Last Contest of 2013 is all about Minnesota… And Depeche Mode!
Keith Ellison stood out as a principled, values-driven progressive when he was a member of the Minnesota legislature. Blue America backed him back then, hoping for more of the same in Washington. And we haven’t been disappointed.
Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, Keith is one of the only Democrats on a leadership track who speaks to the interests of ordinary working families. As Raúl Grijalva told us, “Keith, above all, isn’t posturing. He deeply believes in and relentlessly fights for progressive values and equality for all… He is a real person for these unreal times, and I support him every chance I get.”
Keith is one of the few Members of the House Financial Services Committee who doesn’t kowtow to the banksters and, unlike many of his colleagues, Wall Street doesn’t finance his reelection efforts. When Blue America offered to help him with reelection expenses, he thanked us and asked if we could also help Mike Obermueller, the progressive Democrat running against John Kline in the district next door. We are happy to oblige.
Today is the first day of a week-long drive to raise some campaign funds for Keith and Mike— and Blue America is going to give away a beautiful, classic, RIAA-certified double platinum award for the album “Violator.”
One lucky random donor on this ActBlue page will get that special prize as a gift from Blue America— regardless of how much you contribute.
In fact, if a contribution is too much of a stretch right now, you are still eligible to “win” by sending a note to us at:
PO Box 271201
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Easy rules, right? So is Keith’s proposed Robin Hood tax:
“While the Tea Party pushes to slash government investment, Congress has ignored simple, progressive revenue options that could help us grow our economy. One solution would be my Inclusive Prosperity Act, also known as the Robin Hood tax, which will add a tax of a fraction of a percent on transactions made by the same Wall Street firms and stock traders who crashed our economy in 2008. Forty countries have a similar tax, as did the U.S. until 1966.
“This tax alone will generate up to $300 billion a year in revenue, stabilizing the deficit and allowing us to invest in the things that matter— like roads and bridges, and health care for our seniors.
“The American people stepped up to help Wall Street because they thought it would protect Main Street. But what has Wall Street done in return? Give itself bonuses and exorbitant pay? Tried to repeal Dodd-Frank protections? No, it’s time for Wall Street to help out with Main Street.”
And Mike sees eye to eye with him on economic justice. “Congressman Ellison,” he told us, “is talking about putting justice back in our system. I, too, want to make sure everyone has a fair opportunity in this country. Those who can afford to pay more should step up so that those who are less well-off have a chance at success. Congressman Kline wants to pad the pockets of the wealthy, while ignoring the inequality that still exists in this country. We can do better and I’m committed to making sure we actually do.”
Whether you’re a Depeche Mode fan or not, please help us make Minnesota even bluer by contributing to Keith Ellison’s and Mike Obermueller’s campaigns. We are all in this together, Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America team
Last Contest of 2013 is all about Minnesota… And Depeche Mode!
BREAKING: Mizeur makes Marijuana Legalization part of platform.
Heather is one of the next great leaders of the progressive movement. Let’s help her turn these plans into real results for Maryland’s families— and set an example for what governors can do across the entire country. Politicians do not normally lead, the people do. We have to show our support for these outstanding Progressives if we are to make any headway in Congress.
Give what you can now at our secure page for Heather.
Last summer, Blue America first endorsed Heather Mizeur for Governor of Maryland. If she wins, Heather would be the first woman governor of Maryland and the first openly gay governor in the country. But as she says, she’s not running to make history, she’s running to make a difference. And over the past several weeks, we’ve been noticing that her campaign has been living up to the progressive dream we knew her candidacy would be.
In Maryland, the gubernatorial candidates pick their lieutenant governor before the primary, and Heather wasn’t afraid to make a bold choice— she now has a progressive change agent by her side. His name is Delman Coates, an African-American pastor who runs an 8,000 member church. But he’s not your typical reverend. He played a significant role in the 2012 campaign for marriage equality in Maryland, speaking at rallies and appearing on TV ads. His works stretches to several social justice issues, including common sense gun reform, immigration reform, health care, and voting rights, and has been recognized by the ACLU.
