Blue America Welcomes Our Old Friend Alan Grayson Back For A Live Chat

Congressman Grayson's clip above is positively existential. It's hard to believe it's coming from a Member of Congress. Of course, it's hard to believe there's a Member of Congress of Alan Grayson's calibre. And I get the feeling there are an awful lot of people in the Orlando area who know just how lucky they are. On the other hand, Alan has drawn a veritable circus sideshow of opponents, each one fringier and more insane than the other. Tomorrow is primary day in Florida and we'll be watching with interest as a small number of disheartened and disillusioned Republicans pick over the 4th and 5th tier candidates hoping for the nomination-- from Patricia Sullivan who (publicly) claims Sarah Palin as a role model, Dan Fanelli who proudly (and publicly) flies his racist flag for everyone to see, to the kook, Ross Bieling, whose platform is impeaching President Obama and the hate talk radio guy, Todd Long, who was found passed out drunk one morning in front of a local elementary school to a state legislator, Kurt Kelly, who disgraced himself last month by interpreting Rep. Grayson's efforts to bring the troops home to safety as wanting them to die and then to the feeble fave of the Establishment, Dan Webster, who's best known for pushing a radical religious agenda that has included ending the right of divorce and introducing the legislation that started the whole tragic Terri Schiavo debacle. And on top of that the Florida TEA Party has nominated Peg Dunmire, someone even nuttier than that crew -- well, not nuttier than Fanelli -- running as well.

Goal ThermometerAnd then there's Alan Grayson, probably the most beloved and effective champion of ordinary working families of any Member of the House. Today's the climax of a moneybomb his campaign launched a few days ago. Blue America has our own goal for Alan's campaign, an even $50,000. As you can see from the thermometer on the right, we're more than two-thirds there. I hope you watched the video up top. It knocked me out. Here's some of what Orlando's greatest gift to America had to say:

There are two groups in this country right now. I call those groups Us, and Them.

We want more jobs, better schools, better health, better pensions, and we want to keep our homes. We want not just jobs but jobs that mean something, jobs that pay a decent wage. We want to live a good life.

And then there's them. They simply have one goal and one goal only. And that is to destroy the government. They're not conservatives. They're anarchists.

I don't know why they want anarchy. In fact, they don’t know, either. Even they don't know what kind of inner darkness causes them to seek wars without end, to burn the planet, to welcome poverty for so many, to leave the old and the sick helpless, to cheer oil in the Gulf. I've spoken to enough of them to be able to tell you that they themselves don’t know why.

But that's what they want. So, now we have to decide who is going to run this country. Is it Us, or is it Them? And what's at stake is the future. The future in a country that my five children will live in, that your children will live in, that you'll live in for the rest of your life.

Are we going to have a country with a decent middle class life for everyone-- jobs, health care, roads, schools? Or, are we going to have poverty, cheap labor, helplessness and hopelessness? The choice is yours.

I think President Obama feels much the same way. I wish he had the guts to say it the way Alan Grayson does. Please, if you only contribute to one campaign this year, it's Alan Grayson who has earned that honor. Please join us below in the comments section to participate in a love blogging session with Congressman Alan Grayson.



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.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Fred Johnson (D-MI)

One of the sharpest candidates running for the House this year is Dr. Fred Johnson in western Michigan, for a seat being abandoned by the ever-ambitious twitterer Pete Hoekstra. In April Fred did a great guest post at DWT on education and societal priorities-- well worth reading. Today, Blue America's latest endorsed candidate, he's joining us for a live blogging session below in the comments section.

Before we get into the reasons we've endorsed Fred for the seat, I want to mention that he gave us an autographed copy of a book he wrote with Tayannah Lee McQuillar, Tupac Shakur: The Life And Times Of An American Icon which we will be giving away to a randomly selected donor today. To qualify for the drawing, please give any amount-- there is no minimum-- at the Blue America PAC page. You might be interested in knowing that all the money donated through this page this weekend will be put towards campaign advertising on Michigan blogs.

