WE CAN Stop Fast Track (Action Alert)

In recent days, you've probably heard the barrage of lies Wall Street's Chuck Schumer has manufactured in his vicious and bitter campaign against Alan Grayson's run for the open Florida Senate seat. Grayson is basically ignoring Schumer and the DSCC and going about his work on behalf of his Florida constituents. He has, for example, been leading the battle in the House to stop TPP Fast Track Authority. And Sunday, he sent a pretty bold letter to his supporters on behalf of that battle:

Under the First Amendment, you have the right to petition your government to redress your grievances.

Now would be a good time to do that. Today.

According to public reports, the 18 Democratic Members of Congress listed below are leaning in favor of voting for "Fast Track," legislation that would prevent Congress from debating or amending whatever the Executive Branch calls a "trade bill." As a public service, we provide you their office phone numbers.

Rep. Ami Bera (New Dem-CA) - (202) 225-5716
Rep. Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA) - (202)225-3341
Rep. Jared Polis (New Dem-CO) - (202) 225-2161
Rep. Mike Quigley (New Dem-IL) - (202) 225-4061
Rep. John Delaney (New Dem-MD) - (202) 225-2721
Rep. Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE) - (202) 225-4155
Rep. Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY) - (202) 225-3461
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR) - (202) 225-4811
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.) - (202) 225-0855
Rep. Kurt Schrader (New Dem-OR) - (202) 225-5711
Rep. Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN) - (202) 225-4311
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) - (202) 225-1640
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX) - (202) 225-8885
Rep. Don Beyer (New Dem-VA) - (202) 225-4376
Rep. Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA) - (202) 225-1492
Rep. Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA) - (202) 225-2605
Rep. Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA) - (202) 225-5916
Rep. Ron Kind (New Dem-WI) - (202) 225-5506

Call one; call them all. Call as many as you want. Exercise your constitutional right to redress your grievances. Make them listen. (By the way, the system is rigged so that you can't send them an e-mail unless you are a constituent. So you have to call.)

Here are some things that you might explain to them about this bad bill:
(1) Our trade debt stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That's more than $35,000 for every human being in America-- including you. "Fast Track" would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?

(2) Fast Track applies to whatever the Executive Branch calls a trade agreement, even if it has nothing to do with trade.

(3) Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments-- basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.

(4) No other bills get this special treatment-- not bills on taxes, or Social Security, or defense, or transportation, or healthcare. Nothing.

(5) Fast Track applies to trade bills that the Executive Branch hasn't even released to the public.

(6) None of the "standards" that Fast Track sets for trade agreements is enforceable-- not one single standard.
Alternatively, you can just say that you're tired of Middle Class America getting hosed.

But whatever else you say, make sure you say this: NO on Fast Track!

Blue America has a list of incumbents who are fighting for progressives values along with Grayson. Wall Street would like to defeat every one of them and several are already under attack from Wall Street Republicans and/or from Wall Street Democrats. Take a look at the list and please consider encouraging their fight against Fast Track with a contribution to their reelection campaigns.

Today We're Thankful For... Alan Grayson

We're going to do something a little different today here at DownWithTyranny. In honor of Thanksgiving we're going to dedicate the entire day to explaining why we're thankful to one candidate for Congress, Alan Grayson. Last week, Blue America sponsored an intimate, free-ranging chat with Alan and we've cut it up into bite-sized pieces. All during the day we'll be posting short clips from that chat. Hopefully, at least one will encourage and animate you to contribute to Alan's campaign on our Blue America ActBlue page. Last time Allen ran Blue America raised over $100,000 for him, and the average contribution was around $43. There were lots of $5 and $10 contributions as well. They all add up. Right-wing front groups-- many funded by the Koch brothers-- poured more cash into attack ads against Allen than any other Member of Congress. They hate him; and he doesn't run from their hatred.

I'd like to start with a short clip where Alan neatly defines his politics and explains in 3 words why he's running for Congress and what his governing philosophy is. I found this very powerful when he said it. What do you think?

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.

Heart and Soul: Marcy Winograd!

I'm in Marcy's district and many of you know that I was asked to run against Jane Harman, but I knew it was Marcy's time and I'm so happy for her.

So far I've been contacted on the phone and at my door by Marcy's campaign and they were very nice and very thorough, but I haven't heard a word from any of Harman's people. Not even a mailer. I guess voters in her district aren't that important unless they give big donations.

The LA Times ran a great article on her campaign.

