The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

Steve Israel says he's stepped down, but he still has his hand up Ben Ray Lujan's bottom part.

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Credit: @WMXDesign

When I was growing up I always thought Labor Day picnics marked the beginning of the election season. Now it seems to be the beginning of the final stretch of a campaign that's been raging for a year. We hope no Blue America members are focussing solely on the presidential race. Congress makes up a co-equal branch of government and if President Hillary is going to accomplish anything worthwhile-- or if President Trumpanzee is going to be kept in check-- we will need more progressives in the House and Senate. Today we want to take a look at the House and the candidates worth supporting... and the worst of the candidates worth avoiding.

It's not that hard to figure out who the dozen worst House Democrats were this session. ProgressivePunch keeps track of all the votes and in a category called "crucial votes," which doesn't include any routine stuff like naming post offices, they rate every member on how he or she voted during 2015 and 2016. From horrible to even more horrible this is the worst of the worst among Democrats. (It's worth noting that there are 5 Republicans whose records aren't as bad as some of these Democrats!)

• Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
• Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)
• Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
• Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
• Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
• Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)

In terms of the House, that's the heart of theRepublican wing of the Democratic Party-- and, predictably, every last one of them is a Blue Dog or a New Dem. In fact, most of the Blue Dogs are also New Dems.

These are where Boehner and Ryan get their votes to make horrible GOP proposals "bipartisan." These are the "Democrats" who want to kill Wall Street reform and gut Elizabeth Warren's CFPB, for example. From this list comes the climate change deniers, the homophobic fanatics, the anti-Choice throwbacks, the TPP supporters and anti-healthcare kooks... the "Democratic" votes for almost any cockamamie proposal the Koch brothers and the extreme right come up with. Ryan knows he can always count on Henry Cuellar for anything-- even more so than many members of his own party-- and that if he can't count on gay right-wing lunatics like Kyrsten Sinema and Sean Patrick Maloney to vote with him to penalize the LGBTQ community, at least they'll always be there to help him give Wall Street a free hand to pillage the American people. These are the members with their hands out for special interest money from Big Oil, Big Pharma, from the pay day lenders and the most contemptible banksters and polluters.

But how do we know about candidates who haven't been accruing voting records in Congress, the newbies running for the first time? Who will be the next batch of candidates for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- all of whom the DCCC is trying to pass off as solid Democrats, even calling some of them "progressives" to trick voters who are too busy to learn the details on the garbage candidates the DCCC is offering this year. Well, it turns out there is a way-- we can just dig a little and look to see who the Blue Dogs and New Dems are endorsing.

A candidate has to go to these organizations and ask for an endorsement and prove that they fit in and will be make-believe Democrats likely to help the NRA or the anti-Choice groups or the science deniers... any of the standard GOP fare, but most of all-- first and foremost-- that have to be Big Business-friendly and pro-Wall Street.

So far 19 Democratic candidates for the House have been endorsed by the New Dems and/or the Blue Dogs. Very few of them advertise that on their websites or mention it to voters in their districts. They just tell big campaign donors. Most of them hope to keep it hidden until after November. But we want to share the list with you... so you can use it when you decide how to vote (or not vote) in November. This year's worst House candidates:

• Lou Correa (CA)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Lon Johnson (MI)- Blue Dog
• Isadore Hall- New Dem
• Darren Soto- New Dem
• Gretchen Driskell (MI)- Blue Dog
• Brad Schneider (IL)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Shelli Yoder (IN)- Blue Dog
• Josh Gottheimer (NJ)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• LuAnn Bennett (VA)- New Dem
• Matt Heinz (AZ)- New Dem
• Salud Carbajal (CA)- New Dem
• Pete Gallego (TX)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Gail Schwartz (CO)- Blue Dog
• Val Demings (FL)- New Dem
• Monica Vernon (IA)- New Dem
• Kim Myers (NY)- Blue Dog
• Tom O'Halleran (AZ)- Blue Dog
• Emily Cain (ME)- New Dem
• Doug Owens (UT)- Blue Dog

