these same values."

And the 4th candidate to endorse Bernie-- and this was also Wednesday-- was Tom Guild, running for the Oklahoma City seat. "Bernie Sanders and I are in agreement on the vast majority of the major issues facing America," he said. "He has raised millions of dollars from grassroots activists in small amounts. He is drawing huge and sometimes unprecedented crowds wherever he goes. There are other good and able presidential candidates running in 2016. Bernie is the best of the best. He is the best hope to turn around our country and to fix the broken campaign finance system, address income inequality, reduce mounting college student debt, increase Social Security benefits, protect Medicare, repair our nation’s tattered infrastructure, support public education, raise the wages for American workers, and effectively deal with other pressing matters. America feels the Bern! I support and endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States."

Goal Thermometer

Blue America is thrilled that the support from progressives has started coming in and we started a special Act Blue page just for Members of Congress and candidates for Congress endorsing Bernie.

Most Democrats love Bernie's platform and his ideas for making America a more equitable place to love. Even if he's elected, he's going to need supporters in Congress on the same page. We know Grijalva and the whole Progressive Caucus will be there for him but Bernie is going to have Republicans, Blue Dogs and the Wall Street-owned New Dems to contend with, which is why it is so crucial to elect progressives like Alex Law, Robbie Wilson and Tom Guild. Please contribute what you can to these candidates.

And this week, Blue America is going to give away an extremely rare RIAA-certified platinum award for the Friends soundtrack. This was the first-even TV series to win a platinum record (for a million sales) and it included songs by The Rembrandts, REM, Joni Mitchell, the Barenaked Ladies, Lou Reed, kd lang, Paul Westerberg, the Pretenders and the other musicians that contributed songs to the show.

As a way of thanking contributors, we'll randomly select on lucky "winner." There is no minimum-- anyone can win this by contributing on this page. In fact if you want the platinum award but find yourself strapped for cash, just send us a post card (pronto)-- Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027-- and let us know you want to win too and that you'll contribute some other time if you can.



3 More Days Left In Our Ice-T Gold Record Fundraiser For Alex Law


Blue America is at the tail end of a fundraising effort on behalf of Alex Law, the progressive Democrat running against South Jersey Machine incumbent Donald Norcross, brother of notoriously corrupt party boss, George Norcross. Since being installed in Congress by his brother in 2014-- after the corrupt old Machine hack was driven out by scandal-- Norcross has been a dependable vote for many of John Boehner's worst policies. His first vote in Congress was for the Keystone XL Pipeline. And after an AIPAC-funded trip to Israel he returned to Cherry Hill in his district with GOP warmonger Tom MacArthur  in tow  to announce he would vote with the Republicans against the Iran agreement.

Alex Law, the first Democratic congressional candidate anywhere in the country to endorse Bernie Sanders, is as different as a Democrat could be from Norcross. He backs the Iran deal, opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline and is all about helping ordinary middle class Jerseyites fulfill their legitimate aspirations while taking on the big money special interests that call the shots for the the Norcross brothers.

Blue America will thank one randomly selected donor to Alex's campaign on this page by sending them a rare, collectible RIAA-certified gold record for Ice-T's album, O.G., Original Gangster. Ice-T, a resident of New Jersey, is now best known as an actor but in the '90s he was an inspirational rapper who was an early incarnation of what is now called the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

In Alex's own words, "the #BlackLivesMatter movement is something that expresses the continued frustration around the idea that some people in our society exist under different rules than other people. This is the same kind of frustration that Ice-T's music expressed 25 years ago. I am working to do everything I can to find real solutions to these problems such as unfair drug policy, income inequality, and education disparity. I think we need to legalize marijuana, as it is one of the biggest tools used by over-zealous police forces to imprison young African-American males at a rate astronomically higher than young white males. I think we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour so that people can work at a livable wage. I think we need to make college more affordable for everyone, so that in America, everyone, not just the privileged, have the opportunity to better themselves. The frustrations expressed by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Ice-T are incredibly real and the problems are daunting. But, I am going to work as hard as I can to help." 

Any contribution for Alex Law's grassroots campaign on our Blue America ActBlue page that comes in before Sunday night at 9PM will make the donor eligible for the thank you gift from Blue America.

As Alex told us last week, "I am running against Donald Norcross in next year's primary because he represents the worst in American politics: catering to special interests, machine political corruption, and voting with the Republicans constantly despite his Democratic district. We are lean and we are grassroots, but ultimately, we will win this election."  

Let's help him do just that.




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