Blue America Welcomes Back Patsy Keever (D-NC)

The last time Patsy joined us for a chat she was going up against a conservative Democrat Steve Israel had recruited in the North Carolina primary. Patsy won-- and by a lot (Israel's candidate wound up with 26% of the vote)-- not just in her own Buncombe County but in every one of the district's seven counties.

Since then she's been running a grassroots campaign for a seat held by one of the banksters' favorite patsies, Wall Street shill Patrick McHenry who represents part of the district in the current Congress. The video above is a TV ad-- except it's not on TV. Patsy Keever has been one of the most consistently independent and progressive voices in the North Carolina legislature but that hasn't endeared her to the big money special interests she's been taking on on behalf on ordinary North Carolina working families. Meanwhile, as of June 30, McHenry had taken in over a million dollars-- only 2% of it from small grassroots contributions. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee and immense sums of money have flowed into his campaign from special interests with business before his committee. Wells Fargo, sleazy payday lenders Advance America Cash Advance Centers, American Bankers Association, Goldman Sachs, Koch Industries, and Moneytree, Inc. are among his biggest donors. They've been financing his scurrilous political career and counted on him to stab his own neighbors in the backs on their account. He adamantly opposes all regulations to keep banksters from ripping off consumers. And up against his million-plus haul, Patsy's grassroots campaign has raised $482,279. She doesn't have the money she needs to put that ad up on TV and she's going to be pushing it online. Blue America wants her to get it up on television in the 10th district.

Although cable TV is a lot less expensive and we can probably help her get the ad on Anderson Cooper's show in Gastonia, Rachel Maddow's in Asheville and Real Housewives of Atlanta in Hickory, because of the hard fought presidential campaign in North Carolina, broadcast TV rates have gone sky high. In Patsy's part of North Carolina it costs $322 per point. You have to buy 100 points at a time, and 100 points will guarantee that your ad will be seen once by your target audience in the space of a week. So we can say we want to target high-information voters... then 100 points will get us one ad seen by high information voters (during the news) in the space of a week. Would you like to help us try?

This afternoon (2pm, EST, 11am on the West Coast), Patsy will be joining us for a live chat here in the comments section. There are no races in the country where the difference between the two candidates is clearer and more stark. his week Patsy told us that "Patrick McHenry wants to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that would cost seniors at minimum an additional $6,000 a year for their health care. I want to keep America’s promise to its seniors and protect the current Medicare benefits that they have earned by paying into the program throughout their lives. I would never support any effort to voucherize Medicare." And that's hardly the only difference between the two candidates. "Patrick McHenry voted to allow taxpayer money to be spent on companies that have outsourced our jobs to China, India and Mexico," she reminded us. "I will vote to support companies that keep our jobs right here in America... I think the flood of money pouring into campaigns from special interests is turning voters off and threatening our democracy. During this election cycle alone, PACs have contributed more than $500,000 to Patrick McHenry’s campaign, with Koch Industries’, Goldman Sachs’ and Morgan Stanley’s PACs contributing $10,000 each. To date, I have received an average donation of $138 from more than 2,700 people, showing I have strong grassroots support from voters who live in the 10th Congressional District."

Here's the page where you can watch the ad and contribute to Patsy's campaign at the same time. Do you have any friends you could send the link to? If they ask you why they should care about a district way out in North Carolina, remind them that, as Patsy told us, "McHenry voted to cut student loan assistance to middle and working class families. As a former public school teacher, I know that every child deserves the opportunity for a quality education–from early childhood through technical school or college. When elected, I will do everything in my power to see that they get it."



Blue America Welcomes Beto O'Rourke

At the end of May, progressives and reformers had a big win in Texas to celebrate. Texas? Well... sort of sure. El Paso is its own unique little corner of Texas, closer, some people like to say, to Los Angeles than to Houston. And in a different time zone from the rest of the state. The big victory was undeniable-- an entirely grassroots campaign by a reform-Democrat on the El Paso City Council, Beto O'Rourke, that swept away longtime Congressman and Machine Democrat Silvestre Reyes, a cog in the Military Industrial Complex wheel.

When I asked Beto what topic he would most like to discuss at our Blue America chat at today (noon, El Paso time, 11am, PT) he didn't hesitate for a moment, although it's a topic a lot of Democrats shy away from: immigration. Beto, 39 years old and the father of 3 small children, is a 4th-generation El Pasoan, a graduate of Columbia University who returned to El Paso and started a technology and media company downtown--not to mention the band, Foss with Cedric Bixler-Zavala who went on to play in At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Cedric went on to other bands-- and Beto went on to City Hall, winning 3 elections as a no-nonsense reformer, where he opposed vigilante Minutemen groups on the border, opposed the wasteful and failed so-called "war on drugs," and pushed through a forward-looking downtown revitalization plan. He was effective and controversial and his enemies kept trying to recall him... but readers of El Paso's biggest weekly voted him the city's Best Elected Official-- beating both Mayor John Cook and, ominously, Congressman Silvestre Reyes.