The candidate, trailed by a volunteer, is knocking on doors in Mar Vista — down Beethoven Street, across Lucille Avenue, along Greenwood Avenue and on. The June 8 election is just weeks away. There is much ground to cover.

"I'm Marcy Winograd, and I'm running for Congress," she says, over and over again. Her blue jacket is spotted with rain. "I'm a grass-roots Democrat who believes in jobs and bringing our troops home."

Winograd is challenging Rep. Jane Harman, a wealthy eight-term incumbent, in the Democratic primary for the 36th Congressional District. Her Marina del Rey campaign headquarters buzzes with activity. Volunteers man phones. Tables are stacked with slick mailers exhorting voters to "imagine sending a teacher, anti-war leader, and healthcare champion to Washington to be your voice in Congress."

Though it is unusual for a sitting member of Congress to face a robust primary challenge, Winograd has taken on Harman before; she ran against her on an antiwar platform in 2006 and won nearly 38% of the vote.

Allan Hoffenblum, whose California Target Book handicaps races in the Golden State, calls the contest "an ideological battle for the soul of the Democratic Party" — a liberal challenger taking on a more conservative incumbent.

"If it was an open seat, she very well could be a real contender," Hoffenblum said. "But against a well-known, well-funded incumbent, it would be a real shocker" if Winograd won. "It's not the suburbs of San Francisco." Still, Winograd is forcing Harman to work "a bit more than she might like to be working on her reelection," said political scientist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at USC. "It would be nice if [Harman] could just hang out in Washington….But she's been around. If someone can move an incumbent to do that, that's OK."

The election is June 8th, so if you're in our district please make the right choice. On January 16, Blue America formally endorsed her, and she joined us for a live chat on C&L. We produced this ad for her too:

And what Digby says:

Blue America endorsed Winograd months ago because we are all about waging an ideological battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. (It's a war that never ends, by the way.) And Winograd in Congress would be a true leader in that cause.

If you'd like to help Marcy you can donate here or volunteer for her grassroots campaign.

Howie Klein gives a good rundown on all the props that are on the ballot too if you're interested and praises our Marcy.

If you live in the 36th congressional district-- a stretch along the coast that starts up in Venice and heads south to San Pedro, taking in Mar Vista, El Segundo, Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne, West Carson, Redondo Beach, Marina Del Ray and Hermosa Beach-- you have an opportunity to vote in one of the most iconic elections of the year, pitting a conservative longtime incumbent serving corporate interests (the odious Blue Dog Jane Harman) against a scrappy and highly principled progressive tribune of ordinary working families, Marcy Winograd. Marcy was Blue America's first endorsement of 2010.

When moderate Democrat Vic Snyder decided to retire from Congress, half a dozen Democrats jumped into a race that was sure to pit one of them against crooked Karl Rove protégé Tim Griffin, the sleaziest of the corrupt U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by Bush to turn the Justice Department into a punitive arm of the Republican Party.

In the end there was a formidable group of Democrats in the race to replace Synder, including his chief of staff, David Boling; the Senate Majority Leader, Joyce Elliott; and the House Speaker, Robbie Wills. Wills, who hails from Conway in Faulkner County north of Little Rock, is way on the right-wing fringes of the Democratic Party, a corporate hack who opposed health-care reform, tailor-made for the Blue Dog caucus Snyder never joined.

Meanwhile, Joyce Elliott has been a tireless and well-respected advocate for ordinary working families as a member of the Arkansas House (2000-2006) and then as a member of the state Senate. She came out on top in the primary last week, despite being outspent by both Boling and Wills and despite the never-ending din of "conventional wisdom" that an African-American woman could never win federal office in Arkansas. In the five-way race, she drew 39.7% of the vote to Wills' 27.8% and Boling's 19%, the other candidates in the single digits. Closet racists in central Arkansas currently have a mantra: "She can't win against Griffin so we have to support Wills" (who will vote like Griffin but at least wears a blue jersey).

Boling has endorsed Joyce, and Wills is scurrying around to find bit players to counter that devastating blow to his candidacy. Joyce was also enthusiastically endorsed by Blue Arkansas, which urges its readers to help her make history:

State Senator Joyce Elliott has been a progressive leader and champion in the state legislature long before Blue Arkansas was ever around to back her up. Now she’s running to represent the people of AR-02 in Congress. No matter what position she has taken or how hard the fight was, Senator Elliott has always lead with courage, intelligence, grace, and character. She is the best choice to succeed Vic Snyder and represent AR-02 in these tough times, and we will stand with her every step of the way, no matter how tough the fight is.