A former marine and a genuine progressive, Fred is well positioned to take advantage of the rapidly changing demographics and political identifications in the district. 2008 saw a huge jump in the Democratic vote throughout the district. This was delivered primarily through the top-notch voter registration and GOTV efforts of the Campaign for Change. The district now has a whopping 45,000 first time voters, who can deliver this seat to Fred in November. Despite the fact that conventional wisdom calls this a safe Republican district, it is very much worth noting that Senator Levin won here with 53% of the vote, and President Obama fell just short, at 48.5%. This district is turning purple rapidly, and 2010 can complete the process.

To give you a sense of Fred's priorities, here's a statement he gave me soon after I first met him this spring:

Continue reading »



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona

When Arizona's accidental governor signed SB 1070 into law in April, Digby, John and I put up a new Blue America page, One America, dedicated to helping Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) fight back against Know Nothings and teabaggers in his state. Yesterday Congressman Grijalva met with President Obama at the White House to discuss comprehensive immigration reform and we invited him to join us for a chat below in the comments section.

Grijalva, as we explained at One America, is the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a booming voice on behalf of working families on every issue that comes before Congress. He helped lead the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped lead the fight against Wall Street predators and helped lead the fight for equitable health care. And he was the first to step up and speak out, at great political -- and personal -- peril, against SB 1070, urging the governor to veto what is clearly an unconstitutional bill. He even called for a boycott and pointed out that "one of the first conventions to cancel was Martin Luther King's fraternity, which would have brought up to 5,000 people. It was going to have a convention in Phoenix and within a few days of the governor's signature they canceled and moved it to Las Vegas. That should have been a harbinger of things to come for the governor and the state legislature... I find it ironic that the resort industry and Chamber of Commerce are so concerned about the loss of business, but have yet to state publicly how they feel about the law.”

There's a pattern here. 1070 was the peak of a crescendo that's been building in the state for the last five or six years.

...At some point soon one out of every three kids coming into kindergarten is going to be Latino in this state. This growing population is seen as a threat. Whether it's Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, you name it, it's just feeding and feeding. Underlying the issue of immigration here in Arizona and in other parts has been the issue of race. What 1070 did, both in Arizona and on a national level, is put the question of race front and center in the debate. It was always there, but now it's out in the open.

...We're going to look for opportunities to encourage people to come to this state, but to come with a sense that they're part of the opposition to this law, as opposed to blindly ignoring the fact that we have this law in this state. We're looking at a political change that is probably a decade away. So in the meantime what becomes the avenue to undo this law is the courts.

This year, because of his forthright stand against SB 1070, the GOP has targeted Rep. Grijalva and they and their front groups have been pouring a great deal of money into the election. This is anything but a safe seat. Although Pima and Santa Cruz counties went for Obama in 2008, Pinal, Maricopa, Yuma and La Paz counties all voted Republican. Rep. Grijalva has been popular in the district but the Republicans have their divisive engine on overdrive. Our guy doesn't whore himself out to lobbyists and corporate PACs. Digby, John and I want to ask you to consider joining us in doing what you can to retain a true tribune for ordinary working American families. That's why Raúl Grijalva is the only Member of Congress aside from Alan Grayson with his own personal Blue America page! Today marks the first of a monthly series Crooks and Liars will host with Congressman Grijalva. Help us make him feel at home.



Good Ole Glenn Beck Comes Through Again

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Well... not exactly. You see, Blue America joined the Color of Change advertising boycott of the crazed and demented Glenn Beck Show on Fox. Every time we run an ad campaign, we instruct all the networks to not run any Blue America spots on Beck's programs. But they sometimes run them anyway. "Oh, no," you think? Actually, it's wonderful. Although he has a big-- albeit stupid-- audience, there are some people watching for the sheer hysteria and trainwreck quality of it all. So why wonderful? Well, every time they run a Blue America spot on his show, they refund the money. So we have his cake and eat it too.

Example, Blue America has spent nearly $100,000 this year making sure that voters in the 8 counties that make up the Arkansas' Democratic heartland were aware of Blanche Lincoln's voting record. More often than not, the vast majority of voters, anywhere, don't really know much about their candidates. They knew Blanche was a "Democrat," like FDR and JFK and Clinton and Obama... but not much more. And they have a pretty good idea about where Republicans stand when it comes to their attitudes towards working people. So Blanche benefited while she played footsie with the Chamber of Commerce and other right wing front organizations. Well, $100,000 in targeted advertising in just a few counties and go a very far way and we watched excitedly as Blanche's re-elect ratings went down and down and down, not in Republican counties, but in traditional Democratic areas along the Mississippi. She's unelectable now.

