Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beyond The Hubbub: Can Randy Bryce Really Beat Paul Ryan In 2018?


As we were entering Politicon a couple months ago, we passed David Frum and I introduced him to Randy Bryce. I didn't have to say anything more than his name before Frum asked if they could get together in Washington to speak and asked if Randy would appear in a movie that was being shot about him. He was excited, very excited; he knows how to read the zeitgeist. A couple nights ago Randy and I were leaving a restaurant when we ran into Al Franken. "Al," I said, "let me introduce you to Randy Bryce." Franken got so excited, he couldn't stop talking and he invited Randy to come visit him in Washington and offered to write a contribution check for his campaign. Nice! He also knows how to read the zeitgeist  But it isn't always that way. Also at Politicon I ran into a Republican Party TV personality, Bill Kristol, whose dad, Irving, was known as the "grandfather of neoconservatism." I offered to introduce him to Randy too-- don't ask why why; I have no idea-- and he smugly demurred and launched into the silliest Beltway nonsensical perspective I've ever heard on the race-- every hackish truism about why Randy has no chance against the sitting Speaker of the House, pure backward-facing DC punditry. He apparently lost any ability to read the zeitgeist-- if he ever had it to begin with.

See that little graphic up top? That's the current polling margin of victory of Randy over Ryan after one positive line is read from both their biographies. And Randy is just getting started to introduce himself to voters in the southwest Wisconsin district that stretches from the suburbs south of Milwaukee into Racine and Kenosha, across notorious Waukesha County, over to Janesville and almost as far as Beloit on the Rock River, a Democratic stronghold Ryan had the Republican legislature gerrymander out of the district to protect himself. Anyway, what those numbers in the graphic say is that Bill Kristof is wrong-- Randy Bryce can beat Paul Ryan. It won't be easy and Randy will never match the $11,150,271 war-chest Ryan reported to the FEC on June 30. But Randy doesn't need to match him to beat him. He just needs enough to get his message out. Ryan can spend $11 million or $20 million or $40 million; it won't matter if Randy has what he needs to effectively communicate his message and his vision. And so far, that's going great. His introductory video has people across the district talking about the possibility that Bill Kristol can't grasp.

This week, Blue America is pitching in with a contest. We're giving away a guitar signed by all the members of Green Day to one person who contributes to Randy's campaign here at the NoTrump.NoKKK.NoFascistUSA page-- any amount. When I sat down to write this post 190 people had contributed $3,933. That's an average of $20.70-- and that's how a grassroots campaign works. Randy isn't sucking up to special interests for big PAC checks. He's been clear, for example, that he's taking no money from Big Oil or from Wall Street.

This is how he contrasted himself with Paul Ryan right from the very beginning of his campaign: "Speaker Ryan," he wrote, "lost touch with us years ago, focusing more on power and political party then on the people of our communities. And we see it in his actions in DC everyday:
Instead of fighting for a Single Payer Health Care system that will ensure that all of us can be healthy and receive treatment, Speaker Ryan is working on taking health care away from up to 32 million Americans, while giving huge tax cuts to billionaires and millionaires.
Instead of Fighting for Working People and lifting the economic floor by fighting for a $15 minimum wage, investments in our workforce, and support for organized labor and tax fairness, Speaker Ryan has presided over the erosion of our economy across Southeastern Wisconsin over the past 20 years, as unfair trade deals, the loss of manufacturing jobs and failure to jumpstart the industries of the future have hollowed out our economy.
Instead of committing our country to reversing Climate Change, investing in renewable energy, and protecting the environment, Speaker Ryan is standing in the way of progress, applauding as the US retreats from an international commitment to preserve our planet.
Instead of defending Women’s Health Care and Reproductive Rights, Speaker Ryan wants to strip away a woman’s right to choose, and access to basic health care like mammograms, cancer screenings and birth control.
Instead of committing to real Campaign Finance Reform that empowers people-- like overturning the destructive Citizens United decision, standing up to cynical voter suppression efforts, and increasing participation in our democracy-- Speaker Ryan is defending a damaged status quo that coddles corporations, the rich and the powerful.
Instead of pursuing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Speaker Ryan has accepted a broken system that continues to tear families apart and goes against everything our country stands for and has sat idly by while our neighbors-- his constituents-- right here in Southeast Wisconsin live in fear of deportation.
Goal ThermometerAnd the description of himself is like a description of all of us and all of our families: "I’m a father and a son. I’m a veteran and a cancer survivor. I’m a working person and have spent my career building and growing Southeastern Wisconsin with my own two hands. So ask yourself this: who do you trust to fight for you, your family and our communities-- someone who has been working the iron for the past 20 years; or Paul Ryan, who has been in Washington, DC for the past 20 years, working for Wall Street and the big corporations." If you click on the NoTrump.NoKKK.NoFascistUSA Blue America thermometer on the right and contribute to Randy's campaign, you'll be automatically entered in the contest for the signed Green Day guitar. The real prize, though, is not an autographed guitar; it's repealing and replacing Paul Ryan. The guitar is nice; helping to save our country from Paul Ryan and his cronies and campaign donors is much, much nicer. Don't you agree? Please give what you can.

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Is Small Business Really The Backbone Of Our Economy? And Do Congressmen Have Backbones?


Southern California's best member of Congress, Ted Lieu, understands the problems small businesses face better than most members. "Republicans," he told us this morning, "love to talk a big game when it comes to supporting small businesses, but in reality most of their policies benefit big corporations. I grew up working in a small gift shop owned by my parents, so I know that small businesses really are the backbone of our economy. Since the turn of the last century, we have known that when a very few massive corporations have nearly complete control over a market it is bad for workers, bad for consumers, and bad for innovation. Government has an essential role to play in protecting its citizens from the adverse effects of corporate consolidation."

