Stop Tom Cotton From Extending the "Patriot" Act

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You have surely heard of a new Senator from Arkansas by the name of Tom Cotton. He was a 37 year old congressman who won the Senate seat formerly held by the conservative Democrat Mark Pryor in 2014. Cotton took the Senate by storm penning one of the most embarrassing documents ever written by a sitting Senator and then getting the entire GOP Senate caucus to co-sign it --- the infamous Iran Letter.  

Undaunted by this humiliation, the Republican party has decided that Cotton is the man to lead them into the future on national security issues. And unfortunately, he's decided that his next mission will be to lead the Republican charge to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act which are set to expire this June. They've even added some new powers for the NSA just to make things interesting, 

There was a lot of talk at one time about a new coalition of civil libertarian Republicans and civil libertarian Democrats coming together to reform these programs now that the nation is aware of what they're actually doing. Sadly, the number of civil libertarians in the Republican Party can fit in a small Smart Car and the civil libertarians in the Democratic Party are not a majority. And with uber-hawk Tom Cotton waving the “national security” banner we can be sure the Republicans are intent upon squelching any thoughts of reform.

This is why it's so important for Democrats to elect more real progressive civil libertarians to congress. We cannot count on this tiny faction of libertarian Republicans, led by their hypocritical grandstanding leader Rand Paul, to ever provide the numbers required to roll back the surveillance state. Hawkish national security and authoritarian police policies are in the modern GOP's DNA.

This is going to require a majority progressive Democratic Party led by people like Congresswoman Donna Edwards who is now running for the Maryland Senate seat currently held by retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Edwards has been consistent on these issues throughout her career in congress. For instance, in 2014 she voted against the USA Freedom Act, originally conceived as a reform measure which was later gutted by the Republicans in committee. She issued this statement at the time:

“After much deliberation I opposed the USA Freedom Act because I continue to believe it doesn’t strike the necessary balance between protecting our national security and protecting our 4th Amendment rights. Without question, national security issues are critically important, and I applaud all those who work at the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and others for their dedication to duty and professionalism. We must provide them with the means to gather the information necessary to keep America safe. However, we cannot allow the pursuit of that goal to infringe on the civil liberties that we, as Americans, hold sacred and fought so hard to defend.”

She will bring that same principled clarity to the Senate.

Last week the House passed yet another Republican surveillance bill. Blue America's slate of progressive civil libertarians voted against while all the usual suspects supported it. Blue America primary candidate Alex Law, who is challenging New Jersey congressman Donald Norcross gave this statement:

Yet again we have a clear difference between myself and my opponent in the Democratic primary in NJ-01. Today, Donald Norcross voted in support of the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, a bill that is a surveillance bill disguising itself as a cyber-security bill. This bill gives companies a significant expansion in their ability to monitor customers' online activities. It allows them to share vaguely defined 'cyber threat indicators,' which then automatically go to the NSA. The NSA is then authorized broad law enforcement rights that could stretch beyond cyber-security.This chain of events is a slippery slope. I totally disagree with the structure of this bill. We must stand up for individual privacy. What we have in this bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and if I were in Congress, I would have voted against it like other progressives such as Alan Grayson and Judy Chu.

The provisions of the Patriot Act which are set to expire in June should not be extended. We don't know for sure if they will. The USA Freedom Act ultimately died in the Senate when the Democrats who were in the majority at the time added a few safeguards and then couldn't overcome a filibuster. (Yes, the GOP ultimately filibustered the bill for being too weak ...) The Republicans are now in charge and Tom Cotton is working overtime to give the NSA every last item on their wishlist. Perhaps we'll get lucky and gridlock will work in favor of freedom once again. But I wouldn't count on it. 

There are simply not enough principled, progressive civil libertarians in congress to stop these abuses. We must elect more of them.

Please give what you can to stalwart civil libertarians like Donna Edwards and Alex Law.  And then, give your current representatives a call and tell them you want them to vote against any extension of the Patriot Act. 