And last week we got another nice check back from our agency for $1,037 worth of ads that ran on Glenn Beck's shows in Arkansas. Usually we just turn the checks around and buy more ads on MSNBC or BET, the Food Channel, USA Network, HGTV or CNN. But Blanche is toast; no need to waste any more money on that one. And besides, the labor unions and other groups have come to the party with 4 or 5 million dollars. No one will miss our $1,037. So... what should we do with it? How about using it to help defeat a couple particularly noxious Blue Dogs?

You have noticed that five of our 8 endorsed candidates so far this year are running in primaries against especially egregiously conservative Democrats. Regina Thomas is running against anti-healthcare Blue Dog John Barrow in Georgia. Connie Saltonstall is taking on anti-choice and C-Street cultist Bart Stupak in northern Michigan. Doug Tudor (D-FL) is up against the only non-incumbent Blue Dog to have been officially endorsed by the Blue Dog Caucus, reactionary Lori Edwards. State Senator Craig Pridemore is being challenged by a stealth establishment candidate and multimillionaire, Denny Heck, in southern Washington. And Marcy Winograd is battling it out with Blue Dog and notorious warmonger Jane Harman in Los Angeles.

Hopefully by now you've seen this ad our friends at Donkey on the Edge, Steve Foster and Sean Hanish:

We're trying to get a 30 second version of this up on TV in eastern Georgia. It costs just $25 to run the ad on Anderson Cooper's CNN show in Vidalia or in Statesboro. It costs $175 for Augusta. Of course in Augusta we can use a secret weapon to reach people-- HGTV's "Property Virgins," which only costs $60. And I think the Colbert Nation will love the ad in Savannah where it costs $45 to run. CNN's "Situation Room" is a good deal in Statesboro and in Vidalia ($25) and will work in Savannah ($65) and Augusta ($70) too. We'd really appreciate it if you'd help us by contributing whatever you can to the Blue America PAC itself. And, let us know who else you'd like us to do a similar ad for by giving them a contribution with one cent added on. That one cent will count as a vote. So...vote here. And in the comments section can you let us know what you think are the best places to advertise our candidates on TV. We're not allowed to ask them-- it's the law-- so we're asking you.



Blue America Welcomes Bill Hedrick (D-CA)

We've been having a tough time finding even very progressive candidates willing to think for themselves on Afghanistan and not just go along with Obama and the Pentagon. Bill Hedrick, as you can see from the above video, is not one of those. Maybe it's because so many of his children are or have been serving in the military overseas, but Bill has a very clear vision of America's role in Afghanistan-- and it sure isn't as an occupier or as a nation-builder. We'll talk with Bill about that below in the comments section as Blue America formally endorses him in his race for the congressional seat currently held by one of the most corrupt men-- according to, of all sources, Fox News-- in the U.S. Congress, Ken Calvert.

Bill Hedrick has been a public school teacher in Riverside County, California for 35 years. And his wife is a public school teacher too. Bill is also serving his 5th term as president of the Corona-Norco School Board, one of the biggest in the state, responsible for over 50,000 children. In 2008 he stepped up and ran against Calvert. But a school teacher running against an entrenched favorite of Wall Street? The DCCC had no interest in helping-- and they didn't. Outspent 5-1, Bill ran an effective grassroots campaign and came closer to dislodging a Republican incumbent than any other Democrat in the country who didn't actually do it. Bill spent $191,461 and Calvert spent $1,150,432. Bill received 123,890 votes and Calvert edged him with 129,937.

This year is different... kind of. Sensing a winner, the DCCC has given Bill their blessing-- but not much else-- and certainly no money. So for Bill, it's all about volunteers and grassroots tactics again. But that makes sense for someone with deep roots in the community anyway. He told me that the big issue in CA-44, a Republican-leaning district that Obama won in 2008, is jobs and that almost all the other issues flow from that overarching one. Sometime he seems frustrated that the Democratic Party, Inc in Washington isn't getting it when it comes to the pain real people are feeling in the heartland.

