History Will Remember The Voices of Resistance

As you know, millions of ordinary Americans in every part of this country-- red states, blue states-- are resisting the authoritarian, even fascist, impulses of the new Trump-Bannon-Pence regime. And, so far, that resistance has scored some remarkable victories-- above and beyond February 12th’s planned event in Chicago where hundreds will show up to “moon Trump Tower” at 4pm-- Operation "Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes."

Ordinary people-- even more than the media or elected officials-- forced the Trump Regime to reverse the announced federal hiring freeze for the Veterans Administration. In the last few days several federal judges halted the Trump/Bannon unconstitutional travel ban aimed at Muslims. The massive airport protests last weekend resulted in several Trump cabinet members pointedly overriding #PresidentBannon's horrifying scheme to deport legitimate American residents, including Green Card holders and even Iraqis who fought alongside American soldiers.

An effective boycott coupled with widespread protests led to Uber's CEO dropping out of a Trump advisory council and pledging $3 million and immigration lawyers for its drivers (after 200,000 Uber users dropped the app) and Lyft responded by giving a million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fight the illegal Trump/Bannon immigration ban. The Resistance made a massive difference to the ACLU, which normally raises 3-4 million dollars a year and took in $24 million in just one weekend of protests!

Meanwhile Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has become more popular and respected than ever before, enrollment ads are airing despite Trump's initial orders to take them down and despite ugly Republican efforts, Obamacare had enrolled 9.2 million people before this year's application deadline.

The Health and Human Services, EPA, US Department of Agriculture gag orders were lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure from the public and from members of Congress standing up to Trumpist bullying.

So far, 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science and against the dangerous “climate change” denial-ism led by crackpots like Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Trump himself. Renewable energy is growing despite Trump-- and is likely to continue to do so.

Reports have been flooding in from everywhere that more and more people of different career/religious/economic/ethnic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before. And Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.

Trump's approval ratings are the lowest of any president in history at this point in his term. An unprecedented 40% of Americans would already like to see him impeached! And efforts are underway! Governors, state attorney generals, mayors and local officials are standing up to Trump and his toxic agenda and authoritarian policies. Please consider showing the real leaders in Congress that we have their back when they do the right thing and RESIST.

This week, two reporters from entertainment-oriented magazines called to ask me about the effectiveness of popular culture protests against Trump and his policies. Expectations are building for The Grammy Awards shows. More and more artists have been  writing and recording anti-Trump songs. High profile athletic teams-- and many others-- are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels and his other businesses. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion collection, citing the brand's poor performance. And this weekend, theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just-released and  extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin, the must see film, I Am Not Your Negro, which is the latest asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.

Yes, these are dark times and, don't let anyone tell you that the threats aren't colossal. While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins. We have to stay vigilant, and seriously take care of ourselves and each other. Activist burnout is a real thing. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Give thanks for all the others-- known and unknown-- who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. This weekend Blue America has put up a new ActBlue page dedicated to members of the Senate and the House who have been most forceful and effective in their resistance to Trumpism— from Luis Gutierrez, who started the move to boycott the inauguration, something that almost 80 Members of Congress did—- to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu and Jerry Nadler challenging Trump's and the GOP's attempts to push their disastrous agendas in Congress. If we've missed anyone, please let us know.



Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


A few years ago Blue America's list of endorsed candidates had the biggest success rate of any PAC recruiting and endorsing candidates. We beat NARAL, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign and the League of Conservation Voters that year-- not to mention the NRA and Club for Growth. I laughed when I read the stats. Blue America isn't about picking candidates who will make the PAC look good. Blue America is about endorsing and working with the candidates-- like unlikely winners Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren-- who will fight for the legitimate aspirations of working families.

Last year, for example, we worked hard to elect Eloise Reyes to Congress in the Inland Empire. The DCCC had their own candidate, corrupt conservative Pete Aguilar. Aguilar won-- and promptly joined the New Dems and ran up one of the worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress. ProgressivePunch-- whose CEO argued with me when I told him how terrible Aguilar would be before the election-- gave him an "F" this year and, according to their algorithm, shows his crucial vote score for his one term to be less progressive than all but 10 Democrats, 2 of whom (reactionary Blue Dogs Gwen Graham and Brad Ashford) are leaving Congress in January.