A bit of good news is that in two cases, bad Democrats can still be defeated without a Republican winning. Both are in California Democrat vs Democrat races and both are in the L.A. area. Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen is running for the seat the Blue Dogs and New Dems are trying to capture with Lou Correa and Nanette Barragán is running against New Dem Isadore Hall. For the rest of these, you'll have to make up your own mind if you want to vote for a fake Democrat likely to vote around half the time with the GOP on crucial issues or skip that line on your ballot. It can be a tough call for a lot of people. One thing, though, shouldn't be tough-- no matter how you decide to vote, don't give anyone on that list of 19 conservaDems any money. Instead, please support Bao and Nanette and the other vetted progressives on the Blue America endorsement list. All of these candidates have won their primaries and will be facing conservatives in November and almost all of them are being ignored-- or worse-- by the DCCC.



DuWayne Gregory-- Ready To Turn Long Island Blue Again


Republican Peter King has been in Congress since 1993 and his Democratic neighbor and crony, Blue Dog Steve Israel, has seen to it that he would have no serious challenges from the DCCC. With Israel himself finally retiring, there were hopes that the DCCC would finally take on King, an outspoken Trump supporter. The Democrats have their best candidate for the seat in living memory, DuWayne Gregory, the respected and well-liked presiding officer of the Suffolk County legislature.

The Long Island South Shore district has moved significantly east into blue Suffolk County and is no longer safe Nassau territory for Republicans. In fact two-thirds of the voters now live in Suffolk-- and many of them don't know very much about Peter King. There was every expectation that once DuWayne Gregory became the official Democratic Party's candidate the DCCC would come in and help him get the message out about who King is. After all, Obama won the district twice, 51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney. And the district-- the most Hispanic on Long Island-- is bluer now than it was then.

In 2014 Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won both counties with gigantic landslide margins and this cycle Chuck Schumer's reelection campaign is expected to do just as well. It looks like Hillary will beat Trump very substantially in the New York suburbs, Nassau and Suffolk counties included. More Democrats than Republicans voted in the presidential primaries and polling shows enthusiasm for Trump since the primaries has all but evaporated. But Steve Israel has persuaded the DCCC to once again take a hands-off policy towards his old pal Peter King.

Needless to say, he hasn't persuaded Blue America and we've endorsed DuWayne Gregory with great enthusiasm and urge all of our members to consider contributing to his strong grassroots campaign here.

Friday we spent some time talking with DuWayne and I want to share some of his unvarnished thoughts with you:

"Ever since I announced my run for Congress people have asked me why do you want to run and why do you think you can beat Peter King? The answer for me was simple for two reasons. First, I strongly believe we need new leadership in Washington. Secondly, the decision to run, specifically, against Peter King was a personal decision for me. I take the responsibility of holding public office seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to have the ability to have a positive impact on people's lives. I also believe because of the oath of office we take we represent all residents of our district and not just the ones who voted for us or who we personally agree with. Peter King has violated this rule, in my opinion. I don't begrudge anyone with a more conservative set of principles than myself, but I do begrudge abhorrent values. 

"My decision to run was due in large part because of my son Julian, who is gay. When district lines changed I took it upon myself to research my Congressman's voting record on LGBT issues and was astonished at how narrowed minded his voting history has been: he voted against gay couples adopting children in Washington DC; supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a woman and a man; voted against expanding hate crimes to cover LGBT victims; voted against protecting LGBT members from being discriminated at work etc. As a LGBT parent Peter King does not understand the fear that a parent has, because of the same bigotry that is displayed with a voting record like his. I will never forget the day my son Julian came out to me while we were going to get ice cream. He was 12 years old! I immediately told him that I loved him and want him to be happy, but in my mind I was worried about how less accepting people will respond. People like Peter King who wrongly think gays make a choice regarding their sexual orientation. People like the shooter in the Orlando club massacre where my son was just two weeks prior. 