If you're interested in monopolies and anti-trust action to contain them, you've got to watch the John Oliver segment above. It's among his greatest hits. It's time to bring back an anti-trust effort in a big way and for candidates to start addressing it. Voters certainly understand they're being screwed by the monopolies Oliver was talking about on his show. A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at the state of monopolies in the Trump Era. Today I turned to Lillian Salerno, the sensible populist candidate running against GOP crackpot Pete Sessions in the Ft. Worth area (CA-32). As an Obama deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, she's something of an expert on the destruction monopolies cause to working families. Today she told us that "There is a graveyard of small businesses that died from the gunfire of monopolies and corporate strongmen. The American worker and consumer pay the price, as all of working class America wonders how they are going to put their kids through college or pay for elder care in retirement."

South of where she's running, another progressive Democrat, Derrick Crowe, is the candidate Blue America has endorsed for the Austin-San Antonio seat being occupied by reactionary Republican Lamar Smith has recognized the monopoly problem and has been writing about it himself. This morning he told us that, "Monopolies suck cash out of the hands of working class people and give it to the super wealthy and corporations. Under monopolies and oligopolies, corporations call the shots, not voters. They bully the consumer and overcharge us. They bully suppliers and underpay them. They close markets to small businesses and they concentrate economic and political power in the hands of a very, very few people. That’s how we get the rigged system. That’s also why we pay too much for goods and services like health care, food, cable and Internet, and plane tickets.  We need people in Congress that will push the administration-- Republican or Democratic administrations--to use anti-trust tools to break up monopolies-- and also hold hearings to expose anti-competitive, anti-democracy behavior by corporations. We also need folks who are ready to fight the rise of platform monopolies so that companies like Facebook and Google don't get a stranglehold on democracy."

Last March Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Pentagon’s acting inspector general accusing defense contractor TransDigm Group of illegally overcharging the Department of Defense by acting as a "hidden monopolist."

The business model Khanna described is devilishly clever, wildly profitable and totally at odds with the basic principles of a competitive market. TransDigm is essentially the Martin Shkreli of defense contractors. It’s a large holding company that searches for specialty parts used in heavy machinery-- unique panels, connectors, cables and other components-- that are produced exclusively by a single company. TransDigm buys these producers and Pharma Bros them, dramatically inflating the price to exploit their monopoly.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) cited examples of TransDigm price hikes, including a cable assembly that went from $1,737 to $7,863 and a motor rotor that had been $654 now going for $5,474.

Khanna’s letter cited five specific aerospace parts the company had jacked the price on, including a “cable assembly” that went from $1,737.03 to $7,863.00 after being acquired by TransDigm. The price of a TransDigm “motor rotor” soared from $654.46 to $5,474.00.

But the practice is widespread throughout TransDigm. The company’s own filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission state that 80 percent of its sales come from parts for which TransDigm believes itself to be a monopolist.

Not all of the company’s parts even work. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that drones were crashing due to faulty starter-generators supplied by a TransDigm subsidiary.

“The president is asking for $54 billion more on defense,” Khanna told the Huffington Post. “How much money are we wasting on monopolistic behavior?”

The Pentagon has rules designed to defend itself against predatory pricing. Companies that function as the sole vendors of supplies have to detail their costs to the government, which allows the firms to reap a reasonable profit margin over and above these expenses. But Khanna’s letter argued that TransDigm evaded these rules by setting up “a network of captive distributors”-- middlemen who sold to the government, creating the illusion of an actual competitive market.

“TransDigm isn’t a business, it’s the abuse of monopoly power so extreme it borders on performance art,” according to Matthew Stoller, a fellow with the New America Foundation’s Open Markets division. “Congress should investigate this aggressively.”

No less than 12 TransDigm subsidiaries failed to disclose to the Defense Department in their procurement filings that they were owned by TransDigm, according to Khanna.

TransDigm did not respond to requests for comment. The company’s chief executive, W. Nicholas Howley, received $18.7 million in 2016-- more than the chief executives of Apple, Boeing or Citigroup.

Khanna’s interest in the TransDigm case reflects a broader concern in Washington over concentrated economic power. In early March, the Center for American Progress hosted a forum on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, focused on his antitrust record...

Khanna is waiting to hear back from the Defense Department before taking further action, but he hasn’t ruled out a congressional investigation.

“This is a bipartisan issue,” Khanna told HuffPost. “There are many of my Republican friends who want to see our dollars going to troops and readiness and not to anticompetitive behavior.”

Haley Stevens is likely to be the next member of Congress from suburban Detroit's 11th CD. These kinds of issues are at the core of why she's involved in public service. Previously, the chief of staff for the Obama administration’s auto bailout, she told us that "We must reclaim the narrative that our economy drives from people, and a person's ability to make, sell, produce and purchase from their individual capabilities. For too long we've gone lax on anti-trust while the middle class has paid the price. We've let large conglomerates take over at the expense of our regional economies. Now is the moment to hold corporate America accountable, reclaim the fight for working families, fair wage, and an equal playing field that benefits people. It's the people first agenda that will win the future."

Dan Canon, a civil rights attorney, is running for the Indiana seat help by Trump rubber stamp backbencher Trey Hollingsworth. "We've known since at least the early 20th century," Dan told us, "that the dispersal of economic power creates a stronger working class, a stronger economy, and a stronger country. The only reason to gut antitrust laws, or not to enforce the ones already on the books, is simple: to consolidate economic power and create an oligarchy. If politicians really supported small business, they'd support antitrust reform and enforcement-- not tax cuts for the rich."