TX-16, Beto's district, is one of the bluest in Texas. When most of the state was giving McCain a 55-44% landslide over Obama, El Paso voters gave Obama a solid two-thirds victory. Both Gore and Kerry also won in TX-16 while most of the state rallied around its former governor. Beto's victory in the primary stunned DC insiders. They saw a business-as-usual member of their own corrupt little club fall to a steely-eyed reformer. For Party bosses that's scarier than the opposite party winning a seat, which probably explains why the DCCC is completely ignoring Beto's race. That has a lot to do with why Blue America is stepping in with a fill throttle endorsement and why we're asking you to help us make sure he beats the Republican candidate who hopes to flood the district with corporate money.

Beto's adamantly pro-Choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-immigrant stands have angered the haters and bigots and they're determined to defeat him. The DCCC is uninterested in helping. You think they want to hear things like this?

"El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua are home to over 2.5 million people from all over the hemisphere, and together we form the largest bi-national community in the world. This is where Latin America and North America meet, where cultures, economies, families and histories come together.

"The numbers alone are staggering: $80 billion in trade and millions of pedestrians and automobiles cross the five international bridges that connect our two countries annually.

"But our imprint on history is incalculable.

"It was in this bi-national community that the Mexican revolution was planned and launched; it’s here that millions of immigrants first experienced this country as they made their way deeper into the United States, making El Paso the Ellis Island for those coming from Latin America; and it’s El Paso’s history of tolerance and progressiveness that has broken so many national barriers when it comes to race and ethnicity (we elected the first Mexican-American mayor of a major city in 1957; we won the NCAA basketball championships in 1966 with the first all-black starting five; and we were the first city in the former Confederacy to desegregate places of public accommodation).

"Our connection to each other and our isolation from the centers of power, in Washington D.C. and Mexico City D.F., have made us stronger, more self reliant, and less influenced by the conventional wisdom from our respective country’s capitals.

"It means that when we look at the issues related to the border-- issues like immigration, security, trade or Plan Merida-- we understand them better than any community in America, because we live them.

"When D.C. wants to build billion-dollar walls to keep people out, we know it’s money wasted that could be better spent connecting our two countries. When we invest in military helicopters and drug war materiel in Mexico, instead of in schools and social infrastructure, we know that we are condemning our neighbor to more violence and failed policies.

"We see immigration as a huge benefit to this country-- one that fuels our economy, enriches our culture and helps positively define who we are, both to this country and to others around the world.

"We know that we’re offered a false choice when asked to decide between security and mobility. We understand that cities like ours, with large immigrant populations, are the safest in the country.

"Whether you look at it through the prism of economics, demographics or culture-- we are the future of this country. I look forward to sharing a positive vision of the U.S./Mexico border and helping ensure that the best values of our party and our country are reflected in our national policy."

Beto is part of the future of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, part of the future of a new Texas and part of the future of our dynamic country. Please help him write history in November.



Blue America Welcomes Franke Wilmer (D-MT)

When I first met Montana state Rep. Franke Wilmer, I walked away thinking how great it would be to have a woman in Congress who is so much like Barbara Ehrenreich. I've gotten to know her a lot better now-- and I'm more impressed than ever. Her legislative role models tend to run more in the direction of Jeannette Rankin, a Montanan who was also the first woman elected to Congress (from anywhere), and populist lion Pat Williams. Digby, John and I are very enthusiastic about welcoming Franke today as our newest Blue America endorsee. Please be sure to join us below in the comments section at 11am (PT), noon in Montana, to meet Franke for a live-blogging session. If she impresses you the way she has me, please consider contributing to her campaign at the Blue America ActBlue page here.

Let's talk about security-- the job we entrust our elected officials with first and foremost. Security is Franke's field. Aside from serving in the state legislature, she's a professor at Montana State University teaching courses on International Human Rights, International Law, International Relations Theory and the Politics of War and Peace and she's written three books and has traveled to 56 countries as either an invited guest lecturer or for her field research, including five trips to the former Yugoslavia beginning during the war there in 1995. Let's face it, there are so many ways the policies formulated in Congress are headed in the wrong direction on domestic and foreign policy.