"So I made a choice that our country and my Congressional district needs new leadership and one less voice against equality in America. We deserve to have a representative that will work to protect my son just as fervently as all other children without bigotry or hate. It is Peter King's job to work to protect all people from harm and discrimination regardless of religious or personal beliefs. As an African-American I know hate all to well and to think my protection and safety would be sacrificed by an elected official because that person didn't approve I find appalling and dereliction of duty. The oath that public officials take does not ask them to protect only certain segments of the country, the one's they agree with, but all citizens of our country."

 

It's time for grassroots Democrats to take our fate into our own hands and stop allowing corrupt party bosses like Steve Israel and the jokers at the DCCC determine who does and who doesn't get into Congress. Voters on Long Island need to know that Peter King has endorsed and fully backs his pal Trump. If the DCCC won't help DuWayne Gregory get that message out-- and the message about who DuWayne is himself and what he wants to accomplish in Congress-- let's do it ourselves. It's worked in the past and it can work this time as well. Please consider contributing what you can to DuWayne's campaign here.



The GOP Would Rather Fight Science Than Climate Change

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Credit: Wakely Campaign

One ominous development we've been watching with alarm this cycle is the DCCC's systematic discounting of the public's preference in primaries. It seems that every time a progressive wins, the DCCC decides the district is not winnable and they immediately abandon the district.

Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan have mandated this in every part of the country, from Long Island and the Philly suburbs, up to Wisconsin's north woods and down to Texas' Austin-San Antonio corridor. Today we want to introduce you to Tom Wakely, a progressive Democrat who backed Bernie in the primary and has rallied around Hillary for the general election. 

His primary victory over a self-described conservative Democrat was substantial and decisive-- 59-41%. But the DCCC has an odd definition of "party unity" and has never so much as returned a call from Tom. TX-21 includes deep blue downtown Austin and traditionally Republican suburbs of that city and San Antonio that have turned away from Trump. These voters aren't happy about the incumbent-- Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith-- and his enthusiastic backing for Trump, and his pig-headed denial of Science in regard to both Climate Change and the Zika virus outbreak, two absolutely crucial areas that Lamar's Science Committee has refused to act on. 

But never mind that. And never mind that TX-21 is ripe to flip from red to blue, a supposed “goal” the DCCC and DNC keep dangling under the noses of Democratic donors. They're acting as though Lamar Smith has no opponent this cycle, instead of acknowledging the primary winner and one of the most vibrant grassroots campaigns anywhere in America. 

Maybe they feel Wakely's progressive message is too strong for Texas-- although Texas Democrats found it just right. "As a labor organizer," Tom told us, "I was able to see progressivism as the necessary philosophy to extend our nation's promise to all of our citizens. As a former minister, I've always seen progressivism as a moral imperative. And as someone who has studied religious texts, I can't for the life of me find anything that grants humanity the ability to trash its only home without repercussions. With our government already relocating climate refugees from coastal Louisiana and Alaska, we cannot afford a Congress which turns two blind eyes to reality and objectivity."

That's a message that works in Austin and in San Antonio, even if it frightens Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan. Tom is promising to work to ban fracking:

"There is no middle man fuel if we're pumping any amount of excess carbon into our atmosphere. Banning fracking is essential in keeping drought-prone places (like in my home state of Texas) free from predatory corporations who cannot adequately return even a fraction of the water used back to our environment. While we've made progress, we can do so much more. While I've never and will never pretend to be an expert in climate science, I have listened to countless experts and scientists who all seem to be in agreement that we must act now. I've worked with Methodist Earthkeepers, who define themselves as missionaries of God's creation, to further cement in my promise to my constituents a moral imperative to leaving a better planet for generations to come. My guiding principle, and our campaign's motto, is that we must take care of each other. There's no better fight that exemplifies this creed than our fight to protect our planet. When I'm in Congress, you can count on me to always think of you."

