Barbara Lee's First Endorsement… And The Beatles

Barbara Lee made history when she displayed the guts to stand up and say "NO" to Bush/Cheney's rush to war against Afghanistan in the wake of the 9-11 attack that embarrassed them and exposed their incompetence. She was the only Member of Congress to do so. Today Rep. Lee announced that her Barbara Lee Progressive PAC's top 8 priorities for congressional action starts with "Bringing an end to perpetual war, saving trillions of dollars and millions of lives." And in conjunction with that announcement comes another-- her first endorsement of a challenger for the 2014 cycle, fellow Californian and fellow peace advocate, Lee Rogers. 

"Lee," she said, "is a doctor, a thinker, a progressive Democrat-- and, he can win.

He’s running in California’s 25th Congressional District (Simi Valley-Santa Clarita area). It’s an open seat. And, the Nate Silver number crunchers say that it’s a district where Democrats can win. So help us put a progressive like Lee Rogers in it. She send this message out to her own followers today:

Want to know just how much of an ally Lee Rogers will be in Congress? Consider his philosophical approach from his website:

"Congressional insiders and K Street power brokers sold the well-being of our country in exchange for special deals and political favors.

"All this must stop. It must stop NOW! No more deals, no more special favors, no more double talk and political speak. It’s time to level with the voters, tell them the truth and get to the job of fixing the problems and restoring the promise of America."
This is the kind of fighting Democrat I need working beside progressives like Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Alan Grayson and me in the House. I’m contributing to Lee. And, I hope you will too.

For his part, Dr. Rogers said he is proud of the backing his campaign is getting from the California powerhouse. "I'm honored to be endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, someone who is always on the right side of the moral issues of the day. As a doctor, I must use the highest standard of ethics when treating patients. I'll make sure to bring those same ethics to Washington. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Lee to improve the lives of those in my district and our country."

This week Blue America is encouraging progressives to contribute to Barbara Lee's and Lee Rogers' campaigns by offering one randomly selected donor who gives on this page (any amount) a rare, signed Beatles portrait by the band's favorite photographer, Robert Freeman, who shot 5 album covers for them starting in 1963.

The iconic image on the cover of With The Beatles, personally signed by Freeman, is the one we are giving away this week. The image is 32" x 24" and perfect for framing.

It doesn't matter how much you give, just that you do give to Barbara and Lee on this page.



Blue America Welcomes Eric Massa For A Talk On Afghanistan

Last night two of the blogosphere's brightest lights posted on the difficulties Obama is facing when it comes to turning around U.S. Afghanistan policy. Digby, who recounted a 1964 conversation between McGeorge Bundy and President Lyndon Johnson about the futility of American policies in Vietnam, seemed aghast that "Democratic strategist" Donna Brazile was on CNN yesterday seemingly reading some leftover talking points from Karen Hughes about the need to stay in Afghanistan and "get the job done." Then last night Daily Kos' most prescient Afghanistan blogger, Meteor Blades, highlighted the controversy over Andrea Mitchell's report on the 500,000 troops needed to do the job in Afghanistan.

But as Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), our No Means No guest today, asked me this morning, "What is the job?"

Blue America's friendship with Eric Massa goes back to the very beginning of our PAC and he was one of the first candidates we ever supported. Ultimately it was his character that moved us to endorse him, although his championing of issues impacting the real lives of working families (like "fair trade" over so-called "free trade"), his dogged support of single-payer health care, and his spot-on analysis of the war in Iraq based on experience as a Naval officer are what first drew us to him. He came close in 2006 and he triumphed in 2008-- in one of the only districts in New York that Obama didn't win! Obama tool 48% in NY-29 while Massa scooped up 51% against a multimillionaire incumbent and Bush tool.

In June, Eric was one of only 32 Democrats to vote against the supplemental war budget -- of the 90 who had pledged to vote no. It was an incredibly courageous political act, particularly in a district with a daunting R+5.48 PVI (one of the most Republican districts in the country represented by a progressive Democrat). This morning Eric told me in no uncertain terms that he would "continue to vote against any supplemental."

We're not going to fund any wars in a way that no one knows about. The Republicans gave the wealthiest Americans the largest tax cut in history and then launched two wars without any idea of how to pay for them. It was the most fiscally irresponsible action they could take-- and they took it.