Heather released her 10-point jobs plan and it reads like a progressive wish list. She proposed a millionaire’s tax, with the revenue going to income tax cuts for 90 percent of Marylanders. She wants to turn Maryland’s minimum wage into a living wage— $16.70 by 2022, with sizable increases along the way. She even wants to close corporate tax loopholes and use the money to give small business tax rebates. And her plan also includes paid sick days for all workers, more funding for job training and adult education, and the building of major transit projects, schools, and bridges.
Most recently, Heather has called for marijuana legalization, drawing a clear line of distinction between her and her establishment opponents. While there is now sizable public support for legalizing marijuana, our politicians haven’t caught up. But Heather took the bold step of not only supporting it, but also pledging to make it a gubernatorial priority when she gets elected. And what would she fund with the $157 million in annual tax revenue? Universal pre-k.
This is why Blue America was so excited to endorse her candidacy during the summer. With our help, Heather will be one of the next great leaders of the progressive movement. Can you imagine what Maryland would be like with a progressive income tax system, a $16.70 an hour minimum wage, paid sick days, universal pre-k, and legalized marijuana?
You can donate to her campaign here now on the ActBlue page for gubernatorial candidates.
In the past, Heather has told us she wasn’t interested in business as usual at the Maryland State House, and that she wasn’t willing to settle for the status quo. “Whether it’s a $16.70 an hour minimum wage or progressive tax reform,” she explained, “my campaign is about putting people over conventional politics. It’s about returning Annapolis to the people of Maryland, and taking it back from the special interests and party leaders.” We asked her about her very bold marijuana initiative last week.
My proposal to legalize marijuana in Maryland comes from these values. Maryland had the third most marijuana possession arrests proportionally of all states— over 23,000. It’s easy to see that this system is not working. By legalizing marijuana we will save tens of thousands of people from unnecessary run-ins with law enforcement, imprisonment, or worse.
Marijuana’s time as an illegal substance has run its course. Marijuana laws ruin lives, are enforced with racial bias, and distract law enforcement from serious and violent crimes. Our criminal justice system should keep people safe, treat them fairly, and use limited fiscal resources wisely. Legalizing marijuana is the first step to ensuring that happens.
Marijuana criminalization costs our state $281.7 million every year without making us any safer. A Maryland with legalized, regulated, and taxed marijuana will mean safer communities and fewer citizens unnecessarily exposed to our criminal justice system.
It will also provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education. The new annual revenue will provide 23,625 children with a full day of prekindergarten. Our plan will help ensure that prekindergarten is available to all children in our state.
This campaign is not just about me— it’s about what we can do when we all come together. The election won’t be won by special interests, lobbyists, or backroom deals in Annapolis. It comes down to which candidate’s vision creates a large enough movement of people to win on Election Day and then lift our communities up when we govern.
You’ll find comprehensive plans for all of her proposals on her website.
If you believe in this kind of progressive vision, please consider making a small contribution to help her turn these plans into real results for Maryland’s families— and to help her set an example for what governors can do across the country.
We are all in this together, Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America team
A short time back, NBC News posted an article profiling some of the diehard anti-Obamacare Americans. It was a portrait in hypocrisy, or perhaps something more than that — irreconcilable imbecility.
Take Greg Collett:
“I don’t think that the government should be involved in health care or health insurance,” says Greg Collett, a 41-year-old software developer in Caldwell, Idaho, who would rather pay the fine for now — $95 the first year — than signup….
Collett counts himself among the 29 percent of people who said in an NBCNews/Kaiser poll they are angry about the health reform law. “The issue for me is that it is not the proper role of government,” he said.
Collett, who is married and has 10 children, says the kids are covered by Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance plan for people with low income and children who are not covered.