His criticism of the seemingly unaccountable Lamar Smith is straight-forward and well-deserved:

My opponent, Lamar Smith, endorsed Trump this May and suggested that we could all become "enthusiastic" backers of the most unstable nominee either major party has ever seen. Trump's climate adviser claims the jury is still out on climate change. Trump himself sees climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese in order to harm American manufacturing. Congressman Smith has quickly become one of the most discussed House science chairs in recent memory for all the wrong reasons.

He's subpoenaed multiple climate groups and 17 attorneys general who are only looking into the mere possibility that the then Exxon lied to its shareholders and the public.
 
He's subpoenaed NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) scientists for presenting data he didn't like, wasting tax dollars to essentially reprimand scientists... My opponent has set an extremely dangerous precedent. First it's the climate science community, but what's next?
 
Lamar Smith is proud of this regressive activist committee he's built, which has Republicans clamoring to join for the sole purpose of political and capital gains. He's taken our last bastion of objectivity and turned it upside down. It should be considered a national disgrace. Our people should be angrier, but they're only just beginning to scratch the surface of a man who's managed to walk unscathed through the halls of the Capitol for nearly three decades.

This is a new Blue America ActBlue page we created to highlight progressives who have won their primaries and are being undercut-- rather than helped-- by a DCCC hostile to a progressive vision. We hope you’ll consider carefully the progressives, like Tom Wakely listed there, and give what you can.



A Clear Choice

Blue America endorsed Bill Ostrander in the 9 person race for the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo CA-24 congressional seat. He ran a strong issues-oriented campaign, very much in line with Bernie's political revolution, to which he ascribed. He wasn't left standing on election night and voters in the 24th will have to pick between a garden variety careerist Democrat or a corruption-tainted GOP extremist. There are no good choices there. 

A few days ago, Bill called me and told me he's backing another "Berniecrat" though, Wendy Reed, who made it through the primary and will face off against Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in November in the district next door. In line with their policy of never challenging GOP leaders, the DCCC has refused to help Reed take on their onerous task. McCarthy, one of the most corrupt members of Congress-- only Paul Ryan has taken more money from Wall Street than he has this year-- has raised $6,727,189 this cycle something like 200 times more than Reed!

We need to do something about that, since McCarthy is not especially popular there; now a white minority district, with over 36% Hispanic population. CA-23 includes much of Bakersfield and Lancaster, as well as Tehachapi, Rosamond and lots of wide open spaces and national wilderness preserves that McCarthy wants to sell off to developers, including Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

This morning, Bill sent me this note telling me why he is so enthusiastic about backing Wendy's campaign, over and above just helping her beat the odious McCarthy:

CA-23 is the district next door. The two districts meet at Los Padres National Forest, the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, space very much valued and cherished by people in both districts and space that Wendy has pledged to protect from rapacious developers. She is a land use planning activist who has worked in the community for 3 decades and, like myself, was immediately drawn to Bernie's values-and-policy oriented campaign. She went back to school to earn a Masters degree in Public Administration and is a land trust founder, and a climate change educator, with experience working with federal, state, county, and local agencies.

I saw a mailer that McCarthy sent out about her called "The Choice Is Clear." It featured a picture of Wendy and Bernie and excoriated her as a liberal. She probably didn't have the resources to create and send out a flier like that herself but I know it brought her a tremendous amount of positive attention. 

I was impressed that her top two platform commitments are (1) to get money out of politics/politics out of government-- as she said, "reversing or superseding Citizens United, eliminating loopholes for contributions, establishing limits for expenditures, excising lobbyists from the halls of government, establishing clear conflict of interest and insider trading restrictions and enforcing them mercilessly, prosecuting patronage at all levels of government, and supporting effective public funding for elections-- to restore representational self-government, and (2) to bring resources to this part of our state to invest in local infrastructure, upgrade the health and safety of our industries, and face the challenges of climate change. These aren't partisan issues and they appeal broadly to people in central California regardless of party ID.