House Republicans Defeat Elizabeth Warren's Bill In Committee--

 Give the $tudents the same deal as the banks

Senator Warren Needs More Allies In Congress Who Want To Help Students, Not Prey On Them

By now you've probably heard about Elizabeth Warren's fantastic first piece of legislation, the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act. Her goal is to lower student loan interest rates for next year from 3.4% to 0.75% -- the same rate the government loans money to the banks through the Federal Reserve discount window. As of now, unless Congress takes action-- other than drumming up faux scandals to deny President Obama a third term-- student loan interest rates will double to 6.8% on July 1st.

Boehner and Cantor, the Republicans as a party, and the Wall Street bankers who fund them, have declared Senator Warren's proposal a non-starter and have vowed to kill it. Last week Boehner shuffled it into John Kline's Education and Workforce Committee, and Kline did exactly what he was told. The proposal was defeated 23-14, all the Republicans voting NO and all but one Democrat voting YES.

All the Blue America-endorsed candidates support Elizabeth Warren's way of dealing with this problem and all of them would like to get into Congress and make sure her proposal eventually passes.

State Rep. Carl Sciortino is one of Senator Warren's Massachusetts constituents and he's running for the  House seat being vacated by Ed Markey, a seat that includes towns like Cambridge, Waltham, Medford, and Framingham, all filled with college students. Carl is 34 and has been an enthusiastic proponent of Senator Warren's approach. He knows that the future of the country lies with people going through school today.

"Our country has always taught its young people that hard work and education are keys to achieving the American dream," he told us. "But for too many families the cost of higher education has become the subject of their nightmares. While Republicans in Washington try to weaken Wall Street regulations, progressive Democrats are working to give our students the same low interest rates as our banks. We have to get serious as a nation about ensuring that our younger generation has the same opportunities to succeed as our parents and grandparents. Senator Warren has put forward a smart and creative solution, and I look forward to supporting her efforts in Congress later this year."

That's right... later this year. There will be a special election in the fall to fill Ed Markey's seat. So, like Nick Ruiz, Daylin Leach, Andy Hounshell and, of course, Alan Grayson, Carl can use some support to make sure a progressive agenda has the strongest possible allies.

We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, Amato and the Blue America Team



Republicans fear George Bush's new book could influence the midterms

It's all coming into place. My hope that America would be reminded that the mess our country is in is a direct result of George W. Bush's administration is actually coming true. I know the grand poobahs of the GOP have kept George locked in the basement for almost two years. I was pushing for President Obama and Congress to make a point to tell America that they are trying to clean up the mess they were left with via Bush & Cheney, but they've been ineffective on that front. I've written about it and so have many other bloggers, but who would have thought that it would be Republicans and George Bush himself who would lead the charge?


The Atlantic:

"Monumentally bad timing."

According to former Bush aide Matt Latimer, that's the Republican reaction to the news that former president George W. Bush will release his memoir, Decision Points, the week after the 2010 midterm elections. Yes, the races will be decided by the time the book hits stores, but as with any major print release, a slew of excerpts are sure to be leaked in the weeks prior to Nov. 2. Latimer gives his take on The Daily Beast, reporting on Democrats who are "gleeful" at the news, Republicans who are on the fence about it, and what Bush himself might be thinking:

The former president, who I knew to be an often "misunderestimated" politician, may indeed think his book will help his party--by setting the record straight. (There are parts of that record that can use some plain old Texas clarifyin'.) Undoubtedly some people will look more kindly on the Bush years now than they did at the time, particularly on national security. But the problem is that Bush himself will not be able to make his case before the elections. As with most high-profile books, W. will likely be embargoed from talking until his book is released--far too late to change the minds of any voters.

I love this reaction to the news that the Bush Memoirs are being released in November:

One prominent conservative compared the Bushies'
public-relations savvy to LeBron James.