Okay, if you’re already dumbfounded, Collett steps into an even deeper quagmire of hypocritical stupidity:
Collett, whose children are home-schooled, likens taking Medicaid to sending children to public school. He also does not approve of government-funded public schools. “The government is taking your money. They are spending it on things they shouldn’t be,” he says. “Trying to get whatever you can back — I have nothing against that. You have to at some point try and get your tax dollars back.”
Remember that democracy includes both people who can think and people who are caught up in the creationist stage of the dinosaurs.
Not the Onion.
We hope you saw the Blue America e-mail about Maine senatorial candidate Shenna Bellows yesterday. She’s the former ACLU executive director who’s taking on Susan Collins this cycle. Although Collins is an old fashioned mainstream conservative, who nonetheless backs her reactionary colleagues nearly all the time, the media just delights in terming her a “moderate.” Just like Chris Christie. Yeah… Anyway, this won’t be an easy battle for Shenna to win, even in an increasingly blue state like Maine.
The e-mail blast yesterday covered a whole grab bag of reasons why it’s important for progressives to support Shenna. Mostly we tried painting a whole picture of the kind of senator she will be and the kinds of difficult issues she will be willing to lead on. We don’t expect Shenna Bellows to go to Washington just to vote well any more than that was what we expect of Elizabeth Warren or Alan Grayson.
Fierce advocates and skillful leaders are in short supply in Washington. Shenna Bellows has proven she’ll be one of those.
We asked Shenna to write a brief guest post that we suspect 95% of Democrats wouldn’t go near with a ten foot pole: marijuana legalization.
For us this isn’t just about the specifics integral to the issue; it’s also about the courageousness of a candidate for U.S. Senate taking a tough stand on an issue that frightens most politicians.
The guest post is below, please take a careful look and consider contributing to Shenna’s grassroots campaign here.
As Maine Goes, So Should the Nation with Drug Law Reform —By Shenna Bellows
A few years ago, as executive director of the ACLU of Maine, I was discussing marijuana policy with a prosecutor. As we debated, he started reminiscing about his days as a pot smoker. At that point, I had to tell him that I’d never smoked pot due to my severe asthma. He thought this was funny, but I was troubled by the hypocrisy. When the prosecutor who is locking people up for marijuana laughs about his own use, something is terribly wrong. And when our last three U.S. Presidents have acknowledged marijuana use at the same time that poor kids— particularly young males of color— are getting thrown in jail for the same activity, we need change.
As a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, I support marijuana legalization. We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system, and we cannot afford to wait. The United States incarcerates more people in total and more people per capita than any other country in the world, and the racial disparities are alarming. Even in my home state of Maine, which is the whitest state in the union, blacks are 2.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Government spends billions of dollars each year enforcing counterproductive drug laws, which are truly the New Jim Crow. The economic and human rights costs are enormous.
Our limited public resources would be much better spent investing in drug treatment facilities and community education in a regulated system that promotes community health and safety. Instead of spending billions on a prison industrial complex, we could invest those funds in education, prevention and rehabilitation.
We should treat drug use as a public health issue rather than a criminal one. Mainers have been using medical marijuana safely now for over a decade. I met a senior citizen recently whose wife just died of lung cancer. He told me that marijuana was a necessary part of her palliative care. His daughter risked arrest time and time again to bring them marijuana in her mother’s last months. Medical marijuana patients all across the country have similar heart-rending stories.
Maine is already a leader on marijuana policy. Maine voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana, first in 1999 and then again in 2009. Portland citizens just voted in a landslide to approve the recreational use of marijuana in small amounts for adults over 21. Now is the time for federal reform. We need a commonsense approach to drug policy based on science and liberty; we need to end prohibition. With your help, I will be a voice in the United States Senate for sensible drug policy. Join our movement for change at www.bellowsforsenate.com. As Maine goes, so should the nation.
We haven’t been this excited about a Senate candidate since, well, Elizabeth Warren. If you’d like more in the Senate like her, please consider giving what you can to Shenna Bellows’ campaign today. Thank you for all you do!