McCarthy was advertising that he is a friend to veterans while he was whipping GOP efforts in Congress to slash Veterans Administration funding and services, and eliminate safety nets for military families. He blamed President Obama for FEMA's denial of services and loans to the Kern River Valley after the Erskine Fire, while he was whipping GOP efforts to slash FEMA funding, staffing, and services. McCarthy and the Republicans even tried to eliminate FEMA as an agency in 2012. 

McCarthy appears to do nothing for central California and nothing for the taxpayers of the 23rd district. That, along with Wendy's reasonable and innovative approach to the problems in our area, ise why I'm asking my supporters and the Blue America members who did so much to help me to contribute to her grassroots campaign today.

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

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



THIS is what 'Party Unity' Looks Like


Zephyr Teachout, my friend and Blue America endorsed candidate for Congress, just won a terrific victory for all progressives. She will be running in November as the Democratic nominee in New York's 19th Congressional District, a Hudson Valley seat that we can win with Zephyr.

Zephyr is THE authority on campaign finance.   A Fordham University law professor and activist, her book --  Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United (Harvard University Press, 2014) -- sounded the alarm about the systemic nature of corruption, and how “money in politics” undermines our democracy.

I am writing to ask that you help Zephyr to fight her big-money, Wall Street backed Republican opponent. Zephyr can make it to Congress and be the leading voice on reforming our corrupt democracy, opening the floodgates for real change. But she needs our help. Please consider making a contribution of $5, $25, $100 or more to Zephyr’s campaign.

I am grateful for the support that you and others provided to my campaign and Blue America – a stalwart ally that was first to endorse and provide on-line funding and on-going support of my campaign. And, of course, many other people and organizations moved our campaign forward, especially Bernie Sanders’ endorsement and rally, Representative John Conyers’ endorsement, Raul Grijalva’s endorsement, Democracy for America's strong advocacy on my behalf, National Nurses United, Progressive Democrats of America and my fantastic staff and volunteers.

I have much pride in what we did together. I remain active as a committed progressive advocate of economic, political and social justice, beginning this week when I go to Orlando as a member of the Democratic Party’s National Platform Committee and in my ongoing work to expand Social Security. Thank you again for the opportunity to advance a progressive agenda. Will be in touch...

For now, I ask that you turn your generosity toward Zephyr Teachout, a talented and widely respected academic and advocate who will, with your help, win a seat for progressives in the next Congress.

For Justice and Peace,

--Eric
 
Eric Kingson for Congress
P.O. Box 631
Manlius, N.Y. 13104
eric@erickingson.com



Volunteers? Bob Poe Is Paying His $15 an Hour-- An Actual Living Wage

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Credit: Daily Kos

Florida's newly, court-ordered redistricted 10th district in the Orlando area is so much bluer than it was under the state legislator's gerrymandered boundaries that the Republican incumbent, Daniel Webster, packed his bags and moved to another, redder district. There are 4 Democrats appealing to Democratic primary voters for the nomination but, as they do, the DCCC has intervened on behalf of the least suitable and most conservative of the candidates. Instead, we'd like you to consider the most competent and progressive of the candidates, Bob Poe.

Today, though, we want to tell you about a field program that Bob is running unlike any filed operation you've never seen before. Because he spends his time the way candidates should-- knocking on doors and talking to voters-- Bob learned early that one of the biggest problems in his district was a lack of opportunity for people with criminal records. They've paid their debt to society, but couldn't get jobs, housing, or car loans, which means they were utterly stuck, with no chance to build any kind of economic security or provide for their families.

Bob likes to say that "in order to make a difference, you have to be a difference." Well, Bob decided not to wait until he gets to Congress to start making a difference. That's why he started the Second Chance hiring program for his field staff. Instead of relying on volunteers or unpaid interns for his campaign, Bob hosted 3 job fairs in the district and ended up giving 30 field positions to people with records of conviction or incarceration. Most importantly, because Bob believes in walking the talk about progressive values, their campaign is paying those field staffers $15 an hourThat's the kind of person we need in Congress living our values and standing up for progressive issues. 