Eric is fired up and full of fight, as always. He loves his job and told me he's absolutely committed to it. "I'm in the right place in my life doing the right job for the right congressional district. And I'm just getting started." Right now, you hear the lifelong military man in him when he says he's very supportive of what he calls "the president's strategic pause to formulate whatever strategy his administration will implement (in Afghanistan)."

For instance, is this about fighting the Taliban or fighting al-Qaeda -- two distinctly different groups -- or is it about creating a democracy, or is it about protecting the Afghan people? These are very different missions that require very different resources. And until we know what we're doing, we cannot begin to get it done. The first thing a military officer asks is 'What is the mission?' And as of right now, that is a very legitimate question."

As progressives and men and women of common sense, we should demand a strategy that turns the destiny of Afghanistan over to the Afghans so we can get out of there as soon as possible. If the condition of our departure is creating a Jeffersonian democracy, then we are on a fool's errand.

Eric is joining us now (in the comments section) as part of our ongoing series on Afghanistan policy at Crooks and Liars. As MoveOn mentioned in the mailing this morning, "U.S. policy in Afghanistan has reached a pivotal moment. President Obama is poised to make a critical decision about the Afghanistan war in the next few weeks. And there's a big debate happening right now about what to do. Pro-war advocates both inside and outside the administration -- including John McCain and Joe Lieberman -- are calling for a big escalation. The general in charge of Afghanistan is expected to request tens of thousands more troops, and that may just be the beginning. They're cranking up the pressure for an immediate surge."

Eric Massa is in a unique position to help us figure out a progressive strategy for dealing with this dilemma. He's adamant that if the President asks for more funds for the war, he do it through a normal budgetary process that includes a "clearly articulated strategy with an end game. The Republicans say they're all about fiscal responsibility? Then they should agree we should apply those concepts to wars."

Please take a look at Blue America's No Means No! page and consider donating to Eric and any or all of the 32 other Democrats who have already done the right thing by voting no on the supplemental budget 3 months ago and who we will be counting on to help end the occupation of Afghanistan in the coming months.



Blue America Welcomes Alan Grayson For A Discussion Of American Policy In Afghanistan

Alan Grayson has been a big Blue America fave ever since we first met up with him in January, 2008. He was our first endorsement that year and one of our most celebrated victories, having beaten an entrenched, useless incumbent in a traditionally Republican district in central Florida. Since being elected, Alan has been a progressive leader, primarily in financial regulations through his committee position on House Financial Services. But he also was one of 32 Democrats in the House who stood up to demands from the Obama Administration that a supplemental war budget be approved last June.

It was a ballsy move, especially for Democrats in Republican-leaning districts, like Alan, Eric Massa and Carol Shea-Porter. I doubt Alan ever wavered from his commitment to the voters in his district to not approve any more supplemental budgets. But you can ask him yourself when he joins us for a live blogging session here at C&L, 3pm PT (6pm back East). Alan will be helping us launch a new Blue America Initiative to help draw attention to the situation in Afghanistan and figure out what progressives can do to effect change.

Alan is prepared to work even harder this year to head off an escalation of war in the 8th year of occupation of the country. "We are using a 19th century strategy to fight a 14th century opponent, " he told me yesterday. "Does anyone seriously believe that the best way to defend our borders is to send a quarter of a million Americans 10,000 miles beyond them?" He also told me he thinks we can change Obama's mind and turn this thing around. "He's too smart," said the congressman, "to let someone else's war ruin his presidency."

And with Republican Tim Johnson of Illinois promising to introduce legislation to withdraw American troops, an idea that some other Republicans, like Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX) seem to be embracing, Alan is ready to work across the aisle -- as he has been doing with his crusade to force an audit on the Federal Reserve -- and help focus more Democrats and more Republicans on what he calls "the senselessness of war without end."

If you haven't visited it yet, today is launch-day for Blue America's new ActBlue page, No Means No!. We're asking anyone who can afford to, to contribute-- even if it's just a few dollars-- to the Democrats who have already shown their willingness to draw a line in the sand and not break their pledge. Today, everyone who donates-- regardless of how much-- will have their name put in a hat and 6 random winners will get the new book by New York Senate candidate Jonathan Tasini, The Audacity of Greed. Jonathan donated the books for this event and he autographed each one.

Meanwhile, please take a look at the first segment in the BraveNewFilms movie, Rethink Afghanistan, something that every member of Congress needs to see-- at least as much as the briefings from the Pentagon and spy agencies.



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...




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