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The Third Way Has Always Been A Fancy Excuse For Politicians Taking Massive Special Interest Bribes


Remember the other day when we looked at how centrism sucks? We were looking at American politics. But we're not the only ones with the problem. Remember the British avatar of neoliberal assholism, New Labour's Tony Blair? New Labour is very much like New Dems, the same disease. Monday morning Blair showed up at the Global Politico podcast with Susan Glasser. One of the earth's worst human beings wanted to remind everyone how lucky we are he's no longer spreading his toxins from inside government. Glasser warns her audience that "the former British prime minister, a perennial lightning rod for controversy across on both sides of the Atlantic, has in recent months chosen to return to the political fray" and is running around like a chicken without a head squawking "that the left-wing populism peddled by Sanders and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain are not the answer" to neo-fascist movements like Trumpism.
Blair, the onetime wunderkind of British politics who led the Labour Party and the country for 10 years from 1997 to 2007 preaching a Clintonian centrism he called the “Third Way” only to see his tenure end amid recriminations over his support for Republican George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, still punches hardest when he’s hitting to his left. In our conversation, he bashed today’s liberal leaders in both countries for “solutions that look back to the ‘60s or ‘70s” and for preaching a form of feel-good “identity politics” that will flop as an answer to Trumpism.

“You can go for what are very good-sounding things like, we’re going to abolish tuition fees, or we’re going to give you this for free, or that for free,” he says, calling out both America’s Democrats and Britain’s Labourites. “In today’s world, and in particular, in the absence of a vigorous change-making center, that’s very attractive. But I don’t think it’s answer, and I’m not sure it would win an election. Maybe it would, but even if it did, it would worry me. Because in the end, I think a lot of these solutions aren’t really progressive. And they don’t correspond to what the problem of the modern world is.”

But it’s Blair’s comments about Trump as much as his disdain for Sanders and Corbyn that are likely to infuriate many U.S liberals.

Just a few months ago, Blair stirred outrage when he told his former communications chief Alastair Campbell in a British GQ interview that Democrats “just go mental with you” at even the suggestion of working with Trump and that the divisive U.S. president who has spoken of the mainstream press as “enemies of the people” may have a point about his “polarized and partisan” media coverage.

Blair did not back away from that in our interview, saying it’s a mistake “just to go in flat-out opposition” to Trump, that the American president may well end up as a traditional Republican at least on foreign policy and arguing Trump has “actually been helpful” in the Middle East, where Blair has served as a mediator for the quartet of Western powers trying to achieve a long-elusive peace settlement.

Trump, he says, has correctly identified “an extraordinary and one-off opportunity” to move toward a deal between Israel and Arab states that may finally be willing to “move on” from the Palestinian issue. “I do think there’s a big opportunity there, and I think that the White House understands that,” Blair tells me, voicing an optimism that few other peace-process veterans share.

“I can’t afford to be in a position of just treating President Trump as if he’s part of a sort of interesting comedy show,” Blair says.

...[I]t’s almost impossible to overstate the extent to which Blair is excoriated across the British political spectrum these days-- “his reputational currency has fallen as his bank account has swelled” over the last decade, says his old colleague Campbell, acknowledging not just Blair’s political unpopularity but the opprobrium he’s gotten for what’s perceived as buck-raking from advising autocrats from the Persian Gulf to Kazakhstan.

Even those who don’t outright condemn Blair see him as a man without a party, tilting at Brexit without being able to propose a realistic scenario by which it could be overturned, given that neither Labour nor the ruling Conservative Party is willing to officially campaign on undoing it. “Brits hate him. They really hate him,” says one American who spent the better part of two decades living in London. “His international stature, even now, masks how low is the esteem in which he is held back home.”

In contrast, Blair has remained well regarded here, and tends to get positive notices from centrist-minded American commentators who see him as a rare liberal willing to take a moment away from Trump-bashing and Brexit-bemoaning to trash the rising populism and “riding the politics of fear,” as he put it to me, that is now increasingly seen as the only acceptable response to angry voting publics in both countries. Just as Hillary Clinton is touring the country now peddling a version of What Happened in her campaign memoir, Blair acknowledges that he and others in the Clintonian middle opened the way for this challenge-- they became “complacent” in power, he says, entitled “managers of the status quo”-- though as with Clinton there are many critics who feel he is hardly introspective enough about his own role in the current mess.
And that brings us to the only thing behind political centrism: corrupting cash. That, after all, is all the Third Way has ever been about. That's the basis of the New Dems more than any political entity in the history of America. They have no real set of beliefs and what holds them together is an opportunity to soak up corporate cash in return for their services. This morning, Lee Fang and Said Jilani penned an Intercept piece about how the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists are behind the move to undermine Bernie's Medicare-for-All efforts.

Yesterday we looked at which politicians take the most bribery from Big Pharma. Since 1990, the Insurance industry has spent $387,502,675 in bribing candidates for congressional office-- $236,652,744 to corrupt Republicans and $147,762,884 to corrupt (mostly conservative) Democrats. These are the dozen worst whores to the insurance industry (currently in Congress):
John McCain (R-AZ)- $3,702,426
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $2,327,530
Richard Neal (D_MA)- $2,207,506
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $2,121,451
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $2,098,920
Pat Tiberi (R-OH)- $2,057,243
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $2,049,640
John Larson (D-CT)- $1,656,115
Ed Royce (R-CA)- $1,621,899
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)- $1,603,475
Joe Crowley (D-NY)- $1,549,465
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- $1,480,784
And, yes, if these 12 men woke top in prison tomorrow on bribery charges, America would be on the road to Medicare-For-All. As Jilani and Fang pointed out, "The for-profit health care industry and its political surrogates were quick to criticize the sweeping universal Medicare legislation unveiled this week by Sen. Bernie Sanders and more than a dozen Senate Democrats." David Merritt, vice president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group for health insurance companies, said in a statement to reporters "Whether it’s called single-payer or Medicare for All, government-controlled health care cannot work." The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, another insurance lobby group, released a statement declaring that it "adamantly opposes the creation of a single-payer regime, and our guard is up on these efforts... These are worrisome developments, and the increased volume on single-payer is setting off alarms on what Democratic priorities could represent following seven years of failed ACA repeal efforts."
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC funded by a number of health care interests-- including health insurance giant Anthem, pharmaceutical firm Amgen, and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a lobby group for biotech companies-- also sprung to attack the proposal.

