The Koch Brothers Give Candidates Millions... But We Have Guitars

Yesterday we ended our Barenaked Ladies guitar giveaway. In the end, 403 donors gave $13,790, most of it to progressive activists and congressional candidates Norman Solomon (CA-2) and David Gill (IL-13). The average contribution was $34.20 and the winner was Christopher Bugbee who gave a recurring contribution to Norman and David of $25.00. He's the proud owner of a Fender Strat signed by all the members of the Barenaked Ladies-- including ex-lead singer Steven Page. And now we're on to another guitar and another campaign! This time a sleek black Squier Telecaster signed by all the members of Filter.

The idea is that we're going to send the guitar as a thank you to one random supporter of Ken Aden's Run 2 End Hunger II here. It was signed-- back in 2002-- by all the members of Filter, riding high on their smash hit, "Hey Man, Nice Shot." Before becoming a candidate for Congress, Ken, an Iraq and Afghanistan War vet was immersed in running a non-profit community-based self-help group in Arkansas, Residents 4 Arkansas, Inc. Last month he was honored by the White House for his community service and met with President Obama and members of his cabinet to talk about the role of volunteerism in America. Ken has been awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Multinational Force and Observers Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. Right now he's in the middle of a 253 mile, 7 day run across his district (ending May 5) to raise awareness and to raise cans of food for families who are hungry in Arkansas. When he ends his run, Blue America will thank one of the supporters of Ken's candidacy with the Filter guitar. Supporters can contribute here or send a check-- or even just a note-- to PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Everyone will have an equal chance to "win" the guitar, regardless of how much you contribute-- or even if you just let us know you're praying for Ken or rooting for him.

Some may see Ken as a "do-gooder" but he's a tough as nails progressive running in the reddest district in Arkansas. Rather than shrink away from a fight as others in his state have done, this Army Combat Veteran is taking it to the streets and standing up for equal rights for all. As you've probably guessed by now, the main part of his campaign focus is on community service work-- as well as renewable energy technology, veterans rights, and the protection of Social Security and Medicare. In a recent quote he said that "if you even think of cutting Medicare and Social Security you ARE a criminal! The time for corporate prostitution has come to an end!"

As we mentioned on the Act Blue page, we were chatting with Ken last week and he told us about a woman he met while out campaigning the weekend before. She considered herself an independent, and was a supporter of Ken's very right-wing opponent-- Wal-Mart's personal Congressman, Steve Womack-- back in 2010.

"I wish I would have met you back then, because I never would have voted for him," is just what she told Ken on Saturday.

We liked that, because it is the opening lyric of Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot," we figured that would be the perfect guitar for Ken's campaign. (Not to mention that Ken is a huge fan of Filter's music himself.) What Ken's doing is so important that we wanted to encourage all of our friends to help. But, since we know we can't ask you to send canned food through the mail even though we are 100 percent in support of our brothers and sisters at the APWU, we thought we'd ask you to pledge to donate $25.30 to Ken's race-- that's one dime for every mile that he'll be running across the district. Of course if you can't donate that amount any help would be greatly appreciated. And if you want to contribute more... please don't hesitate.

And, for every person who makes a contribution through this page for Ken's campaign, you will be entered in a random drawing to win a guitar signed by every member of Filter as a "thank you" from Blue America. Everyone has the same shot, whether you contribute one dollar or 1,000 dollars-- or even if you just send us a note to the PO Box.

So don't delay-- please make your contribution to Ken's campaign today, and by doing so, you'll have a direct hand in ending the plight of impoverished families today. GO KEN GO!!

Blue America Is Giving Away An Autographed Barenaked Ladies Guitar

I first met the Barenaked Ladies even before someone shot the funky video above. "If I Had $1,000,000" was on their first album, Gordon but American media showed no interest in the song, the album or the band. The band, undaunted by their lack of success, kept playing shows and building a grassroots following across America. I remember, several years-- and several albums-- later bringing a program director from a radio station in Columbus, Ohio to a concert. It was in the city's biggest indoor concert venue, the Celeste Center, and the 10,200 tickets had all sold out in advance. The program director was stunned. "How could this be happening in my city without us even knowing about it?" he wondered aloud. His station helped "break" the band-- at least to the mainstream. But it was the grassroots and the hard work that really broke the Barenaked Ladies even before the 1998 platinum smash hit "One Week" from Stunt.