As you can see, Bob isn't running a typical campaign, doing whatever Democratic insiders tell him to-- unlike his reactionary New Dem, corporatist opponent, Val "I lost my gun" Demings.

Despite years working to elect Democrats and promote economic populist issues, Bob is running is own campaign, fueled by community members he's worked with for decades and the kind of grassroots support that shows he's a man who represents the people. Bob's campaign is supporting a $15 minimum wage, expanding Social Security, equal pay for equal work, comprehensive immigration reform, and reducing gun violence. 

At a time when there's so little trust and faith in our leaders in Washington, Bob stands out as his own man, running his own campaign and promoting the progressive values and issues that we all share, no matter whether the establishment Democrats are on board or not. One thing's already been made clear: a Congressman Bob Poe will be the same as candidate Bob Poe-- speaking up for the people and working to advance real progressive change in our communities. Please give what you can to help him today.



DCCC Appears Ready To Do The Right Thing In CA-25


Having failed to find a suitable conservaDem to run in California's CD-25 (Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley), the DCCC finally seems to be yelling "uncle" and offering their support to progressive candidate Lou Vince-- but with a caveat: They're indicating they will fund him IF he could fund himself!  

We know that sounds odd, but... it's the DCCC. They're like a bank-- they only give money to candidates who don't need it! So we progressives have to pony up enough money to show that Lou could run a respectable campaign without the DCCC... and then they'll kick in. They've never helped any other Democrats who have run in this district.
 
So why support Lou? He is just the kind of candidate who can win in the just barely blue L.A./Ventura district which has been represented by neanderthal Republican Buck McKeon for as long as anyone can remember and is now being misrepresented by Tea Party extremist Steve Knight. Lou is a cop and former Marine with four kids (2 adopted) and a Masters Degree in Criminology, Law and Society from UC Irvine.

But under that blue uniform beats the heart of a true progressive! His website lists progressive positions on everything from combating climate change to reforming our banking system to mass incarceration and immigration. We asked him what he thinks is the most important issue for Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and Antelope Valley residents. This is what he told us:

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. If we do not act quickly and decisively, it will soon be too late to take effective action. This is why I applaud President Obama's decision to oppose the Keystone XL project. This is a major victory for progressives and anyone who cares about a clean, sustainable future. But this is just the beginning! We have a race in California's 25th where the difference couldn't be more clear. I will stand up to any issue that poses a danger to our environment and our planet. Congressman Knight has proven time and time again to be more concerned about the interests of fossil fuel companies, not the actual people in his district. We need your help if we are going to work towards a Congress that moves to address climate change, rather than ignore it all together like Congressman Knight prefers to do.

This is a great opportunity to not only pick up a seat but to put a true progressive in it. Lou has been endorsed by two of our favorite hard-working California progressives-- Congressman Ted Lieu and State Controller Betty Yee-- and by Dr. Lee Rogers, who ran in both the last elections. And, of course, by Blue America!

Let's elect Lou Vince! You can donate to Lou Vince's grassroots campaign here.



He’s more than just a walking encyclopedia of politics

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Credit: Chester Simpson
Howie has always had his finger on the pulse of what's happening next. We're extremely lucky to have him working for us every day.

Something interesting came in the mailbox yesterday from Alan Grayson. We'd thought you might be interested in hearing what he has to say about our Howie Klein:

I was swapping e-mails with Blue America’s Howie Klein today, and the subject of a GOP Congressional seat in the Northeast came up. He knew both Democratic challengers. Knew all about them, in fact. And the same thing would be true of House candidates in the other 434 districts. Howie knows all about them, too.
There are people who actually are paid to know all about Congressional campaigns – Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, etc. I’ve read their stuff. Howie knows more than they do.

