Ted Lieu's New Bill To Prevent A Pres. Trump From Using Nukes

When Digby, John and I were first getting to know Ted Lieu, back when he was still a state Senator, we asked him why he was willing to leave the young family he's so devoted to in L.A. and spend so much time in Washington, D.C. He told us it actually had a lot to do with his two sons-- a compulsion to help turn Congress towards solving the accelerating problems around Climate Change. And, sure enough, last month when Ted was named the freshmen Democrats MVP, his unrelenting work-- with members on both sides of the aisle-- for climate change was first and foremost in everyone's mind. That and... cyber-security, equal rights, criminal justice and marijuana legalization. Yeah, he's been busy.

But last week, hot on the heels of his promotion to full colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Ted, along with two other freshmen military vets in the House sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. "As veterans who previously served on active duty," they wrote, "we are horrified by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slander of parents whose son died serving our country. Mr. Trump has already made a series of racist and sexist statements. But the profound disrespect Mr. Trump has shown toward Gold Star parents is a new low. Your continued endorsement of Mr. Trump's hateful, bigoted and sexist vision threatens the integrity of the House of Representatives in which we serve. We respectfully request that you follow what we believe your heart is telling you and withdraw your endorsement of him now."

Thursday, Ted announced he is introducing legislation to make it more difficult for a president to launch a nuclear attack.

“The erratic and impulsive behavior of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has highlighted the structural dangers of America’s nuclear weapons launch protocols. Having taught the Law of War when I served on active duty, and as a graduate of Air War College, it is clear to me that the traditional checks and balances on the Executive branch do not apply when it comes to nuclear weapons. This process needs to be fixed.

“The President does not need approval from Congress or the courts to launch nuclear weapons. All the President needs is the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, who is appointed by the President.

“When Congress comes back into session, I plan to introduce legislation that requires the concurrence of leaders in Congress-- who are not beholden to the President-- before a nuclear strike can be launched. We can no longer have the fate of civilization depend on just two people in the Executive Branch.”

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This week Blue America is helping Ted raise funds for his reelection campaign. As a thank you we are giving away 6 advance copies of the next book by neuroscientist Dan Levitin (author of the massive NY Times best seller, This Is Your Brain On Music.) Dan, a big admirer of Ted's, autographed half a dozen advance review copies ofA Field Guide To Lies-- Critical Thinking In The Information Age for half a dozen randomly selected contributors. There is no minimum contribution; everyone is equally likely to be picked to "win" one of the signed books.

Dr. Levitin told us Friday that: "My wife and I had dinner with Ted Lieu recently and it was one of the most fascinating conversations we’ve ever had. He has a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and shared many insights with us. He is exactly the kind of person we need to have in government: smart, empathetic, honest, and eager to devote his considerable talents to public service not for his own personal gain, but to help make the world a better place. He's committed to clearing the logjam that congress has become, using his intelligence and creativity to move forward policies and legislation that will benefit all of us."

Just contribute any amount by Tuesday evening at midnight at this Blue America ActBlue page to be eligible.



Blue America Billy Joel Contest: Tom Suozzi's in a NY-03 State of Mind

Many progressives were gratified to learn that corrupt Blue Dog Steve Israel would not be seeking reelection. Unfortunately, Israel is working to install one of his cronies, Steve Stern, in his seat. Fortunately, a far better known and respected former Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi, is running for the seat. Tom is known all through Long Island and New York as someone who is un-bought and un-bossed, a reformer who isn't interested in special interests, just the legitimate interests of the working families in his constituency. He's running on his record of achievements for the people of Long Island in a district that stretches from Kings Park in Suffolk County, through Huntington, Bethpage, Glen Cove and Great Neck in Nassau into the Whitestone and Beechhurst sections of Queens.

Israel pulled one of his ugly little tricks of having one of his lackeys challenge Tom's petition signatures but a judge ruled the challenges were without edit and threw them out. Meanwhile, Tom has spent his time meeting with voters in 15 townhall meetings in the 3 counties that make up the district and listening to what they want out of Washington and talking about his plans to help bring down the cost of higher education, protect Social Security and Medicare benefits and guarantee equal pay for equal work for women. His unofficial campaign motto is "More skills, more jobs, more wages."

On Friday, May 27, Tom is hosting an event at the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden. He's given Blue America two pairs of tickets and we're going to give them away to two random contributors who donate to his campaign on this page. Tom goes way back with Billy Joel, over twenty years to when he was first elected mayor of Glen Cove, having, like all Long Island kids, grown up on Joel's music.