Last night a fan at a Cleveland/Yankee game had to be escorted out of the stadium because he wore a LeBron Miami Heat jersey in Cleveland. Here's the reaction.

I hope this is the same reaction Americans will have to 'The Bush Book Bomb."

In the meantime, if the Obama administration has their way in the media, the weeks before the election could be about revisiting issues the party still has nightmares about: Why didn't we find WMD in Iraq? Did the Bush administration drop the ball on Afghanistan? What did the administration do to stave off the collapse of our economy? Was Alan Greenspan right that the Bush-led Republicans "deserved to lose"? Not to mention Katrina and "Heckuva job, Brownie" and prisoner-abuse scandals and on and on—discussed by the same cast of characters from Rove to Perino to Gillespie who presided when Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama came to power in the first place.

How soon will it be before Rahm Emanuel and James Carville circulate excerpts of Decision Points to major media outlets to get that conversation started? Maybe they'll even co-host the former president's book party.

My hope is that Meet The Press, Face The Nation, FAUX News Sunday, This Week and many others will have George Bush on for a lengthy interview so he can tout his book. Keep your fingers crossed.



Check out Blue America's GOP 2010 APP store video. "Think Crazy" UPDATED

Blue America is doing what we can to inform the public in matters that...well...matter. We are releasing a new video today.

Howie Klein explains in his story called: There's a Republican For That:

It's too easy to dismiss John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, David Vitter, Virginia Foxx and even Rand Paul and Sharron Angle as merely a gaggle of crackpots and misanthropes unworthy of being taken seriously. All of them have won Republican primaries and some have won general elections. Inasmuch as they can implement their ideas and the agendas of the corporate CEOs and lobbyists who finance their careers, they're actually dangerous to our families and our country.

Two progressive public interest political action committees, Blue America and Americans For America, have teamed up to help expose some of the real dangers behind these characters. Today we're releasing our first video: Think Crazy. Digby's is writing about Rand Paul and John is taking on his gal Sarah. I got stuck with Boehner...read on

Yes, I got Drill-Baby-Drill Palin. Sarah Palin headlines one of our new 'Republican Apps' called 'Think Crazy.' Watch the video and you'll understand the title.

Sarah Palin fits the bill perfectly. She even tries to blame environmentalists for the BP spill while screaming to all her Facebook fanboys that she still wants to "Drill, Baby, Drill." Yes, Think Crazy.

Overall it's pretty clear that the GOP is the party of Hooverville. They dug the ditch that threw us in the gutter just as Hoover did back in the day and then they turn to Hoover economics as an actual principle to run on for America's future. It's amazing. I keep saying that at times like these, you have to look to the past to see the future. Yes, there have been similar quotes from much smarter people than I, but the truth of Hooverville is undeniable.

American politics has an almost built-in dynamic wherein things just keep repeating. Movement conservatism has all but destroyed the political process in American politics and they have almost completely purged their party of any serious-minded people who are looking to help American families. Their allegiance is to a radical ideology that cares nothing but for blind obedience to the law of the free markets. Too many journalists try to characterize the Tea Party crazies as only a handful of nuts in their bowl of peanuts, but just look at who is representing their beliefs.

And as for the GOP, does Paul Ryan actually make any credible claims about economics? Absolutely not, but he's their anointed one when it comes to fiscal issues. His ideas are batshit crazy. Ayn Rand Ryan explains it all with Chris Matthews, as Digby points out.

Never say that Ryan or Hoover didn't want to end the economic crises they lived through. But they both believed that government should have balanced budgets with low taxes above all else, and that the people needed "tough love" or they would decline into indolence. They thought that businesses always knew best and they would voluntarily "do the right thing" (although I would argue that Ryan actually believes they cannot possibly do the wrong thing.) Hoover scrambled after it was too late to put some more rational policies in place, but not in time to halt the Great Depression of his own political ignominy.