We are all in this together, Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America team
Who Will Protect Us From The NSA If Not Congress?
Maine Senate: Bellows Messages How Loud? Amplifying Early Contributions:
Most or all of the following messages can be delivered by Maine U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows with our urgent support:
1. …that a low-income public-interest-salaried carpenter’s (and nurse’s) daughter, who achieved a $50,000 fundraising target before recently declaring her candidacy against a “millionaire incumbent” with more than $2 million in cash on hand, can quickly raise enough small contributions from Progressive donors to prove her viability.
2. …that incumbent Susan Collins’ quickly discredited public assertion that the NSA’s phone data collection program “has defeated and thwarted dozens and dozens of terror plots both here and overseas”, has created a new crack in the armor of Collins’ “carefully crafted reputation as a moderate conservative”.
3. …that Shenna Bellows’ experience spending the past 8 years protecting civil liberties and building coalitions as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has equipped her with the credibility and skills for campaigning and legislating “to repeal the Patriot Act, to stop NSA surveillance on ordinary Americans and to halt indefinite detention[s]” and the “war on drugs”, reminiscent of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s credibility and skills in addressing banks’ fraud, impunity and consumer victimization.
4. …that a coalition of Independents, Libertarians, Democrats and many Republicans in the fishing ports, forests and mountains of America’s Northeast frontier can join together to defend privacy and liberty from abusive security-intelligence bureaucracies, especially in support of a candidate like Shenna Bellows, to whom “Many libertarians have warmed up”, because of “issues such as the drone legislation”, against what one “Libertarian-leaning Republican” describes as “the totalitarian stances of a woman [Collins] who has refused to take a courageous stand against a number of tyrannical pieces of legislation”.
5. …that the 99% can and will use their votes to demand and achieve not only “corporate accountability, fairer taxes and economic safety nets, but also a protected and preserved natural environment”, especially in this very rural state were everybody can see the deepening impact of climate change.
6. …that, when national media attention is drawn to a small state, to cover the story of “Maine’s likely first-ever election of an openly Gay candidate for Governor” of any state in the U.S., this attention can benefit other local candidates — especially one like Shenna Bellows, who was a leader of “Maine’s successful effort to pass 2009 legislation, and then to pass a 2012 state referendum, recognizing same-sex marriages”. (This recognition is still opposed by incumbent Senator Collins, who is evolving too little and too late to catch up with Maine’s voters on LGBT rights.)
7. …that Maine’s electorate will continue trending more Democratic, populist and potentially Progressive after its overwhelming vote to restore same-day voter registration by overturning recent Republican legislation, at the end of a campaign co-chaired by Shenna Bellows.
8. …that Maine’s expanded pool of registered voters will reward energetic personal campaigning, like Shenna Bellows’ campaign activities in each of Maine’s 16 counties within her first week of campaigning, and her intention to continue an intense pace, which will be hard to match for Collins, whose appetite for the campaign trail could be reduced by her age (61 next month) and her recent (first) marriage.
9. …that voters appreciate candidates who remain close to the state they represent, more than Senators who become primarily residents of Washington DC, like Collins, who recently married a long-time DC-resident consultant-lobbyist and former advisor/employee of Republican politicians Lisa Murkowski, Fred Thompson, and —as national manager of presidential campaign— Elizabeth Dole, in contrast with Shenna Bellows, whose husband works as Schools and Curriculum Coordinator of the Civil Rights Team Project of the Office of the Maine Attorney General.
10. …that 18 years is long enough and 24 years is too long in the Senate, especially for a candidate like Susan Collins who previously promised to serve no more than 12 years.
11. …that “Phony Moderate Insider” incumbents need to worry about the risk of being defeated by challengers from their Left, especially in alliances with outsiders, in the same way they already worry about challengers from their Right.
12. …that Maine voters’ 2012 replacement of Snowe with Democratic-caucusing Independent Angus King has not prevented continuing emergence of a trend towards Democratic policy preferences, which must eventually result in mainly electing Democratic candidates.