The contest ends Wednesday, May 25 and we'll notify the winners on Thursday. And, yes, the tickets are transferable. So... if you live in Allentown or Vienna and can't make it to Manhattan next week you can give the tickets to a couple of friends in Jericho, Syosset or Hicksville.



What Would It Be Like To Have Your Own Personal Jesus in The Senate?


The Grayson for Senate campaign is getting close to having it's 100,000th contributor. The 100,000th contribution will happen in the next few days. And whoever that 100,000th person is, Blue America will be proud to award them a platinum album as rare in the world of Depeche Mode collectibles, as is Alan Grayson’s "policy of truth" within this corrupt Congress.

The 1991 "Violator" album went platinum in Mexico and Warner Bros Music Mexico, the Depeche Mode label there made a dozen hand-crafted awards and one of those gorgeous plaques is the one that is being given away to the 100,000th donor. Grayson's average contribution is $18.12.

Some people give $1,000 and some people give $5.00 but whatever you contribute to Grayson on our special Depeche Mode “Violator” page doesn't make it more or less likely that you'll be the "winner" of the plaque. Whether the 100,000th person gives $10 or $2,000, he or she will get the plaque.

Alan Grayson is the one of the most valuable members of Congress, if not the most valuable member. He's accomplished more than any other member from either party and has been a leader on issues from fiscal responsibility and peace to health care and consumer protection. He's an independent-minded, brilliant congressman and is very much needed in the Senate to hold McConnell and Schumer to a higher standard.

Grayson's Republican-turned-New-Dem primary opponent, Patrick Murphy, is the top recipient of Wall Street money among any candidate for the U.S. Senate who isn't an incumbent. Murphy pushes Wall Street's agenda in the House Financial Services Committee and the banksters have rewarded Murphy with $1,054,300 so far, the only none incumbent candidate from either party already over a million dollars. Murphy is Wall Street's #1 priority. Grayson doesn't get bankster money. He's dependent on small dollar contributors like us.

The race for the open Senate seat from Florida is one of the most important of the cycle. And this week, any contribution to Grayson's Senate campaign on the special Blue America "Violator" page means you could be the lucky 100,000th contributor and own the very rare, very collectible Depeche Mode Mexican platinum award-- not to mention help Alan win a seat in the Senate where he'll be working alongside Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and Sherrod Brown.



Keith Ellison Tells Bernie "I'll Be There for You"

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Credit: Howie Klein

After Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that Bernie founded and was first chairman of, endorsed Bernie last week, I asked a savvy friend of mine on Capitol Hill when some of the other progressives who love the platform Bernie is running on would jump in. She told me that it probably wouldn't happen until after the first debate. Well... Keith Ellison (D-MN), the other co-chair of the Caucus, jumped in Monday afternoon, before Tuesday night's debate. Keith knew exactly what Bernie would say in the debate. It's the kind policy he's been working on himself since he was elected to the state legislature in 2002.

Besides being the second Member of the House to endorse Bernie, Keith is also the first Muslim Member of Congress to endorse the Jewish senator from Vermont! Like Grijalva, he will now go out and speak on behalf of Bernie's campaign as a surrogate, the same way many conservative Democrats like Claire McCaskill, Steve Israel and Kurt Schrader are running around boosting Clinton.

Keith told his hometown paper that "Bernie knows that the power ultimately lies with the American people. And in a time where voter participation is at an all-time low, Bernie has shown that he has the ability to create a renaissance in civic participation by exciting those who are least likely to vote. Having stood with Bernie over the years on many different issues, including the Fight for $15, the effort to ban private prisons, and calling for the end of subsidies for Big Oil, I am proud to stand with him now."

He also said that he endorsed Bernie "because he is talking about the issues that are important to American families... We’ve all seen the massive crowds he is attracting, and I think that is a testament to his message connecting with people-- people we will need to turn out in November. Bernie and I have stood together on progressive values for years. Bernie was a founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and as one of the current co-chairs, we have a shared desire to help Americans who are struggling to get by."