But just as important as her academic accomplishments and record of public service are her life experiences. In her early 20s, Franke was a divorced single mother with no child support and few prospects. All she knew was waitressing, and she relied on that to support herself and her daughter while completing her college degree. It took her 16 years, often working two jobs and even 2 years working as a carpenter. “I know what it’s like not to be able to afford health insurance,” she told me last year when I first talked with her. “I know what it’s like to take a pocket full of tips to the energy company to pay my heating bill.”

Let’s look at two aspects of security Franke is highlighting in her congressional campaign-- Social Security and national security. If we don’t elect enough candidates with clear and intelligent voices, a strong base of knowledge and a willingness to look at the facts through the lens of progressive values, these two issues are at very high risk of misguided policies (privatization and more wars) with disastrous consequences. I asked Franke to discuss Social Security first.

Continue reading »



Blue America Welcomes Back Alan Grayson

Today, January 21, is the two-year anniversary of the absolute worst and most dangerous Supreme Court decision of our lifetimes, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. We decided it would be the perfect time to reiterate Blue America's enthusiastic support and endorsement of Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson and to invite him here to Crooks and Liars for a question-and-answer session.

Why Alan? He was one of the first victims of an unrestricted opening of the spigots of corporate money in a congressional race. According to a Politico article late in the campaign in 2010, almost 20% of all of the independent expenditures in House races in the entire country were deployed against Alan. His district was flooded with an unrelenting radio and television smear campaign by the corporations who didn't appreciate his hard work on behalf of consumers and workers. The average person in Orlando saw 70 negative ads against Grayson-- $2 million of which was paid for by the Koch Brothers, $2 million by the health insurance industry and another million from the NRCC. The cash that flowed into the district from the Chamber of Commerce and Rove's band of cutthroats was a direct response to Alan's reform efforts on the House Financial Services Committee and because he was the most effective national Democratic spokesperson in Congress. The DCCC, of course, offered him no help whatsoever in defending his seat.

Two years ago there were only two Members of Congress at the Supreme Court when the narrow 5-4 decision striking down the provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations' and unions' unrestricted election spending on advertising was read out: Alan and Mitch McConnell. I can imagine McConnell squealing with delight. Grayson had quite a different reaction. He warned later that evening on Countdown that "if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye." (See video above.) I don't think he actually meant the physical country itself-- just democracy, so loathed by the plutocratic elites, and all the benefits democracy brings with it.

Alan had gotten over 100,000 people to sign a petition to the Justices at SaveDemocracy.net, and he personally delivered the signatures to the Supreme Court. This was a new experience for the Supreme Court.

"Seeing it coming," he told me when discussing the ruling, "and assuming the worst, I had introduced four anti-Citizens United bills the week before, and introduced four more afterward. We called this our Save Democracy Platform. The core of three of these bills made it into the DISCLOSE Act." These were the bills Alan introduced:

The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

The Public Company Responsibility Act (H.R. 4435): Prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.

The End Political Kickbacks Act (H.R. 4434): Prevents for-profit corporations that receive government money from making political contributions, and limits the amount that employees of those companies can contribute.

The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act (H.R. 4432): Requires publicly traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than for promoting their products and services.

The Ending Corporate Collusion Act (H.R. 4433): Applies antitrust law to industry PACs.

The End the Hijacking of Shareholder Funds Act (H.R. 4487): This bill requires the approval of a majority of a public company's shareholders for any expenditure by that company to influence public opinion on matters not related to the company's products or services.

Blue America was urging Alan to run again even as the votes were being counted in 2010. And we are determined that this year he's going to be back in Congress-- and this time in a solid Democratic district (the new 27th based in Orlando). Please help us raise him the money he needs to beat back the Kochs and the Roves and the corporate special interests.

He recorded this for us last night:



Blue America Proudly Welcomes Senator Bernie Sanders For a Live Chat

>

International Big Business, the Oil Industry, serial polluters... they've been trying to end Bernie Sanders' political career for many years. But, until now, weak, lax campaign rules have held them back, at least to some extent. This year, America's preeminent tribune for working families, may not-- at least according to Public Policy Polling -- have a strong potential Republican opponent. But what he does have is a Citizens United empowered plutocracy who hate him more than anyone in Washington. Bernie Sanders is the Senator up for reelection endorsed by Blue America this year... the one even running for Senate at all we've endorsed so far. That's because Bernie is clear and consistent and driven by values and principles to fight for the legitimate aspirations of regular American families. He doesn't belong to any special interests. He belongs to us. Just listen to what he has to say about the Koch Brothers in the clip above. And, better, join us in the C&L comments section below at 2pm (ET) and meet Bernie for yourself. And, please do think about contributing what you can to help him stave off the attack we know is coming courtesy of a deranged and reactionary Supreme Court ruling in favor of plutocracy and against democracy.