But Howie doesn’t sell what he knows. Instead, he uses that knowledge to cultivate and nurture progressive candidates all over the country. Blue America will not be supporting those two challengers that Howie knows in the Northeast, because – because – they’re not blue. But other candidates are true blue, and those are the ones who get Howie’s help. The only ones. With Howie in charge, Blue America PAC is the manager of the Progressive Farm Team.
Go Progs! Give me a “P”! Etc.

Join me and Howie Klein now in turning America blue in 2016, by contributing $9 or more to the Blue America PAC >>

You might think that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) might be doing this. Mais non, as the French would say. Despite having $100 million a year to spend, they don’t know what Howie knows. And for sure, they don’t care the way that Howie cares. Ever since the Rahm Emanuel regime, the DCCC has had a strong built-in bias against progressive candidates. And the DSCC? Don’t get me started. They can’t find their derriere with deux mains. Just look at their record last year.

So progressives really need Blue America PAC. Which is why you should help.

Politics is a team sport. Show your support for progressives all over the country by donating $9 or more to the Blue America PAC >>

At an earlier time in his life, Howie Klein was the President of Warner Reprise records. He knows countless top performers (which is why he sometimes holds contests giving away great stuff like platinum records). He doesn’t have to work anymore. He helps progressives for one reason and one reason only: because he cares.

And if you contribute to Blue America PAC, you not only have Encyclopedia Howie working for you, but you also enlist the support of the pioneering blogger Digby, and John Amato of the website “Crooks and Liars” (dot-com, of course). Because they all share the Blue America dream of making America blue. Not purple. Blue.

Chip in $9 now, and Help Make America Blue >>

Courage,
Rep. Alan Grayson
Candidate for U.S. Senate



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.



Don't Send Flowers

My name is Jacquie and I work with Digby, John and Howie at Blue America. Not sure I need to remind you (they’ve already started…) but you're about to get bombarded with "urgent" (desperate) pleas for end-of-the-quarter contributions from the DCCC, the DSCC, the DNC, and candidates and incumbents far and wide. They use these letters to compile master lists of donors— since all those organizations sell and share their e-mail addresses with... anyone they want to. Let me assure you, we don’t.

Since Howie’s been writing about the process he's going through fighting cancer we've had dozens of beautiful letters from Blue America members, many of whom wanted to know where to send flowers while he's in the hospital. He says he’s very grateful for the warm wishes but he's not allowed near flowers-- not even dried ones-- until his immune system in built back up again.

Howie asked me to suggest something else instead.

All of us were elated about the Supreme Court decision that came down Friday, putting the ultimate constitutional seal of approval on marriage equality. This year, as part of the Blue America candidate endorsement process we ask all prospective candidates about their public stand on LGBT equality, in terms of marriage, work, housing, discrimination. No candidate gets a Blue America endorsement who is wishy-washy or tentative about equality.

Another part of the screening process is gauging how dedicated candidates are towards protecting and strengthening the social welfare net conservatives have been shredding since Ronald Reagan was president. We look for candidates who fit in with the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders/Alan Grayson wing of the party; dedicated to expanding Social Security, strengthening Medicare and fighting for the legitimate interests of ordinary working families. Not one of the Blue America-endorsed candidates would compromise away the hard-fought gains that protect the elderly and the most economically vulnerable among us.

We strongly believe that our work here will eventually lead to having a real Congress that represents “We, The People.”

So... instead of flowers for Howie, how about considering helping one or more of the progressive candidates Blue America has endorsed for the 2016 cycle? These are dedicated public servants with vision, not self-serving careerists... and not near and dear to Big Business and Wall Street. Their campaigns are grassroots affairs and they are dependent on small donations to get their messages out.

You can find the whole list of our candidates here-- there are only eight so far who have earned our endorsement. Please give what you can but remember what Howie always says: there is no contribution that is too small.




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