The group called the bill the “latest radical and expensive plan for government-run health care” in an announcement on the CLF website.

Former Rep. Bruce Morrison, the Connecticut Democrat who left Congress and is now a lobbyist for the American Hospital Association, dismissed the plan as doing too much to disrupt employer-based coverage.

“Half of America gets their health insurance coverage on the job,” Morrison said. Single payer would replace coverage for some 150 million people, he noted. “If you just leaped to Medicare for All, you would totally disrupt the expectations of all those people. And that would not be a good idea.”

A similar argument was made by former Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, who lost his seat and is also now lobbying for a number of health care interests, including health insurance firm Aetna and drugmaker Novo Nordisk.

Until he was defeated in 2010, Pomeroy, a ultra-corrupt Blue Dog, accepted a mind-boggling $2,232,597 from the insurance industry, slightly less than Paul Ryan has taken in bribes from them! Pomeroy was never charged with taking bribes and now hands them out to his former colleagues.
“Pretty consistently, people value the coverage they have. Any proposal that says you have to give up the coverage that you know for coverage that we’ll create under a new government program will be a difficult sell,” Pomeroy told The Intercept.

“I think this is an organizing tool to continue to build support for a dramatic further overhaul of the health reform system. And I think that’s its fundamental purpose, and no one thinks it’s going to pass anytime soon,” he concluded.

The universal Medicare proposal released this week extends health insurance coverage to every single American free of copays, premiums, and deductibles-- and has long been viewed as a direct threat to highly profitable health-related industries and providers.

The bill calls for gradually expanding Medicare coverage, starting with the young and phasing in other segments of the population. The plan would cover all essential services, including routine doctor visits, emergency room care, mental health, dental, outpatient care, and forms of treatment.

Sanders’s office also released a statement this week laying out various financing methods for the bill, including an employer tax, closing tax loopholes, and a variety of progressive income-based taxes.

Private health insurers hate the plan because it would largely replace them. Drugmakers fear single payer because the Sanders bill calls for price negotiation on pharmaceutical products, a policy now barred by a provision created by drug lobbyists and their allies in Congress. Other providers are worried that an empowered single health provider will be able to use its collective bargaining power to cut waste and investigate price gouging.

The unrivaled political power of health care industries--  health interests are routinely near the top of rankings for lobby spending and campaign donations-- have made controlling costs incredibly difficult. Americans spend far more on health care per person than any country in the world while consistently ranking fairly low on a range of health outcomes, including life expectancy.

The aforementioned lobby group America’s Health Insurance Plans secretly spent $86 million on dark money efforts in 2009 to derail the Affordable Care Act, with a special focus on eliminating the public option provision. As The Intercept first reported, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, the other insurance group blasting the Sanders effort, similarly mobilized part of the effort to defeat a ballot measure in Colorado last year to establish a state-based single-payer plan.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

What all Republicans, the majority of Democrats, and media hacks euphemistically and cynically call "Tax Reform," is obviously nothing of the sort. Only those who are eagerly susceptible to brainwashing would believe that real reform is what politicians have in mind with the lowering of their own tax rates and the lowering of the tax rates of those they spend all day picking up the phone and dialing for "contributions" from. Politics is a 24 hour cash exchange business. It's "you give me cash and I'll lower your personal and corporate tax rates, all nice and legal like." Yeah, nice and legal like in Columbia or Bolivia.

Perish the thought that we might each pay $2.00 a year to fund political campaigns, and perish the thought that we might actually put real, reasonable, and loophole-proof limits on the amount of money that a given politician can spend on his or her campaign. "Where's the fun in that," they would say. "What about all that cash I suddenly wouldn't have in my pocket?" "How would I pay for my hookers?"

As today's meme indicates, back in the 1950's, the tax rates made a lot more sense if one actually wanted to grow the economy and strengthen the country. What better way to have people buy the goods some corporation makes than to build a large middle class that has disposable income to spend on your products? None of that is what the majority of today's politicians are interested in. They are just along for the ride, and what a ride it is! They talk about "tax reform" and we pay for their fine dining and healthcare.

We also now have crumbling bridges and highways that increase the wear and tear on our cars, thus increasing the cost of our vehicle ownership when we have to replace tires, shock absorbers, and windshields far more often; something that could be dramatically lessened if the roads were kept in better condition. Instead of federal and state taxes paying for transportation infrastructure, we are, in essence, billed directly when faulty roads and bridges damage our cars. All of this is not to mention the increase in accident, hospital, and funeral expenses incurred due to bad roads and bad bridges. I guess this is all part of the traditional conservative belief that everything should just be on a "survival of the fittest" basis.

Meanwhile, hospitals rely on the donations of a minority of the rich, and, of course, ever-increasing astronomical medical costs to, you guessed it, us. What is the republican solution? Healthcare only for those who can afford it. To the rest of you, you'd best, as Alan Grayson has pointed out, "die and die quickly." That dovetails nicely with their successful efforts to increase the income gaps and eliminate the middle class altogether. It's their nearly realized wet dream of a future of the mega-rich few with the rest of us being slaves or near slaves; the pre-Magna Carta time of Lords and Serfs.