This week Bernie gave a keynote address to the delegates of the United Steelworkers of America at their convention in Las Vegas. He told us he wants to talk with us today about the same stuff he discussed with the 3,000 steelworkers Thursday and the same stuff that he'll be talking about with the New Hampshire Democrats at the Merrimack County annual picnic on Sunday. His message, he says, is "simple, straight-forward and appears to be resonating."

Yes, deficit reduction is important, but it is not the most important issue we face. We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and if the middle-class is to be saved we need to create millions of good paying jobs in the very near future. And we can do it. Here are three approaches that I will be working on to create the jobs we desperately need when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.

He's been hammering three overarching themes. First is the need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, pointing out that "when we do that we not only create millions of good paying jobs, but we also make the entire country more productive and competitive in the global economy." After that he points to the need to move our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy breaking our dependence on Middle East oil, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing air pollution and putting "millions of Americans to work building American made solar panels, building American made wind turbines, building American made heat pumps and weatherizing millions of American homes with energy efficient products and technologies-- all made in America."

And his third theme is how "we have got to fundamentally rewrite our trade policy laws so that American products, not jobs are our number one export." If his rhetoric on this scares you, you've been brainwashed by the plutocratic overlords "Simply stated," he explains, "our current trade policy of unfettered free trade has been a disaster for American workers and must be reformed. Over the past thirty years, we have been told by the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama that unfettered free trade will increase jobs in America. They have been proven wrong. NAFTA has led to the loss of over one million American jobs. Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China has led to the loss of over 2 million American jobs." He worries that if George W. Bush's unfettered free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are signed into law by this President, even more American jobs will be lost. I will be doing my best to fight against these job-killing free trade agreements and come up with a trade approach which is based on the principles of fair trade, not unfettered free trade."

"Despair is not an option," he says. We need to "make sure that government represents all the people, not just the wealthy and powerful... This fight is not just about what happens to our lives. More importantly, it’s what happens to our kids and grandchildren. For their sakes, we cannot give up the struggle." You can see why so many people consider him a national treasure and you can see why Blue America is so determined to help him keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. It's The People's seat amidst so many seats that belong to every sort of wealthy, powerful, selfish special interest. If you can help, please give what you can afford.



Live Chat: Blue America PAC Welcomes Norman Solomon (D-CA)

Media error

It's not very often that I get to know the person that Blue America PAC is endorsing for Congress years before they actually decide to run, but that's the case here as I now welcome Norman Solomon to the Blue America and Progressive communities and wholeheartedly put my support behind his campaign. I'm really pleased that he's coming here to help launch his fight to represent the true left when it comes to matters like the vast war machine and the many unnecessary nuclear energy power plants that our country's elites has embraced.

We meet in 2007 for coffee after he released his book entitled Made Love Got War, which is an autobiographical look at his life's work and that's when I found out that he's a very serious and principled man who has a history of standing up to the military industrial complex along with the nuclear power juggernaut and who stands strong with all working class Americans.

(Please donate to his campaign here.)

Unfortunately we are witnessing in real time the agonies that Japan is facing after suffering an 9.0 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami followed by severe aftershocks and power losses which has wreaked havoc to their Fukushima nuclear plant to the point where it's now at least on par with the great disaster in Chernobyl. There's an outcry from Japan now because many people feel that the government has been hiding the facts from them, while media elites in our country try to tell Americans that nuclear power is so nice and cozy and safe and we shouldn't worry. Even as we speak, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Seeks 20-Year Extension in California.

No shock there, right?

He's also been outspoken against needless and endless wars, supports a woman's right to choose and equal rights's for the LGBT community so what's not to like?. Norman has all the qualities that make up a great progressive candidate from Marin/Sonoma county. The right kind of Progressive candidate. The candidate that will buck the party system and fight for real progressive values and will be an outspoken leader on these issues. He's not just a cookie cutter politician that bows down to the party leadership. He's independent minded in a good way, but will not compromise his values.

Here's some of his accomplishments from his About Norman Solomon page on his website:

*Co-Chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for North Bay

*Organized and went on three missions to Baghdad prior to the invasion of Iraq seeking alternatives to war.