13. …that young Progressive challengers to entrenched Republican incumbents (who have beaten or deterred challenges from older established Democratic and Independent politicians) can accelerate generational turnover, and can acquire the campaigning and governing experience needed to become future national leaders.
We are all in this together,
Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America Team
The American Dream Lives in Eloise Reyes:
Eloise Reyes endorsed by Blue America for CA-31
Every once in a while a grassroots leader emerges who is not only smart, hard-working and philosophically aligned with Blue America, but whose very life embodies the progressive American Dream.
Eloise grew up in Colton California, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant mom and a Mexican American Dad (who didn’t know he was a US citizen as a child!) They were poor people who raised up a bunch of kids who became lawyers, police officers, business owners, public servants and college professors. All those kids worked in the fields alongside their parents, they studied hard and made their way into America’s middle class. Eloise became a lawyer, establishing her own private practice while devoting herself to long hours of pro-bono work with Legal Aid for many, many years. She became successful and gave back by becoming a committed grassroots activist working to make life better for her community and her country.
Eloise benefited from a strong family and a strong society that went out of its way to offer opportunity and security to people like her —- and she’s committed to making sure that society is available once more to future generations.
Eloise is running for congress against a cookie cutter Democrat named Pete Aguilar who is backed by the DC establishment —- a Democrat so inept that he came in third in California’s jungle primary to two Republicans in this deep blue district in the last election. The result was that the progressive majority had no Democrat on the ballot for congress when they cast their votes for President Obama in massive numbers. Why the DCCC thinks it’s a good idea to back someone who couldn’t do better than that in a presidential year remains a mystery, but they are doing it. And Pete Aguilar could lose this seat again.
This is a deep blue district and if the party succeeds in getting their malleable, empty suit (who doesn’t even speak Spanish!) on the ballot to face the incumbent Republican, it’s just as likely that the progressives in this district won’t bother to vote. But they will vote for Eloise Reyes, who is extremely popular and known to be committed to the progressive values of her community. She is someone the people in California 31 relate to as one of them —- because she is one of them.
And she is one of us, too. Here’s Eloise on the Chained-CPI:
I grew up in a family where everyone did their part to make ends meet. My brothers, sisters and I all worked the onion fields alongside our parents to help pay for our school clothes. I understand what it means to work your whole life, pay into Social Security and expect to live out your final years without having to make critical choices between food or medicine or rent.
It’s simply wrong to try to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors, veterans and the disabled. I’m running for Congress to make sure that never happens to anyone in San Bernardino, Upland, Redlands or anywhere else in America. Whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat who proposes it, “chained CPI” is just another way of saying “benefits cuts”— and I will always hold Congress accountable when it comes to keeping the promises we have made to our seniors.
Imagine what it would be like to have Democrats like Eloise in congress, leaders who would step up and proudly declare their opposition to cuts to the very programs that allow working Americans like her parents and her to take chances in their lives, change jobs, start businesses, get advanced degrees, knowing that their risk is mitigated by a society that provides some minimum level support if and when you become too old or sick to work.
Eloise Reyes will commit to preserving the very best of the American promise. She knows how valuable it is. She’s lived it.
Blue America is proud to endorse her for the congressional seat in California’s 31st district and we hope you’ll join us by donating what you can to her campaign here.
We are all in this together,
Digby, for Howie, John, and the Blue America team
“Designed and sewed by Bridget Keith, age 12. Dress is from the Goodwill, cats are from her stuffed animal collection. Idea all her own.”
Does your kid’s science book question evolution?
Does the history book downplay slavery in the civil war?
Guess who you can thank? Yes, the largest buyer of text books in the USA, Texas, and their cabal of lunatics on the Texas Board of “Education.”