Meanwhile, Eloise took stock of her loss, learned the appropriate lessons from it and one week ago absolutely clobbered one of the most corrupt conservative Democrats in the California state legislature, Chevron Cheryl Brown, beating her decisively and spectacularly catapulting herself into a position where she can do a lot of good for the working families she represents (who Brown had ignored). We count that as a big Blue America win, even though it isn't something you'll read about in the Washington Post or NY Times or hear about on MSNBC.

Eventually, all the progressive groups came around and endorsed state Senator Pramila Jayapal for an open seat in Seattle and we all worked to raise her the money she would need to win a tough primary and then the general election. Blue America was the first to endorse, and encourage her compelling leadership style, and emphasize it to other national progressives, some of whom whined about how it was "unfair" to take sides because the other candidates were good too. Last week Pramila made history, as the first America with South Asian roots to win a congressional seat.

When Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor and environmental activist, decided to take on the entire stinking California Democratic Party establishment by challenging their handpicked conservaDem candidate to fill a deep blue seat in one of Los Angeles' poorest congressional districts, Digby, John and I invited her to dinner, got to know her and Blue America became one of the first national PACs to endorse her and help make her case and raise her the money she needed to beat the "impossible" odds she faced in beating the establishment-- impossible odds she overcame to win a jaw-dropping victory last week.

Blue America didn't look for candidates who were likely to win; we looked for candidates who had a reasonable chance to win-- with help-- but who would likely be great legislators. We look forward to seeing Ruben Kihuen (NV), Jamie Raskin (MD), Carol Shea-Porter (NH)-- along with Nanette-- and possibly Doug Applegate (ballots in his tight race against arch-villain Darrell Issa are still being counted today) take eventual leadership roles in a House Democratic minority that sorely lacks cohesive and inspiring leaders.

And this was a good year for Blue America in terms of helping build a progressive, activist Democratic bench on the state legislative level. Aside from Eloise, we helped elect Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Mike Connolly, both of whom beat powerful, entrenched corrupt Democrats to win seats, respectively in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Stanley Chang-- like Eloise, a 2014 Blue America congressional candidate-- came roaring back this year and beat the last remaining Republican in the Hawaii Senate-- and in the reddest district in Hawaii! Justin Bamberg, our Berniecrat candidate in South Carolina, was reelected and Wenona Benally, another 2014 congressional candidate, introduced to us by Raul Grijalva, won a hard-fought Arizona congressional seat last week. And our Berniecrat legislator in Colorado, Joe Salazar, not only won his state House seat but was already leading the Denver mass anti-Trump protests this weekend.

But before we say thanks for helping make this possible with your generous contributions, I want to point to one more victory-- an old one. When Sheldon Adelson suddenly struck in 2014 in the open CA-33 seat, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a last minute sneak attack, then-candidate Ted Lieu went to Steve Israel at the DCCC for help in responding. Israel flat out refused-- not one dime, not one nickel to answer Adelson's half million dollar SuperPAC. So Blue America did it instead. Ted won, was elected congressional freshman class president, has been one of the most outspoken and successful bipartisan advocates on a series of crucial issues, from cyber-security to peace and climate change, and this weekend was in the news again, standing up against Trump’s "crazy shit", urging concerned Americans to follow him in becoming a supporter of the ACLU, while other congressional Democrats just cower in fear or plot personal career advancement. Ted Lieu-- one of Blue America's best ever investments!

So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank the mind-boggling generosity of the Blue America members who gave-- and then gave again and again-- and helped progressive champions get into office where they are needed more than ever. And, fyi, right now we're busier than ever recruiting progressive candidates to run for what could be a really good 2018 cycle.



We CAN Have A Better Congress-- And We Need To

Click the image to view Marianne Williamson previewing our Free Progressive Summit.