Yes, our taxes once got us to the moon, but that's that dreaded science thing that Republicans deny. Hell, half of them will tell you that they have proof that the landings on the moon were fake. It's all part of their "fake news" insanity. Sensible tax codes even paid for returning soldiers getting an education and learning science in schools! Imagine that!

The 1950's tax codes that actually did make America great are now a long gone thing from 60+ years ago. Most Americans who benefited from that structure will soon be gone. Already, teachers in schools dare not bring it up. What actually did make America great will soon be completely forgotten. Your elected representatives and their CEO masters are counting on it. Welcome to the new 12th century!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

A Real Time Look Back Into DIY San Francisco Punk Rock


I have a vague recollection that this happened. The first part of this video above was a TV show I apparently taped with KTVU icons Ann Fraser and Ross McGowan in the early 80s in San Francisco about the punk rock scene. Someone sent it to me Friday. (And, no, that was not John Amato shouting "Howie" when I came out on the set. This was decades before we ever met. Does sound like him though.) It looks like they put makeup on me. Eventually I stopped allowing that when I went on TV but this early in my show biz career. Here's a picture of me from back in those days-- without the makeup; I'm the one on the right, at the KSAN studio with Chris Knab, my 415 Records and radio show partner, and a couple of Sex Pistols, Steve Jones and Paul Cook:

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Batch Of Good Candidates Running For The Open Albuquerque Congressional Seat


Michelle Lujan Grisham was been a dull backbencher in Congress since she was elected to the Albuquerque seat (NM-01) in 2012. The district includes almost all of Albuquerque and almost all of Bernalillo County, as well all of rural Torrance county and small bits of Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia counties. The district in nearly half Hispanic and has turned safely blue. Obama beat McCain there 60-39% and then beat Romney 55-40%. Hillary beat Señor Trumpanzee 51.6% to 35.1%. Last year's primary was very close but Bernie edged Hillary because of his one point lead in Albuquerque.

Lujan Grisham is running for governor so the House seat is open. Steady with a PVI of D+7, the race has attracted at least 8 Democratic contenders. It looks like all of them or almost all of them are trying to claim the progressive mantle. Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis, who is openly gay, has a progressive history in local politics. Former state Democratic Party chair Deb Haaland seems to be a progressive as well-- and has been endorsed by Ro Khanna-- and she says she will sign on as a cosponsor of John Conyers' H.R. 676 (Medicare-for-All) if she's elected. Damian Lara doesn't mention Medicare-For-All, just protecting Obamacare. Same with Annie Chavez. Dennis Dinge seems to be calling for the states to decide what kind of healthcare they want, the conservative position. A couple others-- Damon Martinez and John Abrams have non-functional websites. The most impressive candidate as far as I can tell is Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. The first line on her issues page is "I support a ‘Medicare for All’ plan and will co-sponsor and champion legislation that truly makes healthcare universally accessible to all."

Sedillo Lopez has been endorsed by 5 dependable progressive signifiers: Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, Jamie Raskin, Maryland State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk and former state Senator Eric Griego, who said she will be the Latina Elizabeth Warren when she gets to Washington. People who know her expect to see another former progressive law professor-- like Raskin and Warren-- inspiring and leading in Congress. Raul Grijalva: "Antoinette will be an ally in the fight for working people, and I am proud to support her. Whether it's protecting DREAMers from deportations or fighting for environmental justice, I know that Antoinette stands for true progressive values."

I think we found a live one-- and we'll be getting to know more about her in coming weeks and report back. (Meanwhile, the Republicans are running some guy named Michael Hendricks.) The only candidates who have raised any significant money so far are Sedillo Lopez ($201,422), Debra Haaland ($151,655) Damian Lara ($87,000-- mostly self-funded) and Pat Davis ($68,211).

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What Keeps Drug Prices So High In America-- A Bipartisan Culture Of Corruption In DC


I wonder if anyone from the DCCC or DSCC will try to figure out the implications

A new poll CBS released this morning shows that only 20% of respondents said they approved of the latest Republican legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Probably in response to badmouthing of Medicare-For-All by Blue Dogs and New Dems-- conservative senators Chris Murphy (CT) and Tammy Duckworth (IL), both former House New Dems, have been publicly negative in recent days-- Our Revolution president Nina Turner said yesterday that "Anyone who does not believe Medicare-For-All can be done needs to get out of the way of those who know it will be done. Duckworth and Murphy are Hillary leftovers who believe if they berate Trump every now and then, people will be fooled into thinking there's something remotely "progressive" about them. There isn't.

Last week a Harvard poll commissioned by Politico showed Democrats overwhelmingly backing Bernie's universal/single-payer approach (Medicare-for All). Among Democrats 80% already back Medicare-For-All (15% oppose), while among independents 67% are on board and 38% oppose. Even among Republicans, 44% are in favor (48% oppose).

Conservatives, mostly Republicans but with help from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, have always built plums into healthcare legislation for the pharmaceutical industry with bribes so many conservatives on both sides of the aisle. The public is sick of it and 89% of Democrats, 87% of independents and even a startling 88% of Republicans say that favor the federal government negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare.