Alan Grayson says he's not taking sides yet and that he'd like to work with either Bernie or Hillary. Yesterday, though, he sent out a letter to his supporters saying that he wanted to tell them "something about Bernie Sanders that you probably didn’t know. He served for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and for much of that time, Bernie passed more amendments on the Floor of the House than any other Member of the House. That’s right: the one Member who belonged to neither party passed more amendments than any Member who belonged to either party. Good, solid progressive amendments. Lots of them. He was principled, and he was effective."

Blue America added Keith-- as well as, Angela Marx, the progressive Democrat running in Washington's 3rd congressional district (Vancouver and the suburbs north of Portland, Oregon)-- to the ActBlue page dedicated to incumbents and congressional candidates who have endorsed Bernie.

We spoke to Angela Marx, a life-long resident of Clark County, where she raised two daughters and is helping raise two granddaughters. She's well-known to the Daily Kos community and when she decided that she would explore running for public office this year, she chose an Occupy Democrats poster which expressed her thinking about America and pinned it to her Twitter page on June 14, 2014. "Today," she told us, "it looks like it could be a Bernie Sanders campaign poster. Which is why, when Bernie Sanders started running for the Presidency, I KNEW he was my candidate... because we both stand for the same thing-- ensuring a better America for all of us. Vote Bernie Sanders for President in 2016, because we ARE #StrongerTogether!

This week we're going to give away this rare RIAA-cerified platinum award for the soundtrack of the TV series Friends.(Shown above.) Please consider giving any or all of the candidates-- as well as Bernie-- a contribution. There is no contribution too small to be appreciated. In fact, we're about to burst through our thermometer goal and most of the donations have been $40 or less.



Walls, Walls Between Us, and a Chance for Steely Dan History

Walls. Wasn’t the Republican hero Ronald Reagan famous for tearing down walls?  Now, another famous Republican would like to build his version of the Great Wall of China on America’s southern border. Competing for the spotlight and citing "legitimate concerns" about security at the Canadian border, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, before cutting and running, said he'd consider another wall up north. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not walls, but you could place them into the category of "giant moats."  They provide us with distance from the conflicts in Europe and Asia, a kind of "free security" courtesy of geography and plate tectonics.

Continents drift, collide and pile up against each other and make their own walls; and we give them names. Once Denali, then Mount McKinley, and then back to Denali-- to name just one artifact of continental collision in the news recently. People drift too, though a bit faster. They are fleeing wars, violent drug cartels, crushing poverty, radical and murderous extremists, intolerance and oppression. The drifting people are also given names; refugees, undocumented immigrants, migrants, illegals, aliens and wetbacks. Some Republicans would call them rapists, criminals and anchor babies.

What does it mean to progressives that Mr. Trump leads the Republican field? I expect that we are not surprised that many Republicans identify with his divisive and hate-filled message. What should surprise and alarm us is that 39% of voters today identify as Independents, up from 30% in 2004 according to the Pew Research Center.  Although 48% of those Independents lean Democratic and 39% of the Independents lean Republican, the overall increase in the number of Independents means that progressives and Democrats must do a much better job in helping the average voter to see compelling differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Is there something we can learn about America from the refugee and migrant crisis gripping Europe, Africa and the Middle East? The first lesson might be that it takes extraordinary circumstances for people to uproot and leave the familiar to travel hundreds of miles across deserts and open seas. How many people do you know who would willingly pay their last dollars to a Mexican "coyote" to be jammed into the back of a truck or a Libyan smuggler to board a crowded inflatable raft to cross the Mediterranean Sea?

The second lesson is that however tranquil and orderly America appears on most days, fear and deep resentment boil beneath the surface. Mr. Trump knows this. His immigrant attacks have adroitly tapped into a receptive audience. Progressives see another pot boiling when we look at street protests in Ferguson and riots in Baltimore. That is a different pot of poor people, largely African American, who don’t see a place set for them at the American table.

Progressives should worry that people struggling for a small slice of the American pie know instinctively that the Democrats care for them more than a party obsessed with keeping taxes low for America’s top 1%. But they doubt the Democrats can actually deliver with a job and the other things they need. Many who we think should be Democrats believe that Republicans have the skill to manage government and create growth and opportunities.

Progressives have heart and progressive ideas are smart. We know it, but we’ll only win when we convince Independents that progressives care about them, we’re not in the pocket of big business, we know how to govern better, and that our ideas make sense and will get working families ahead.

Joseline Peña-Melnyk is a progressive with heart and smarts. She’s the true progressive running for Maryland’s 4th congressional dstrict to replace Donna Edwards. Born in the Caribbean and fluent in Spanish, she is equally at home with the district’s growing Latino population and its longstanding African American majority. She preaches unity, not division.