The national Democratic Party needs to focus more on stimulus that supports small business recovery and job creation. In a region like this small businesses are the economic engines of recovery and job growth. The big banks aren't lending. I think the president is moving in the right direction but what we need is an infusion of money for community banks with an obligation that they will make loans to small, local businesses. Calvert voted for Bush's massive Wall Street bailout twice, a bailout with no accountability. I opposed that last time and, believe it or not, found some commonality-- on that-- with the Ron Paul folks who were also opposed.

Calvert has also been a big supporter of so-called "free trade," which is not how I see the economic future of this country and is exceedingly unpopular in this district. We've been hemorrhaging jobs. This district used to be a manufacturing area-- steel, light industry... but no more. NAFTA and policies like that sent the jobs overseas and those jobs never came back. Many in the Tea Party movement out here have stopped talking about all that anti-immigrant stuff and started focusing on the real problem: the old fashioned extreme greed that maximizes profits no matter what the cost to everyone else. People are starting to wake up to the fact that companies that became successful in America and because of America have been off-shoring jobs and have no loyalty to our country, our workers or our interests.

Calvert always claims to be an "independent voice for Riverside County;" it's baloney. He never differs from his party. I will do what's best for my constituents even if it's at odds with party policy. We need an emphasis on community banks, not Wall Street. We need job creation here and we seem to be stuck in policies that create jobs in China. We need policies that encourage manufacturing in the United States.

That's why Blue America is so enthusiastic about Bill's campaign. No one has to twist his arm to do the right thing. He decided to get into national politics because he sees the need to do the right thing. He's like the polar opposite of a Blue Dog. He has every intention of joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus and when he talks about being at odds with his party, it isn't because their policies aren't conservative and special interest-oriented enough; it's because they're too conservative and too oriented towards special interests. Bill has been and continues to be a man who analyzes the problems this country is facing through the eyes of everyday American working families, not through the eyes of the political and business elites that run both parties in DC. We need more Democrats like Bill Hedrick. Please consider contributing to his campaign, volunteering here and getting the real story on Ken Calvert (and by all means examine the official police report on his arrest for lewd conduct with a prostitute in a public park). In fact, if you have some time, here's the Fox News special on corruption in Congress, well worth watching beginning to end. Calvert's astounding section begins at around 25 minutes in.



Blue America's new Afghanistan action on war funding: 'No Means No!'

Media error

(h/t Heather)

Rachel Maddow highlights portions of the ridiculous McChrystal memos that were leaked to try and strong-arm Obama into sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Maddow: Over and over and over again this leaked report raises the specter of failure, of defeat in Afghanistan. Even as it defines what's going on in Afghanistan right now as I quote, "not a war in the conventional sense." If it's not a war but a thing that's not a war that we could lose....

Of course no one quite understands what it would be to win this not war either, but losing is perhaps politically stronger than the existentially dread of doing something indefinitely that just can't be won.

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Blue America is taking a stand against an escalation in the Afghanistan war as the military is putting on their propaganda full court press on President Obama to send more troops in. We want to empower the 32 progressives in Congress that voted no to funding the war supplemental last time out and also expand the list so we can block further funding of the war. The American people do not like this war and Congress should represent that fact. C&L honors our troops and makes sure to list the members of the military that have fallen in Iraq Afghanistan every Sunday and although the media for the most part ignores our fallen heroes, we do not. I was happy to see that the President wasn't immediately bowing to the mighty general and remained cautious in his approach to the Afghanistan situation.

“Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way – you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.”

Howie Klein explains:

Starting today expect to see a concerted attack on the president from the "We-Want-Obama-To-Fail-Right," making it harder for Democrats to back away from his misguided Afghanistan policies. But none of these games changes the fact this is a pointless and unwinnable war and must be brought to a close as soon as possible. This week Blue America is launching No Means No! a fundraising effort to help bolster members of Congress who already know that and who have been working diligently to end it.

If Obama keeps his pledge to end the Bush-era supplemental funding process, future appropriations for Afghanistan will be part of the budget, which means Pay-Go rules kick in. That leaves Congress with two choices when allocating money for the occupation of Afghanistan: raising taxes or cutting social programs. That's the next big battle facing Washington.