These are the criminals currently in Congress who have worked the hardest to make sure Big Pharma was protected from this reasonable step over the years. First the 10 worst in the Senate:
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)- $2,767,140
Richard Burr (R-NC)- $1,513,262
John McCain (R-AZ)- $1,224,519
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $1,102,122
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- $1,003,106
Patty Murray (D-WA)- $915,797
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $898,566
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)- $883,582
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $874,120
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)- $858,325
And here are the 10 most corrupt in the House, who have conspired with the drug companies to keep the prices of prescription drugs unreasonably high in return for big campaign contributions:
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)- $1,513,561
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $1,408,006
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)- $1,153,155
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $1,133,183
Kevin McCathy (R-CA)- $1,020,625
Erik Paulsen (R-MN)- $1,019,329
John Shimkus (R-IL)- $996,215
Joe Barton (R-TX)- $973,038
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $954,872
Greg Walden (R-OR)- $897,095
Since 1990 the pharmaceutical companies have paid out $202,456,697 in direct bribes to congressional candidates-- $114,826,226 to corrupt Republicans and $86,403,775 to corrupt Democrats. So far this cycle only 4 corrupt House members-- Greg Walden, Paul Ryan, Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Kevin McCarthy-- and 3 Senators-- Orrin Hatch, Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Barrasso (R-WY)-- have been able to shake down the drug companies for 6 figure bribes. But we have a long way to go 'til the end of the cycle. Last cycle Ryan took the biggest bribes to protect drug prices: $395,174; his hatchet man, Kevin McCarthy got $323,650.

GOP plans to pass TrumpCare appear to have been foiled Sunday when Susan Collins (R-ME) announced on Jake Tapper's show that she is following Rand Paul (R-KY) and John McCain (R-AZ) into the NO camp. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is a probable NO as well, giving the anti-TrumpCare forces a little breathing room if Randy Paul worms out of his commitment to oppose it. (Ironically, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee also indicated they would vote NO, for the same reason as Rand Paul... the bill isn't harsh enough.)

One of the bill's sponsors, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was on ABC's This Week yesterday and he told the viewers that he thinks "we’re going to get the votes next week." He insisted that he and radical right lunatic Ron Johnson (R-WI), "who are both on the Senate Budget Committee, would try to force Republicans to continue Obamacare repeal attempts with reconciliation next year.

'We're not going to vote for a budget resolution that doesn't allow the health care debate to continue,' he said." Neither Graham nor Johnson are up for reelection next year, but they have likely killed the reelection chances of Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

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Getting Rid of Equifax


Negligent data-breach victim Equifax ironically warning its corporate customers that their data could be breached

by Gaius Publius

The massive data breach suffered by Equifax, one of the nation's three credit data reporting agencies, caused by what looks for all the world like negligence (see below), has gotten everyone's attention, including the other two credit agencies. Experian is running commercials as we speak offering to help.

But concerns about protecting financial data deal with only half the story. Why do companies like Equifax, TransUnion and Experian exist to begin with?

After all, as many writers have recently pointed out, you the consumer are not their customer — you're their product. It's you and your data that's being sold to their actual customers, anyone who wants it and will pay.

You actually have no financial relationship with any of these companies at all, and they have no — repeat, no — obligation to serve your interest. Equifax, in fact, suffered a prior data breach last March and told no one about. After the most recent breach, their corporate executives sold several million in stock and options before reporting it. And despite the fact that the "fix" for the current data vulnerability was available months before the breach, Equifax didn't install it. Negligence, in other words, but with no possibility of recourse by those injured — you.

Consumers have no rights at all with respect to these companies — no right to forbid them access to their financial data, no right to force them to correct errors, and no right to limit where they sell their collected data (to your employer, for example).

One can only conclude that Equifax — and in fact that whole industry — performs a private service, but no public service whatsoever, and arguably does public harm, all for the profit of its CEO and shareholder class.

Why do they exist at all? The answer lies in their history.

Why Does Equifax Exist?

The reason Equifax exists is revealed by a look into its history. Via writer Bryce Covert at the New York Times (emphasis mine):
Equifax is the oldest of the Big Three credit reporting bureaus, and it got its start as a private investigator in the late 1800s. A client — a business or a bank — would ask it about a consumer, and it would go about digging up dirt on things like marital problems and convictions. That client would then pay it for its services.

This questionable business model raised eyebrows in the 1960s, when the companies were still compiling information on people’s “moral character” such as affairs or drinking problems. At the time, the reports weren’t available at all to the subjects themselves. That changed with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was signed in 1970. But even that reform put virtually no oversight on the bureaus’ practices.

Things haven’t changed all that much. Those who want to dig up dirt via a credit report pay one of the Big Three companies and voilà, they have a dossier of financial information.
In other words, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian exist to "dig up dirt" on ordinary people so people with money can decide what to do with them — whether to loan them money, to employ them, to insure them, to sue them, or not. This industry acts as a protection agency for the wealthy, in that it serves only to protect their wealth.

Equifax et al are like the sleazy private detective loitering about with a camera wherever you go, checking to see if you're seeing someone other than your spouse — except that the dirt these companies are digging up can do much more damage than a divorce. This dirt can keep you unemployed and unemployable for more than a decade.

Are Credit Data Collection Agencies Needed?

The answer to that question is Yes, but they don't have to exist as for-profit companies accountable to no one but their owners and top executives. Collecting credit data can most easily — and accurately — be done be a government agency. It is in fact done by government agencies in the largest countries in Europe.

Covert again:
In at least 40 other countries — including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — credit reporting can be done by a public credit registry. It is usually operated by a central bank that already oversees the financial institutions that feed information into the reports. These reports tend to be more accurate because the operators have a legal right to demand data from banks as well as a mandate to ensure it’s correct and that errors are fixed. Data on late payments and defaults are erased once a consumer has settled up.