She’s a doer. As a former prosecutor and defense lawyer, Joseline saw that minorities are over-represented in prison. Thanks to her, a new Maryland law taking effect soon will help remove bias by requiring police line-up administrators to be ‘blind’-- that is, the administrator will not know the identity of the suspect or, if he knows the identity of the suspect, the administrator should not know which line-up member is being viewed by the eyewitness. Research shows that in lineups today eyewitnesses often take cues from the line-up administrator and feel pressure to make a selection. The result of her law should be fewer wrongful convictions and more confidence in the justice system. 

Progressives can be practical too. Joseline led Maryland into the adoption of digital medical records. With doctors sharing a database of patient information there are fewer mistakes, fewer duplicative tests, and less unnecessary expensive care. When a constituent came to her with a family tragedy-- the suicide of a teenage daughter, Joseline was the motivator behind "Lauryn’s Law" to ensure that school counselors have training in recognizing teen suicide risk factors.

Immigrant students with limited English language skills were failing in Maryland schools. Only 55% percent of these students graduate high school, as compared to 77% of the general population. Joseline worked closely with the schools administrations to establish two new high school programs funded in part with $3 million in seed money from a Carnegie Corporation grant to target this achievement gap. She did it because we all win if the next generation is prepared to take their place in our society.

In Congress Joseline will continue pushing smart progressive ideas. She’ll support creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s failing roads, bridges and sewer and water systems; she’ll keep fighting for affordable education; and she’ll keep protecting the civil rights of the people on the margins and working to get them a bigger piece of the pie.


Please help get Joseline Peña-Melnyk in Congress where she belongs through your Blue America contribution and maybe you'll luck out and win a very special and very rare Steely Dan platinum album award as a bonus. Rolling Stone has called Steely Dan-- Walter Becker and Donald Fagen-- "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."  Maybe that’s like Reagan being the anti-hero to Trump. I don’t know, but Steely Dan is a complex blend of jazz and rock that is simultaneously intellectually challenging and spiritually, emotionally and physically uplifting. The band sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The particular platinum record we’ll be giving away to one lucky randomly-selected contributor is a super rare collector's edition for Two Against Nature that commemorates RIAA platinum sales certification (1,000,000 albums) and 4 Grammy Awards in 2001-- including Album of the Year. Only a few were made for the band and their associates. This particular one was awarded to Blue America co-founder Howie Klein, then president of Reprise Record, now a devoted Joseline supporter. You can help her win a crowded primary and take a chance on a memorable piece of music history.

The "contest rules" are simple. Just contribute any amount to Joseline Peña-Melnyk's campaign on this page. We're not Republicans so the winner isn't the person who contributes the most. Any amount goes. In fact, if you don't have any cash to spare at the moment and want a chance to win anyway, just send us a post card to Blue America, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as anyone else. But do it quickly. The contest is over next Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time.



Let's Paint The Senate With Stars-- Starting With Alan Grayson

Late in 1997, Enya, one of the most enigmatic-- and successful-- artists on the record label I ran, delivered a new album, Paint The Sky With Stars, a greatest hits compilation with two previously unreleased songs. It was a Christmas smash that year, with over 12 million album sales worldwide, 4 million in the U.S. alone. Enya isn't exactly a household name-- but she's sold far more albums than many artists who "seem" to be better known-- 75 million worldwide and close to 27 million in the U.S. Four of her albums won Grammy awards and one of her songs was nominated for an Oscar. So how did you miss her? Her music is often compartmentalized by the "mainstream" as "New Age" or "women's music" or even "healing music." They play her songs in spas more often than on radio stations. All that said, Enya has built a unique and powerful musical and spiritual bond with her audience. All those millions of record buyers are grateful she is offering something other artists aren't.

This week, in Blue America's first giveaway of 2015, we're offering a rare and collectible RIAA-certified platinum award for Paint The Sky With Stars to launch a Draft Alan Grayson effort.

Alan is the brilliant, sharp-tongued congressman from Orlando and Blue America wants him to run for the Florida Senate seat currently held by shiny, witless Republican Marco Rubio. The Democratic Establishment in Florida-- and to some extent inside the Beltway-- has been pushing lifelong Republican Patrick Murphy, a pathetic Wall Street shill with the 4th worst voting record of any Democrat in Congress. Murphy backs much of the toxic Republican agenda and has consistently voted with the Republicans against core Democratic values.