If yesterday's results are indicative of what it expect in November, it looks like Americans will be, once again, asked to choose between 2 really awful nominees... another less-of-two-evils election that is sure to turn off millions of Americans and hold down voter turnout. Who the hell-- other than what Trumpf calls his beloved "poorly educated"-- voters wants to be culpable for the kind of endemic corruption that would be at the heart of either a Trumpf or a Clinton Administration? Is he so much more than she is? Sure. She's the lesser of two evils, evil, but the lesser evil. Does that inspire you?

If you've been participating in the candidates progressive summit at SisterGiant.com, you've had a chance to meet candidates for the House and Senate who are not the lesser of two evils by any stretch of the imagination. Blue America and Marianne Williamson's organization have put together an on-going forum in which participants meet the stalwart progressive public servants.

Tuesday there were live interviews with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-MD), a state legislator with a record of accomplishment and a vision for America going forward; and Mayor John Fetterman, the alternative candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Before that-- and still archived, of course-- were sessions with Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin-- whose video below I highly recommend-- Tim Canova, the intrepid and courageous progressive in South Florida taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the embodiment of the heart of darkness; Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor who took on Bill Oil and beat them and is now taking on the whole corrupt Democratic Establishment in Sacramento to keep a South Bay L.A. congressional seat out of the hands of the toxic special interests; Mayor Bao Nguyen, who, when elected from his Orange County district, will likely be the most progressive Member of Congress since 1950, when Vito Marcantonio left Congress; Washington state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, who has learned how to successfully build consensus around progressive values even in a legislature controlled by Republicans; Madison-based Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), the member of Congress with the strongest voting record of all; Alex Law, a millennial candidate willing to take on South Jersey's venal and corrupt Norcross Machine; DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature going up against entrenched neocon and Republican Peter King on Long Island; and fiery and dedicated Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), who has put his foot down against Wall Street's attempt to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate with another of their puppets.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.32.00 PM.pngClick image to see Jamie Raskin's great new video.

Last night in session 5, Marianne presented 3 progressive challengers to 3 Republican incumbents: Tom Fiegan, who is taking on Iowa obstructionist Chuck Grassely, the Senator and haughty Judiciary Committee chairman who has declared that there will be no hearings for whomever President Obama nominates for the empty Supreme Court seat; Paul Clements, an environmental activist taking on multimillionaire scion of a Michigan family that enriched itself by moving tens of thousands of jobs to Mexico and China, Fred Upton; and Angela Marx, a Washington state grassroots activist challenging GOP tool Jaime Herrera Buetler.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.37.42 AM.pngWasserman Schultz and Murphy-- you don't get any worse than this.

If you don't vote in primaries, and “off years” you wind up with corrupt faux-Democrats like Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, two "New Dems" who are sponsoring a bill with the Republicans on behalf of the pay day lenders that would further debilitate Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Zach Carter reported yesterday that "as the CFPB has moved closer to adopting new rules to shield families from predatory lending, the GOP has assailed the agency from every conceivable angle-- going after it's budget, attempting to tie its hands with new layers of red tape, fomenting conspiracy theories about rogue regulators illegally shutting down businesses and launching direct attacks on payday loan rules themselves." Now they have a handful of on-the-take, Wall Street Democrats-- Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Alcee Hastings (FL), David Scott (Blue Dog-GA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and Lois Frankel (FL)-- working with them against protecting the public.

Wassermann Schultz's support for the right-wing Republican position, he points out, "undercuts efforts by liberals in Congress to draw contrasts with Republicans on economic issues." That's the special role Wasserman Schultz and, even more so, Patrick Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema always take on. Wassermann Schultz has been walking around the floor of the House trying to sweet talk other Democrats onto signing on, lying to them about a bill she helped write when she was in the Florida state legislature for which she has been handsomely paid off by the pay day lending industry, calling her bill a "model" for the industry. Every single consumer group has lined up against Wasserman Schultz's attempt to derail the CFPB's work in this area, especially consumer groups that seek to protect the minority communities the Republicans, Wasserman Schultz and Murphy are targeting as easy rip-off victims.