Many of these public registries leave out things like medical debt, tax information and personal details like marital status, focusing only on loan amounts. Only about 40 percent of registries collect consumers’ addresses, and two-thirds collect taxpayer IDs — the kind of information leaked in the Equifax breach. [emphasis mine]
The benefit to government taking over this function would not just be greater accuracy, but social responsibility. Do you want your employer — or potential employers — to access your credit data? After all, nothing about your credit data predicts how you will perform on the job. Government control of this function would limit who can request this information to those who actually need it, not those who merely want it.

The Neoliberal Profit-Protection Racket

Of course, the opposition to such a proposal is the same as the opposition to Medicare For All, despite its obvious cost- and outcome-benefit to American citizens. Post-war neoliberals in both parties see the job of government as proactively protecting the profit of large companies and investors (click if you don't see why; the link takes you to an excellent interview with Philip Mirowski, Economics professor at the University of Notre Dame and an expert on this subject).

On the Republican side of the neoliberal sales job, it's called "freedom." On the Democratic side it's called "wealth creation," with the (deliberately false) implication that jobs will follow.

Would the nation be better off without the jobs in the credit reporting industry? Of course; the industry is not that large an employer to begin with, and if they could lay off half of their employees tomorrow and still make money, they would. Every large company in America, in fact, would do the same at the drop of a hat.

In the same way, the nation would be better off without the jobs in the health insurance industry — and there would be one huge added bonus. The net effect of Medicare For All would be a financial stimulus so large that those lost jobs would be more than offset by the giant economic stimulus the nation would experience every year due to the very large net savings — a net increase in each family's bottom line of thousands of dollars per year.

Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for employers to request credit data on employees or prospective employees. A start, but that solves only the edges of the problem. Someone should introduce a bill making credit data collection and reporting a public function.

Any progressive Congress people willing to take that risk and reap the reward in massive public support? Now's the time to step up.


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Imagine If The Democratic Party Had More Candidates Like Randy Bryce And Fewer Blue Dogs!


Randy Bryce-- busy raising campaign funds without taking special interest money

A new poll released by CNN yesterday spells some bad news for the Republican Party. The Party's favorability rating among American voters has crated to it's lowest in history. And the congressional party leaders, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, are widely disliked. Party favorability is now at 29%-- down 13 points from the March poll. The party popularity has never dropped below 30 before.
Overall, 20% of Americans approve of the way Republican leaders in Congress are handling their jobs, while 72% disapprove. That includes just 39% of Republicans who approve of the job GOP leaders are doing.

Republicans are signaling they prefer President Donald Trump's vision for the party, with 79% saying he is taking it in the right direction. A majority of GOP voters -- 53% -- believe Republican leaders in Congress are taking the party in the wrong direction.

That finding comes as approval ratings and favorability ratings for Republican leaders in Congress have dropped. Overall approval of the party's leadership is down to 20%, a new low in CNN polling back to 2008. House Speaker Paul Ryan's favorability has dipped to 32%, a six-point drop since April, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stands at 20% favorability, a seven-point dip since spring.

Both parties will have to grapple with an increasingly unhappy public as nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) say they are angry at both parties, while just 23% say they are not angry at either party. Independents are the most upset, with 68% saying they're angry at both parties-- up 10 points since March. Anger among Republicans has also spiked, with 63% now angry at both parties compared to 38% who said the same in the spring. Among Democrats, anger at both sides is up seven points, to 49%.

...Turning toward next year's midterm elections, Democrats appear to have an enthusiasm advantage as the party tries to win back majority control of the House and Senate. Democrats need to gain 24 seats to retake the House and three in the Senate, though party is facing limited pick-up opportunities there this cycle.

Nearly a quarter of Democrats-- 24 %-- say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting next year, with another 20% saying they are very enthusiastic. Just 14% of Republicans say they are extremely enthusiastic, with another 20% saying they are very enthusiastic about voting.

Democrats also lead in the generic congressional ballot among all Americans by nine percentage points, 50% to 41%, though the midterm electorate traditionally leans more Republican.

Feelings about the Democratic Party are slightly rosier, with 41% holding a favorable view of the party compared to 51% of Americans who say they hold a negative view.
Could the GOP approval ratings go up in time for next year's midterm election? Theoretically, yes. But the GOP has a highly unpopular agenda between now and then and they have a choice between passing legislation most people hate-- like TrumpCare or tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires-- or just accomplishing nothing, the way they have since January. An ABC/Washington Post poll that was also releassed yesterday, indicates that Trump won't be an asset going into the midterms. The public broadly distrusts him on key issues like Korea and feels he's more divisive than he is unifying. Example: 72% of Americans trust the military leaders to handle the Korea situation, while only 37% trust Trump with that job. Meanwhile, Trump's "approval rating is the lowest of any president at eight months in office in polling back 71 years. The public by 66-28 percent says he’s done more to divide than to unite the country, considerably worse than the highest 'divide' scores for his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both 55 percent. And despite his 'drain the swamp' promise, Americans by 59-39 percent say Trump has not brought needed change to Washington, 6 percentage points more than Obama’s worst rating on this gauge, which came after nearly two years in office."