Dr. David Gill and author and activist Norman Solomon have been working the grassroots angle for a very long time. And both are on the verge of national prominence. When I asked Ed Robertson if it would be OK for me to give away the beautiful Fender Strat all the members of the band has signed and given to me when I retired from Warner Bros, he replied immediately, "Happy to help out the ailing American political system wherever we can!"

So... I gave Blue America and Progressive Democrats of America the guitar and Blue America and PDA are going to give it away to a randomly-selected donor on a new Act Blue page, If I Had A Million Dollars. This is the letter we sent out to all the Blue America members last night:

A few years ago the Barenaked Ladies sang in one of their breakthrough hits about what they'd do with a million dollars:

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you a fur coat
But not a real fur coat-- that's cruel

If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you an exotic pet
Like a llama or an emu

To each his own. Blue America and Progressive Democrats of America have something different in mind for a million dollars-- helping elect two of the most outstanding progressive candidates running for office anywhere this cycle, Norman Solomon in California and Dr. David Gill in Illinois. But both organizations are grassroots groups and neither one of us-- nor even both of us together-- has a million dollars. Instead we have a beautiful Fender stratocaster guitar that has been autographed by each member of the Barenaked Ladies. Would you like that... instead of an emu?

We need to raise some money to help Norman and David win their tough races. David has already won a difficult primary against a conservative, Machine-backed Democrat, who finally conceded Friday. Now he'll face whomever the GOP Machine forces down Republicans' throats. Norman still has a primary ahead of him-- and if he comes out in the top two, as is expected, he'll face off against a more Establishment character for a seat in Congress.

David is in an open Democratic-leaning district, so as long as he can get his message out, he's likely to win in November. And Norman's district is one of the most Democratic and progressive districts anywhere in America. Both candidates have been endorsed by both PDA and Blue America. This is the first time our two groups have ever gotten together for a fundraising effort. If you contribute any amount to these two candidates on this ActBlue page you could be the lucky winner of the Barenaked Ladies guitar.

It doesn't matter if you donate $10 or $1,000. Everyone has an equal chance to win the guitar. Just go to this page any time this week and donate to both the candidates. At the end of this week we'll pick one person at random and send him or her the very special Barenaked Ladies thank you gift-- the beautiful Fender Stratocaster guitar autographed by each member of the Barenaked Ladies (shown in photo, above).

It’s Time to Close California’s Nuclear Power Plants... A Guest Post By Norman Solomon

A few weeks ago Blue America endorsed Norman Solomon for the North Bay seat Lynn Woolsey is expected to give up next year. People have asked me why the rush and pointed out that some of the other candidates are "liberals" too, "like Norman." There are very few people "like Norman." He's not just a movement progressive-- rather than a "liberal too"-- his is a voice that has helped define what the progressive movement in America is. If you can, please consider making a donation to Norman's campaign. As you'll be able to see from the guest post below, it's not likely he'll be funded by any of the utilities who have given generously to the "liberals too" running against him for the nomination.

It’s Time to Close California’s Nuclear Power Plants

By Norman Solomon

The facts all point to this “inconvenient truth”-- the time has come to shut down California’s two nuclear power plants as part of a swift transition to an energy policy focused on clean and green renewable sources and conservation.

The Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo and the San Onofre plant on the southern California coast are vulnerable to meltdowns from earthquakes and threaten both residents and the environment.

Reactor safety is just one of the concerns. Each nuclear power plant creates radioactive waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years. This is not the kind of legacy that we should leave for future generations.

In the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, we need a basic rethinking of the USA’s nuclear energy use and oversight. There is no more technologically advanced country in the world than Japan. Nuclear power isn’t safe there, and it isn’t safe anywhere.

The perils to people are clear. In a recent letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein noted that “roughly 424,000 live within 50 miles of the Diablo Canyon and 7.4 million live within 50 miles of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.”

As someone who was an Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, I believe it would be a tragic mistake for anyone to loyally accept the administration’s nuclear policy. The White House is fundamentally mistaken in its efforts to triple the budgeting of federal loan guarantees for the domestic nuclear power industry, from $18 billion to $54 billion.