The Consumer Federation of America, the NAACP, The National Consumer Law Center, The National Council of La Raza, The Southern Poverty Law Center and hundreds of others wrote a letter to every member of Congress in December urging them to oppose the legislation.

"The problem here is that Florida's law is a sham," says Gynnie Robnett, director of the Campaign to Stop the Debt Trap at Americans for Financial Reform. "It was backed by the industry."

And by "the industry," they're including the crooked Members of Congress-- Republicans and rogue Democrats like Wasserman Schultz and Murphy-- who sell their services to the pay day lenders. Democrats have an opportunity to replace these corrupt conservative Democrats in primaries. Wassermann Schultz's opponent this cycle is Tim Canova and Murphy's is the indomitable Alan Grayson, both of whom are part of the Progressive Summit we talked about up top.

By the way, Congress writes the laws to explicitly exclude their own behavior from prosecution as bribery... even when the quid pro quo is as blatant as Wasserman Schultz's is-- not that she isn't completely typical of all the corrupt conservatives in Congress. Happy payday lenders have given her $68,000 in legalistic bribes since 2006, including $5,100 so far in 2016. She belongs in prison, not in Congress. Last night most Republican primary voters gave a big middle finger to their party's corrupt establishment. Last night most Democratic primary voters gave a big wet kiss to their party's corrupt establishment.

This is exactly the kind of issue that incenses Canova, who emphasized to Democrats in Broward County that "loan sharks should feel right at home in the party of Donald Trump, but con artists should have no place in the Democratic Party. Yesterday, he told his supporters that "predatory payday lenders stepped in to profit during the financial crisis. They targeted poor communities-- and people without access to credit from banks-- by offering them short-term loans at sky high interest rates. On an annual basis, these companies charge late fees and rates as high as 300 to 400% and many companies have even charged up 1,900% interest on loans, which is obscene. Worse, they target people-- particularly people of color-- who are unable to pay the loan back. If they fall behind, they are offered another payday loan to help cover the cost of the prior payday loan, with fees and percentages get higher and higher, trapping them in an process that never ends.

dark.pngClick the thermometer to help elect the Progressive Congress we need and deserve.
I have pushed for regulation of payday loan companies my entire career as a law professor and political activist. I worked with Senator Bernie Sanders and his staff on provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, and I was heartened when Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to do just that-- to provide some basic minimum standards in payday loans to prevent the poorest and most vulnerable among us from getting ripped off and trapped in a downward cycle of debt. This is a reform that has been championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and supported by President Obama. So why, then, is my opponent-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- introducing legislation in Congress to deregulate an industry that is already profiting from ripping off millions of Americans? Why is she fighting against Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, who are attempting to protect our neighbors from the worst abuses by payday lenders? The answer is simple: Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been taking millions of dollars from the same corporate interests that profit from payday loans. She recently reversed President Obama’s long-standing ban on corporate lobbyist donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), opening the door to influence peddling by the payday loan industry. Not only is Wasserman Schultz carrying water for an industry that is actively defrauding poor communities out of millions of dollars-- one company recently was forced to give $19 million dollars back to customers in illegal overcharge payments-- but she is actively convincing Democrats in Congress to do so as well. Which party does she lead again?

Today (Thursday) Marianne will sit down for sessions with Lou Vince (CA-25), Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Diana Hird (NY-18), each of whom is being opposed by the DCCC and the DC Establishment Democrats— and each of whom has to fight off a challenge from a Republican-lite fake Democrat before going to battle against the real Republican. Please check out all the sessions here and please consider contributing to the candidates who most appeal to you here.

And, one more thing... in Ohio, the Democratic Establishment has a tired old conservative candidate, Ted Strickland, running against progressive Cincinnati Councilman PG Sittenfeld. The winner of their March 15 primary gets to take on right-wing Republican and Trumpf-defender Rob Portman. Sittenfeld can beat him; Strickland will get slaughtered. Since Strickland is too scared to publicly debate, please watch the video below at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Editorial Board endorsement interview. (This week the Plain Dealer endorsed Sittenfeld, pointing out that his "dynamism would give Portman a real race, the kind Ohio voters deserve.")



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

All my best,

Marianne



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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




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