Today, Blue America also endorses Joyce, who will join us for a live blog session below in the comments section. I hope you can stop by to meet her and ask her the kinds of questions you think candidates for Congress need to address. Last week when I was on the phone congratulating her for her convincing win in the first round I asked her a tough one -- how she would have voted on October 3, 2008, when Bush was pushing his Wall Street bailout. I like the way she approached it:

Though I am an unabashed optimist, I am grounded in reality. The Wall Street debacle forced a clash between my worlds of reality and optimism. The indefensibility of the Wall Street debacle rendered this confluence particularly disturbing when taxpayers became “forced” partners to the bailout. While I accept it was better to pull our country back from the brink of economic disaster than to let the entire system crash, I find it wholly unacceptable that transparent, stringent accountability was not a part of the equation. Handing over the Taxpayers of America credit card to “too-big-to-fail” institutions with no strings attached or with strings so loose they were totally uninhibiting was bad policy. The gravity of the economic situation was threatening, I am sure; nevertheless, it is the responsibility of Congress to conduct business in a manner that is accountable to taxpayers who pay this country’s bills, even in under great pressure. While I won’t bog myself down in hindsight, I will use hindsight going forward to make sure I never cast a vote such as the “bail out” without holding institutions and/or individuals accountable.

Please consider making a contribution to Joyce's campaign today. In fact if you do so at the Blue America ActBlue page before midnight tonight, we'll enter you in a drawing for a rare, numbered, collectible and very beautiful print of Patti Smith, one of only six that were made. This one was signed by both Richard Aaron, the photographer, and by Patti Smith herself, who wrote on it, next to her signature, "People have the power." Joyce reminds me of Patti, which is why I dug it out and decided to give it away today.

Tomorrow, we're having a special live chat that I'm sure you'll all enjoy. We've found someone to take on John Boehner. Yes, the man who was passing out tobacco checks on the floor of Congress.


On Thursday afternoon, Blue America will be hosting a special session with our newest endorsee, Justin Coussoule at Crooks and Liars (4pm, ET/1pm, PT). I hope you'll join us and get to know Justin during the live blog session.


[More of the same-- Heck and Baird, Inc.]

Brian Baird was one of the 39 disgruntled rogue Democrats who voted against health-care reform last November, along with a gaggle of mostly reactionary Blue Dogs-- from John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD) to Parker Griffith (Blue Dog, now R-AL) and Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC). Baird was the only Washington Democrat to cross the aisle and join John Boehner and Eric Cantor in trying to defeat healthcare reform.

State Senator Craig Pridemore, the Blue America-endorsed candidate for Baird's House seat isn't challenging Baird to a primary battle. Thankfully Baird is retiring from politics-- although not before endorsing a multimillionaire corporate lackey to take his place, Denny Heck. All the lobbyists, special interests and business-as-usual shills are backing Heck. Democratic grassroots and netroots activists in WA-03 are what's propelling Craig's campaign.

The video below explains Blue America's enthusiasm for Craig a lot better than I could in a few hyperbolic words. Please take a look at it as he explains why he supports a clearly flawed healthcare reform bill and how clearly he sees how corporate money is behind almost everything that's wrong Inisde-the-Beltway.

“As I’ve traveled around Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, one of the things that’s clear is that our citizens and our businesses are hurting. We need to step up and help our small businesses and workers succeed by implementing reforms to reduce their health care costs. The problem right now is that we have a health care system dominated by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street.

“I believe we deserve a public option. It is essential that we encourage competition in the health care market place, and the only way to do that is to hold the special interests in Washington, D.C. accountable to the struggling families across our nation. I also know that the bill before us means progress. It will provide coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and end the inhumane practice of cutting off those with pre-existing conditions.

“What’s clear is that my opponent, Denny Heck, is standing on the sidelines when it comes to this issue. He wants to wait it out, see what happens, and then decide where he stands. Make no mistake, I support health care reform and I support a public option and when elected, will step up and do everything I can to lower costs and check the power of the special interests in Washington, D.C.”

What hacks like Baird and Heck don't want to understand is that less privileged, more exposed families than their own, right in southwest Washington very much need the reforms offered in the health-care bill neither of them is supporting. Yesterday the House Energy and Commerce Committee put out a report that shows how the bill would impact Baird's constituents:

Continue reading »

Special Blue America PAC Live Blogging Event Saturday 10am PST/1PM EST with Marcy Winograd

On Saturday we'll have a special live blogging hour with LA's own Marcy Winograd. Blue America has a special announcement at the same time so please join us.