Here's the list of the House members who stood tall and refused to be strong-armed by Rahm Emanuel into voting for more war funding. I'll be having on Alan Grayson Thursday for a live chat on C&L to discuss the unfortunate situation George Bush left President Obama and America to deal with.

Digby lends her sharp perceptions to the latest campaign being waged by the military to hijack another war.

The military is obviously turning up the heat in Washington to get us into a much bigger war in Afghanistan and it's being done the usual way, with lies and leaks and back stabbing and grandstanding. And the politics are as confused as ever.

For me, this one is easy. Afghanistan is the most unlikely place to win a war on the planet. To apply the lessons learned in Iraq (such as they were) to this country seems insane to me --- especially the concept of "counter-insurgency," so beloved by the McChrystalites, which is being bizarrely misapplied. But more important than that: whenever you hear people saying that the primary purpose in continuing a war is because "to leave would send the wrong message" and declaring that "perceptions" are the reasons for continuing a slaughter, you know you are in Pentagon NeverNever land.

When you realize that we've had a hundred thousand more troops in Iraq -- which is like a third of the size of Afghanistan geographically -- then you really see how insane it is to send in a few more thousand troops into the impossible situation of trying to maintain the peace and defeat an insurgency and Taliban uprising. The Karzai government is also having problems being viewed as a legitimate ruling body by the Afghan people with all the charges of voter fraud.

Rachel Maddow, in the above video clip, goes over McChrystal's memo in detail and makes some accurate observations. His arguments are silly and really make no sense at all. Kevin Drum writes that even Gen. McChrystal describes the Afghanistan government as corrupt:

"The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and ISAF's own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government," McChrystal says.

The result has been a "crisis of confidence among Afghans," he writes. "Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents."

Spreading 28,000 troops throughout a country where we already had 140,000 in place would almost certainly have had no effect. But most of the troops were deployed in Baghdad, where it meant a near doubling of capacity, and that did have an effect. Baghdad was so central to the rest of Iraq that a reduction of violence there had a country-wide effect.

But no such concentration is possible in Afghanistan. Kabul isn't as important to Afghanistan as Baghdad is to Iraq, and in any case Kabul is already relatively safe. It's the rest of the country that needs more troops, and it's hard to think of any single place they could be concentrated enough to have a real impact.

Even though Kevin is uncertain about what will happen, what he outlines is a hopeless situation. How can we win this war, if it is a war and the hand-picked government is corrupt and their people know it? It's not shocking that Bush turned the country over to a man that seems to have rigged the election.

But let's face it, Americans don't like to lose in anything. So using the "we'll lose if you don't give me more troops or else" " strategy can have an impact to some who have not been following the situation closely.

Obviously the Neocon warhawks who helped get us in Iraq and Afghanistan will be given a huge megaphone to attack the president by the media even though they should be shunned. So please join in Blue America's action, because these bold progressives will be put under tremendous pressure again to vote for more war funding...



Chris Carney, Comcast and Warrantless Wiretaps

Blue America has been asking for donations to help in our nonpartisan campaign to hold members of Congress accountable when they vote against the Constitution. For the past two weeks we've been running TV spots, radio spots and newspaper ads in Chris Carney's northeast Pennsylvania congressional district to make sure his constituents know that he is behaving like a Republican rubber stamp, not like the Democrat they thought they elected in 2006. Today the ACLU, as well as Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold issued strong statements showing what a complete sham the "compromise" the Republicans and a handful of reactionary Democrats have worked out. On top of that, as Glenn Greenwald explained yesterday, Comcast-- Carney's #2 campaign donor-- is protecting him from his own constituents by censoring the debate and refusing to allow the Blue America ads to run (although all the radio ads, 7 full page newspaper ads and the non-Comcast TV ads have all been running). Listen to the Blue America radio ad that has been running all over Carney's district.

I'm sure you can guess which side of this battle John W. McCain is on. If you would like to stand with Blue America, most congressional Democrats and Barack Obama in preventing warrantless wiretaps on American citizens and preventing retroactive immunity for criminal allies of the Bush Regime please consider even a $5 or $10 contribution to the Blue America vs Retroactive Immunity fund today.




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