Elizabeth Warren doesn't look like she'll be taking on Hillary Clinton in 2016. But elevating energetic, innovative men and women like Donna Edwards, Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson into the Senate to serve with Warren will accomplish a great deal towards helping America achieve its lofty ideals. 

Grayson will decide in the next several weeks whether to run or not. It isn't a decision he's taking lightly. And it's likely to be a race that costs as much as $30 million! Murphy will have Wall Street fully behind him. Please let's show Alan Grayson that we appreciate what he's done in the House and want to see him doing even more in the Senate.

Anyone who contributes to his campaign this week on this Draft Alan Grayson page will be eligible to receive the rare, beautiful platinum Enya award-- something that cannot be bought in a store for any amount of money. And, for the sake of the prize, it doesn't matter if you contribute $10 or $1,000; everyone has an equal chance to walk off with the Enya plaque. One random winner will be chosen Monday, April 20th.

One thing the Senate does not need is more values-free, cowardly careerists like Murphy. Alan Grayson in the U.S. Senate... imagine how the evening news broadcasts will change!



Alan Grayson-- Progressives' Cosmic Thing

Alan Grayson was 30 when the B-52’s were recording “Love Shack,” “Channel Z,” “Roam” and the other classic songs that were released on their most beloved and successful album, Cosmic Thing. He had graduated from Harvard, where he had written his masters thesis on gerontology, done some law clerking for both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia and founded the non-profit Alliance for Aging Research.

While the rest of us were trying to figure out which voice was Cindy’s and which voice was Kate’s, Grayson was trying to figure out how to improve the human experience of aging for all American seniors and working with Members of Congress to accelerate the development of treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Now, of course, Grayson is a Member of Congress himself, arguably the single best member and certainly the best member when it comes to the issues facing the non-rich elderly. This week, Blue America is asking one last time this cycle for our members and supporters to chip in to make sure the Koch brothers don’t succeed in November doing to Grayson what they did in 2010, when he didn’t have the resources to respond to a $5.5 million barrage of vicious, false attack ads they financed.

So… anytime all week— until Friday, October 10 at noon (PT)— everyone who contributes, any amount, to Grayson’s campaign on this Blue America page will get a chance to walk off with an RIAA-certified quadruple platinum award for Cosmic Thing.

This isn’t something you can buy in a store. The band and record company awarded it to a small handful of people who helped make Cosmic Thing such a gigantic success. And there’s more. If you want to and you’re the lucky random winner, we’ll fly you and a guest to Orlando where Alan Grayson and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will personally present you with the plaque. Yes, photos allowed!

Alan has been gracious and generous with his time and efforts to help elect progressives to Congress. Here in Los Angeles, he jumped right into Ted Lieu’s battle to win a House seat against Sheldon Adelson protégé Elan Carr. Why is Grayson helping raise money for a California state senator running for Congress when he needs to protect his own seat in central Florida? Here’s why— in his own words:

The American Psychiatric Association has unequivocally condemned any psychiatric “treatment” based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder. The Attorney General has written that “a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable.” The World Health Organization has said that “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.” And yet in the United States, gay teenagers have been held in isolation for months, and forced to attend this “conversion therapy.”

Except in California. Thanks to Ted Lieu.

In 2012, State Senator Ted Lieu wrote a bill to prohibit conversation therapy for minors in California. That bill passed in the California Legislature, and was signed into law. Ted Lieu made California the first state to ban conversion therapy for minors, but hopefully not the last. That was a very important accomplishment.

Now Ted Lieu is running for Congress, and he needs your help. He is seeking the seat of Rep. Henry Waxman. Henry has served for 40 years in Congress, and yet he kept his seat last time with only 54% of the vote. It’s a difficult district, it’s a close race, and we need Ted Lieu in Congress.

…I’m asking you to click below, and show your support for Ted Lieu. He had the guts to take on the Religious Right when it was the Religious Wrong, and he rescued countless children from the bigoted lie that their sexual identity was a “disease” that demanded a quack “cure.” Ted Lieu deserves our support.

Blue America also supports Ted Lieu— but today is Alan Grayson day day for us. Please contribute what you can here— and good luck with the B-52’s Cosmic Thing platinum award and the trip for two to meet Grayson and Pelosi in Orlando.




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