I've been thinking about running against Jane Harman for a long time. I've had reporters quiz me on it and many readers ask me to run, but I've decided not take part in 2010's Congressional election in my home district of CA-36.

There a few reasons why I've taken this path. I think I can do more good for my country and the state of California by concentrating on CrooksandLiars in these troubling times and continue my work for Blue America PAC as the 2010 election comes upon us.

David Neiwert, C&L's Managing Editor and I are putting the finishing touches on our new book we have just about finished titled Over the Cliff, which will require time to promote it, but there is also another important reason which made it so much easier for me to drop out of consideration for the upcoming election: The fact is we have a great progressive candidate already in the race and her name is Marcy Winograd.

She's taking the fight once again to the Blue Dog in our district and I'm putting my full support behind her campaign as she moves forward in 2010. Marcy stands for progressives and since she lives in a progressive district, I'm confident she will fight in ongress for those principles and represent her constituents without compromising as we've seen Jane Harman do so many times before. So please join me in supporting Marcy Winograd for California's 36th District.

Please donate if you can.

And we'll see you tomorrow.

Blanche Lincoln seems confused, but Blue America's new ad is here to help her

Mike Stark catches up with Blanche Lincoln in Congress and asks her if she'll join the Republican filibuster. She has been virtually silent throughout the whole health care debate and Mike does a great job of getting her to say something on the record. What she said of course was nothing.

Stark: Can you see yourself filibustering or joining a filibuster?

Lincoln: I don't even know what the bill is going to be and I'm going to do what I think is most important for Arkansans and that is to look at the bill, to see if it's going to be helpful to Arkansans and the country in expanding health care...

She knows what's going on in this debate and gives a typical non-answer about supporting the public option like many have given up to this point. We at Blue America are running a brand new ad all over her state starting today so we can help her decide that filibustering health care is not in any one's best interests except the health insurance corporations that she's taken huge contributions from.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes:

The squeeze is on for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) on health care in the form of a new series of ads paid for by the liberal Blue America PAC that cast the Arkansas Democrat as bought and paid for by insurers. "Blanche Lincoln claims to fight for health care reform but whose interests does she really represent," asks the ad's narrator before noting that Lincoln has taken more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the health and insurance industries. The narrator concludes the ad by asking viewers to call Lincoln and "demand she allow an up or down vote on the public option." (This is the fourth ad paid for by Blue America targeting Lincoln this year.)

Polling shows Lincoln, who is up for re-election in 2010, holding relatively slim margins over a series of unknown Republican candidates. Lincoln's dilemma? How to walk the line between the conservative leanings of the Razorback State -- Obama took just 39 percent there in 2009 -- and the increasingly vocal and well-funded left within her own party who see the inclusion of a public option as a sine qua non for health care reform.

Her primary is the reason we targeted her originally and it's worked out very well so far.

Please help us continue running this ad and many more to come and join in on Blue America's Campaign for Health Care Choice. Donations are much appreciated.

And Digby writes:

Perhaps Lincoln should start worrying just a bit about what will happen if her Democratic base stays home. The numbers aren't looking all that good for her right now.

She's between little rock and a hard place but it seems to me that's easily solved at this point. She should vote for cloture, thus appeasing her base and then she can vote against the bill if she needs to appeal to neanderthals who want people to die quickly.

Believe me, none of her constituents will hold it against her. Most people think cloture is unpasteurized sour cream. And they like it.

Republicans target Alan Grayson (D-FL) for his strong progressive voice

It's no coincidence that Republicans are going all out to target first term Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson. Grayson's defeat of entrenched rubber stamp incumbent Ric Keller last year was one of Blue America's most important victories ever. Since entering the House in January Rep. Grayson has made a name for himself standing up for working families and flying right in the face of the powerful banksters who have financed the deregulatory mania Grayson aims to fix.

He's fearless and his tough, aggressive questioning of banksters at the House Financial Services Committee, frightens bribe-besotted Republicans and their crooked patrons. He didn't seen intimidated by Republican efforts to recruit a top tier candidate to run against him. Doesn't this sound exactly like Grayson?

"Any Republican in my district who wants to see what it's like to run for Congress and lose is welcome to do so. But whoever it is, the DCCC will leave welts on his back."

More about Grayson and about how much bluer this district has become at DownWithTyranny. And if you'd like to help us get Grayson's back -- here's the place.

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