Our tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the nuclear power industry. Instead, we should be investing far more in solar, wind and other renewable sources, along with serious energy conservation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a nuclear-friendly fox guarding the radioactive chicken coop. The federal government has no business promoting this dangerous industry while safe and sustainable energy resources are readily available.

The fact that federal law imposes a liability cap of about $12 billion on a nuclear power accident is a reflection of the fact that those plants are uninsurable on the open market.

As a candidate for Congress in the district that includes Marin and Sonoma counties, I intend to make this a major campaign issue. It remains to be seen whether my one declared opponent, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, will join me in urging a rapid timetable for the closure of California’s nuclear power plants.

Huffman has ties to California’s nuclear-invested utility PG&E. Between 2007 and 2009, according to campaign finance data compiled by nonpartisan, he received $11,100 from PG&E, which owns and operates the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

While Huffman and other state lawmakers in February signed a letter to a federal commission on America’s nuclear future citing seismic “concerns which deserve to be more closely examined,” the time for equivocation on nuclear power is long past. We don’t need yet more study on whether to operate nuclear plants on fault lines.

People want bold and responsible leadership as we face up to the well-documented realities of nuclear power on this fragile planet.

Live Chat: Blue America PAC Welcomes Norman Solomon (D-CA)

Media error

It's not very often that I get to know the person that Blue America PAC is endorsing for Congress years before they actually decide to run, but that's the case here as I now welcome Norman Solomon to the Blue America and Progressive communities and wholeheartedly put my support behind his campaign. I'm really pleased that he's coming here to help launch his fight to represent the true left when it comes to matters like the vast war machine and the many unnecessary nuclear energy power plants that our country's elites has embraced.

We meet in 2007 for coffee after he released his book entitled Made Love Got War, which is an autobiographical look at his life's work and that's when I found out that he's a very serious and principled man who has a history of standing up to the military industrial complex along with the nuclear power juggernaut and who stands strong with all working class Americans.

(Please donate to his campaign here.)

Unfortunately we are witnessing in real time the agonies that Japan is facing after suffering an 9.0 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami followed by severe aftershocks and power losses which has wreaked havoc to their Fukushima nuclear plant to the point where it's now at least on par with the great disaster in Chernobyl. There's an outcry from Japan now because many people feel that the government has been hiding the facts from them, while media elites in our country try to tell Americans that nuclear power is so nice and cozy and safe and we shouldn't worry. Even as we speak, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Seeks 20-Year Extension in California.

No shock there, right?

He's also been outspoken against needless and endless wars, supports a woman's right to choose and equal rights's for the LGBT community so what's not to like?. Norman has all the qualities that make up a great progressive candidate from Marin/Sonoma county. The right kind of Progressive candidate. The candidate that will buck the party system and fight for real progressive values and will be an outspoken leader on these issues. He's not just a cookie cutter politician that bows down to the party leadership. He's independent minded in a good way, but will not compromise his values.

Here's some of his accomplishments from his About Norman Solomon page on his website:

*Co-Chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for North Bay

*Organized and went on three missions to Baghdad prior to the invasion of Iraq seeking alternatives to war.

*Health-care Not Warfare National Co-Chair (with Congressman John Conyers and Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association

*Recipient of numerous awards including the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, and the Annual Ruben Salazar Journalism Award

*From 1997 to 2010, as founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, oversaw policy research and liaison with thousands of experts on global warming, foreign policy, labor rights, “welfare reform,” economic equity, lax enforcement of federal regulations, civil liberties and a wide range of other topics related to federal, state and local government policies nationwide

*One of the lone voices on national television against invading Iraq before the start of the Iraq war in early 2003, appearing on CNN and other major TV networks more than a dozen times to argue for diplomacy instead of a U.S. attack

*Co-chair of the state Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus foreign policy committee

*Organized and went on fact-finding trip to Afghanistan in 2009

*The New York Times Magazine has called him “a leading progressive activist.” The Los Angeles Times has called him “a formidable thinker and activist.”

That's a tremendous record of achievements so please join us in welcoming to C&L and Blue America PAC, Norman Solomon.

Please don't forget donate to his campaign at our Blue America act blue page here. He'll need your help to win this race.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.