*Health-care Not Warfare National Co-Chair (with Congressman John Conyers and Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association

*Recipient of numerous awards including the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, and the Annual Ruben Salazar Journalism Award

*From 1997 to 2010, as founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, oversaw policy research and liaison with thousands of experts on global warming, foreign policy, labor rights, “welfare reform,” economic equity, lax enforcement of federal regulations, civil liberties and a wide range of other topics related to federal, state and local government policies nationwide

*One of the lone voices on national television against invading Iraq before the start of the Iraq war in early 2003, appearing on CNN and other major TV networks more than a dozen times to argue for diplomacy instead of a U.S. attack

*Co-chair of the state Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus foreign policy committee

*Organized and went on fact-finding trip to Afghanistan in 2009

*The New York Times Magazine has called him “a leading progressive activist.” The Los Angeles Times has called him “a formidable thinker and activist.”

That's a tremendous record of achievements so please join us in welcoming to C&L and Blue America PAC, Norman Solomon.

Please don't forget donate to his campaign at our Blue America act blue page here. He'll need your help to win this race.



Blue America Welcomes Back Jack Conway (D-KY)

Today Blue America is helping Kentucky Attorney General and Senate candidate Jack Conway kick Rand Paul's ass from Ashland to Hickman, Covington to Harlan. Today? Yes, today is Jack's money-bomb and we want to make sure he beats the $246,000 the uncertified Texas eye doctor so... here's the place. Yesterday he told us about his plans to help Congressman Mike Capuano get his Shareholder Protection Act through the Senate next year. Capuano's bill, H.R. 4790, requires a shareholder vote on a corporation’s proposed political budget, giving shareholders the opportunity to weigh in on the use of these funds. January’s Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC established that corporations cannot be prohibited from spending general treasury funds on political campaigns because it would violate their free speech rights. Capuano's legislation gives shareholders the ability to exercise their free speech rights by voting to approve or reject these expenditures. The Supreme Court decision effectively increases the influence of money in politics and diminishes the voice of the voter. Conway, like Capuano, thinks we should be working to limit outside influence on elections, not giving corporations a louder voice. The legislation is a simple and direct way to ensure that corporate political expenditures reflect the will of the shareholders, since the money in question belongs to the shareholders.

Jack told us he's been sickened by the way the Citizens United decision "opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to spend millions of dollars attacking candidates in pursuit of their own agendas."

However, this bill requires a shareholder vote on a corporation’s proposed political budget and would give shareholders a say in how the funds are spent. It also makes the corporation report how it spent its political dollars, after the fact, so the real owners of the company-- the shareholders-- know where their money went.

Last week, a corporate-funded group led by George W. Bush’s chief strategist Karl Rove launched a second attack ad against me in as many weeks. Rove's special interest attack group, American Crossroads, has pledged to spend 49 million corporate dollars attacking Democrats this fall and boosting people like Rand Paul.

I need your help fighting back against Rove and Rand Paul. Paul said he opposes provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and federal student financial aid, such as college loans. I disagree. These laws and initiatives reflect core American values like equal rights and opportunity. We should be standing up for these values, not tearing them down.

Jack's going to be joining us at 11am (PT) below in the comments forum for a free-ranging question and answer session. We'll do our best to hold the Ron Paul shills at bay but please join in-- and please consider donating to Jack's effort at our Blue America Senate page.



Alan Grayson to join C&L at 4:30 PDT/7:30 EDT PM for a Special Live Chat UPDATED: Now 5 pm PDT

Media error

Alan Grayson is joining Blue America on C&L today at 4:30 PST/7:30 EST [UPDATED] 5 PM for a Special Live Chat to help with his fundraising effort. Because the Congressman is so popular and willing to fight for American families like other Democrats refuse to do, he's become a major target for the GOP and their tea party off shoot. He'll be here talking about his new bill, "The War is Making You Poor Act, HR 5353," as well as his new speech which he premiered here Friday based on Eisenhower's "Chance for Freedom' Speech. Please join us later today.

Send Democrats and Tea Partiers a message in the process.



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.

Howie:

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.



C&L's Late Nite Music Club with the Flaming Lips

Tomorrow our Blue America candidate is an extraordinary state senator from Oklahoma, Andrew Rice, a seminary school graduate who is firmly anchored in basic progressive values and principles. And he's taking on one of the most reactionary maniacs in the entire U.S. Senate, Jim "No Such Thing As Global Warming" Inhofe. Make your way over to Firedoglake tomorrow at 1pm Central Time (11am here on the West Coast) and get involved with the live chat between Andrew and members of the Blue America Community. You can also contribute to his campaign on our Blue America page.

We asked him what his favorite music is and he told us he's always singing Woody Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills" to his kids but that among contemporary bands, he's got some constituents he's very gung-ho over: the Flaming Lips. In fact here's a live version of "She Don't Use Jelly" recorded right there in Oklahoma City.




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