The difference is that Hoover didn't know any better and didn't have the lesson of the Great Depression to fall back on and Ryan does. He apparently missed class that day (or made it up by reading Amity Schlaes puerile garbage for extra credit.) And anyone who knows better can do nothing but scream at the TV --- "he's actually trying to put us into another Great Depression" --- when they hear him say these things, as I just did.

Think John Boehner. Think Rand Paul. Think Sarah Palin. Think the GOP of 2010. Yes, Think Crazy.

UPDATE:

Digby writes about Rand Paul (she got the better assignment in my view) and as usual---nails it.

Howie's writing up the crazy TanMan John Boehner, Amato's got the kooky Grizzly Mama and I've got my favorite nutty Li'l Libertarian Teabagger, Rand Paul.

What can I say about Rand? That he's a fringy wingnut who calls himself a libertarian but believes women's bodies are owned by the state? That he's a self-accredited ophthalmologist who rails against socialist Medicare while taking millions of dollars from the program (because doctors have a "right" to make a comfortable living)? That he's a misinformed misanthrope who thinks that the Americans with Disabilities act requires two story buildings to install elevators and that unemployed workers need "tough love" rather than unemployment insurance? That he's a deluded (or mendacious) fool who thinks that civil rights for African Americans could have been achieved through voluntary efforts on the part of bigots? Well, he's all those things and more...read on

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Alan Grayson to join C&L at 4:30 PDT/7:30 EDT PM for a Special Live Chat UPDATED: Now 5 pm PDT

Media error

Alan Grayson is joining Blue America on C&L today at 4:30 PST/7:30 EST [UPDATED] 5 PM for a Special Live Chat to help with his fundraising effort. Because the Congressman is so popular and willing to fight for American families like other Democrats refuse to do, he's become a major target for the GOP and their tea party off shoot. He'll be here talking about his new bill, "The War is Making You Poor Act, HR 5353," as well as his new speech which he premiered here Friday based on Eisenhower's "Chance for Freedom' Speech. Please join us later today.

Send Democrats and Tea Partiers a message in the process.



Blue America Welcomes Our Old Friend Regina Thomas (GA-12)

History will remember this week as the one in which a tremendous stride was made down the road towards universal healthcare. But reactionary Georgia Blue Dog, John Barrow, was on the wrong side of history. A stranger to his own district and out of touch with its people, he voted twice in committee and 4 times on the floor of the House against healthcare reform. He voted against the bill last Sunday, causing an explosion of anger among Democrats back home. And then he arrogantly voted against the Senate reconciliation on Thursday evening, one of only 32 conservative Democrats to cross the aisle and voted with the GOP. But voting with the GOP is his default position on most everything. Does that make sense?

Barrow was driven out of his own Athens-based district when it was gerrymandered to make a home for another Republican. He fled to Savannah, which has a strong Democratic base-- a base he has studiously ignored while courting the wealthy (Republican) power structure. Although GA-12 leans Democratic-- Gore won there with 52%, Bush and Kerry were in a virtual dead heat and Obama won with 54%-- Barrow consistently votes as though it were a deep red district and he's been one of the worst-voting Blue Dogs-- but, only when it matters; he supports Democrats when it comes to naming post offices or honoring sports teams.

Today Blue America is honored to formally endorse former state Senator Regina Thomas, a strong advocate for working families with a long record in her district and in the state capitol. Regina will join us in the comments section (below) at 2pm (EST/11am on the West Coast). She offers her neighbors in eastern Georgia a far different outlook than John Barrow. Regina's perspective on governance is pure FDR-- the government is there to protect us from forces outside of our own control, whether that be foreign enemies or domestic predators. If Barrow's #1 concern is holding down taxes for the powerful and immensely rich transnational corporations that have financed his political career, Regina's concern is that the rich and powerful pay their fair share so that the society that has enriched them continues to prosper and thrive for everyone.