Per the NY Times: One is a nutritionist who believes “creation science” based on biblical principles should be taught in the classroom. Another is a chemical engineer who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame. A third is a trained biologist who also happens to be a fellow of the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based center of the intelligent-design movement and a vice president at an evangelical ministry in Plano, Tex.
Meanwhile… 80% of school books in the USA conform to Texas standards. And as you can see from above, those standards are pretty pathetic.
If you’ve been hearing how hard it is to get through to a live person on the ACA Hotline, or hearing blowhards talk about what a disaster it is…
…here’s somebody who tried on live TV.
She called 1-800-318-2596 and got through.
It took her ONE MINUTE.
- Steve Marmel
- - - The Story - - -
In 75 seconds, Mika Brzezinski was able to connect with an Obamacare agent—on national television.
Technical problems have marred the roll-out of Obamacare’s online exchanges. On Monday, President Obama encouraged Americans to call the hotline to sign-up, but some critics say that isn’t working either.
“By the way, we called the hotline on Monday and the automated menu redirected us to Healthcare.gov, which in turn told us to get in touch with someone at the call center,” the Wall Street Journal editorial page wrote on Tuesday. “In an era where Google is making self-driving cars and Amazon offers next-day delivery for just about anything, the White House plunged ahead with a system it knew to be defective and is relying on the technology of the 19th century as the fall-back.”
“I got an agent! Hi there,” Brzezinski exclaimed. She dialed the number at 6:47 and was connected with an agent at 6:48.
“Did they refer you to healthcare.gov?” MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow asked.
“No, I got a live agent,” she said. “Alright, so by the way, unlike the Wall Street Journal, if you want to get through call 1-800-318-2596.”
Asshole of the Day, October 16, 2013: Ted Cruz
So the shutdown and debt ceiling fight are over, and even Ted Cruz won’t filibuster the final bill which is expected to pass tonight.
So what did Ted Cruz and his crowd gain from this? Well, we’re glad you asked:
Asked what he has gained from holding-up a deal for weeks, Cruz pointed to a political petition he has been promoting for days:
We saw first of all, millions of millions of American people rising up across this country, over two million people signing a national petition to defund Obamacare.
But while more than two million people added their names to a website run by The Senate Conservative Fund — a political PAC that supports Cruz– urging Congress defund the Affordable Care Act, popular support for the health care law has actually increased…
In three week period following Cruz’s speech — even as GOP’s national approval ratings plummeted — conservatives frantically built their fundraising lists and campaign coffers. In the last quarter, Cruz’s political action committee raised in $797,000, nearly twice what it pulled in the quarter prior, and Heritage Action — which has pressured conservatives to vote against any bill that does not undermine Obamcare — collected $330,000.
So this was about building a donor list for Cruz’s 2016 run. Oh, great. With all that money, this asshole will be sure to run in 2016. Remember that big pile of money Rick Perry had that pushed him into the race and then kept him there long after his big OOPS! moment? Well, Cruz is already filling up to do the same. Early polls may not matter, but money sure does.
So now even Heritage Action is saying the fight to get rid of Obamacare before Obama leaves office was a doomed one, and it’s pretty clear they and Cruz knew this all along. And for this whole pointless show for two weeks, costing an estimated $24 billion dollars, Ted Cruz, you are the last of Asshole of the Day of the shutdown.
As I said earlier today, Ted Cruz has outstripped my ability to satirize him:
Ted Cruz: “I won’t filibuster this bill. I’m already the frontrunner for 2016, so I don’t have much to gain from blocking it.”— Top Conservative Cat (@TeaPartyCat) October 16, 2013
- protesting the consequences of the shutdown HE orchestrated
- claiming the shutdown he orchestrated will leave America vulnerable to a terrorist attack
- comparing Obamacare to the Nazis gassing 6 million Jews
- creating condescending memes to address the President like some i-can-haz teenager
For a satirical look at the how the Obamacare defenders collapsed today, check out my post over at WinkProgress about how this was all about fundraising: Heritage Action refunds all donations after admitting Obamacare can’t be stopped until 2017.