Although Barrow often votes against Democratic initiatives-- and has done so with far more frequency since Obama was inaugurated-- Regina was still surprised he so blatantly voted against the interests of his own constituents this week when he, once again, joined the GOP in opposing healthcare reform. She told me she couldn't believe he "had the nerve" to do it. She drew an interesting parallel to the one place where Barrow does support Obama: war spending.

"The cost of the Afghanistan occupation and war is astounding-- and very harmful to our country. The Congressman from GA-12 did not hesitate to vote yes-- to send more troops to Afghanistan which equates to billions of dollars. And those dollars can be more usefully spent on providing health care for 119,542 in this district; or the money could be used to hire 11,946 public safety officers; or we could keep Music, Art and PE in our schools by hiring 7,727 teachers; or we can provide 94,664 scholarships for our college students, or 87,834 Pell Grants, Or how about if we provide 3,888 affordable housing units in the 12th district, or give 265,922 children health care? Another way to look at that cost is to think about how we would benefit as a society if 66,278 children were to attend Head Start... we need more teachers; we can in one year hire 8,040 Elementary School Teachers in the 12th CD. This district needs a Representative who is committed to standing up for democratic principles. Part of "Yes, We Can," means we can provide 366,568 homes with renewable Electricity for one year. There are many, many things that should be done for this area. But we have a congressman who caters to big Corporations, the Insurance Industry and K Street lobbyists. He votes for them, not for the families in the 12th District.

See that video up top? This is the first in a series Blue America is rolling out. Regina hasn't seen it yet and is seeing it for the first time today, just as everyone else is. Turning it into a TV spot will be our PAC's first political independent expenditure of 2010. When you contribute to Regina on our ActBlue page, please also consider making an extra donation to the PAC so we can get the spot all over TV in Savannah, Augusta and all points in between.



Blue America Proudly Welcomes Back An Old Friend--Give It Up For Alan Grayson

Alan Grayson is one of Blue America's oldest friends, and someone we are always so proud to be able to say we had even a small part in electing. The Orlando area freshman is unquestionably the most inspiring and beloved Democrat in the entire House. I'm not exaggerating. He's a courageous straight shooter willing to laugh in the face of clownish bullies like Michele Bachmann and Eric Cantor. Freshmen don't have much power but there is no Democrat anywhere who the GOP would like to take out more than Grayson. He's the one who always holds up the mirror and makes them-- and their corporate paymasters-- stare directly into their own vapid, lifeless eyes.

John and Digby and I couldn't be happier to bring Alan back for another Blue America round here at Crooks and Liars. When we polled our PAC's donors for who our first incumbent endorsee for 2010 should be, it wasn't even close. In fact, Alan is the only incumbent on the Blue America endorsement list so far this year. Tomorrow is Alan's money bomb day. Let's make sure part of the money that propels him to a second term is money that comes from his oldest and most loyal friends in the blogosphere and not just from Johnny-come-latelies like Howard Dean (above) and Dennis Kucinich (below).

Now let's repair to the comments section below and find out why anyone would want to have someone as entertaining as Eric Cantor removed from the public forum and, more important, what progressives can do about Afghanistan and about turning Obama's first step in healthcare reform into the long distance run it needs to be. And, please, let's make Alan's money bomb something that old line pols like Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel take notice of. Contribute here.

His 'money bomb' info is here.



Alan Grayson will join C&L and Blue America for a live chat Monday: 12PM EST/ 9 AM PST

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Rep. Alan Grayson will join us on Monday for a quick chat before he heads back to DC as we enter the final stages of health care reform. Please check out his website "Grayson Has Guts."

As you know, he says what's on his mind and it's usually calling republicans out for their gutless behavior.

The RNC, GOP and every other republican/teabagger group have targeted Alan Grayson as enemy number one and they want him defeated at all costs.

We're participating in a "Money Bomb" for him that takes place on November 2, so it'll be great that he'll stop by and chat with us during his insanely busy schedule.

See you all tomorrow....




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