What does this say about the prospects of the Democrats taking back the House in 2018? Plenty. Although the DCCC is making myriad mistakes in their recruitment-- for example, recruiting corrupt conservative Blue Dogs in districts Bernie won-- it is likely the strong wave election now building will trump DCCC incompetence and venality. There are 25 districts with new PVI rankings that now have scores of R+5 or better (for Democrats) and that have moved in the Democrats' favor (or stayed the same), some in districts the Democrats haven't contested in decades. These are Republican-held seats that could be won by good Democratic challengers if the GOP approvals stay the way they are now or slip further, which is even more likely.
Martha McSally- AZ-02 (R+1 from R+3)
Steve Knight- CA-25 (even from R+3)
Ed Royce- CA-39 (even from R+5)
Mimi Walters- CA-45 (R+3 from R+7)
Dana Rohrabacher- CA-48 (R+4 from R+7)
Darrell Issa- CA-49 (R+1 from R+4)
Mike Coffman- CO-06 (D+2 from D+1)
Mario Diaz-Balart- FL-25 (R+4 from R+5)
Carlos Curbelo- FL-26 (D+6 from R+1)
open- FL-27 (D+5 from R+2)
Pete Roskam- IL-06 (R+2 from R+4)
Kevin Yoder- KS-03 (R+4 from R+6)
open- MI-11 (R+4 from R+4)
Jason Lewis- MN-02 (R+2 from R+2)
Erik Paulsen- MN-03 (D+1 from R+2)
Don Bacon- NE-03 (R+4 from R+4)
Leonard Lance- NJ-07 (R+3 from R+6)
Rodney Frelinghuysen NJ-11 (R+3 from R+6)
Steve Chabot- OH-01 (R+5 from R+6)
Ryan Costello- PA-06 (R+2 from R+2)
Pat Meehan- PA-07 (R+1 from R+2)
Will Hurd- TX-23 (R+1 from R+3)
Pete Sessions- TX-32 (R+5 from R+10)
Barbara Comstock- VA-10 (D+1 from R+2)
open- WA-08 (even from R+1)
Goal ThermometerThat's enough to take the House back and doesn't even include several good targets (below R+5) where movement was slightly red or districts with PVIs above R+6 with huge moves in a Democratic condition. Take WI-01, which was R+3 and is now R+5. That's not in our tally although polling shows Paul Ryan is likely to lose his seat. In fact, Blue America is doing a Green Day signed guitar contest this week and you can help Randy Bryce beat Ryan and win a chance to get the Green Day guitar by contributing any amount to Randy's campaign at the thermometer on the right.

And the quality of candidates makes a difference. Men and women like Randy Bryce (WI-01), Katie Hill (CA-25), Derrick Crowe (TX-21), Doug Applegate (CA-49), Jared Golden (ME-02), Dan Canon (IN-09), Jim Thompson (KS-04) can help even the odds in difficult terrain. While the Democrats are drawing multiple candidates in every district, Republican incumbents are retiring and GOP nominees so far this cycle are generally 3rd and 4th tier candidates. Other candidates made videos as good as this one below... but, unlike Bryce, had nothing to back it up with. The DCCC geniuses, who wrote off WI-01 as "not worth the try" should start paying attention to how someone can win rather than doubling down on their longtime specialty-- how to lose races again and again and again by make the same mistakes over and over.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

It's almost October! That means it's not to early to start buying some holiday gifts (eat it, Repugs, I said 'holiday' not Christmas) for your friends and relatives, even that proverbial crazy Republican uncle who hasn't been committed to an asylum, yet. These fine book suggestions may be just the thing! Expect a bound set soon! Don't delay! "Wait What!" is sure to sell out instantly. With a little luck it will become the new "Tickle Me, Elmo" of this holiday season (eat it again, Repugs).

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Germany Had A Placid Election With No Surprises-- But Now There Will Be Nazis In The Bundestag


Angela Merkel didn't start fighting with any German sports stars or call any foreign leaders tacky names when she made her victory speech earlier today. Do you think Germans felt rooked? I doubt it. Things went pretty much as expected. It was her fourth consecutive national win. The German government prevented Kremlin interference and her party won a tepid victory and will now begin putting together a coalition government.

The new German Nazi Party, which calls itself "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) has no deputies in the Bundestag. But everyone knew that that was about to change and that for the first time since denazification in the late 1940s, there will be actual Nazis in the German Parliament. The last poll before voting started (NSA/YouGov), showed the Nazis with momentum, especially in what was formerly East Germany, the most backward part of the country. The poll showed them with the 3rd highest total (13%) behind Angela Merkel's right-of-center CDU/CSU with 33% and the left-of-center SPD (20.5%). In the end the Nazis scored 13.3% (21.5% in East Germany), Merkel's CDU/CSU scored 34.7% and the Labor party fell precipitously to 21.6%. The Greens wound up with 8.9%, Linke, the actual leftist party with 9.2% and the FDP, a business party 10.7%. Any party with over 5% of the national vote is eligible to have delegates in the Bundestag. The Nazis look like they could end up with between 80 and 90 seats in Parliament. Marine Le Pen, head of the French Nazi Party tweeted her congratulations. [UPDATE: The Nazis have wound up with 94 seats in the Bundestag.

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What Ben Jealous Understands


As you know, Blue America's priority is taking back the House and helping to fill it with genuine progressives. This is our main ActBlue page and it's filled with stalwart progressives running for the House, like Randy Bryce (WI), Doug Applegate (CA), Jenny Marshall (NC), Dan Canon (IN), David Gill (IL), etc. But we also help raise funds for Senate candidates, for incumbents, for candidates in districts Trump won, for state legislative candidates... and for candidates for governor. So far we've only endorsed 3 gubernatorial candidates; Tom Wakely in Texas, Daniel Biss in Illinois and Ben Jealous in Maryland. All three are fully-vetted progressives and all three have tough up-hill battles against much better-funded establishment insiders.

Goal ThermometerBut one of them, Ben Jealous, just got a powerful endorsement from the most trusted and popular political leader in the country, Bernie Sanders. Please give it a read and if you agree and want to help elect Ben, consider tapping the brand new Blue America ActBlue gubernatorial thermometer on the right. Ben, like Tom and Dan, is running a grassroots campaign and talking to small dollar contributors, so... if you feel like contributing $10 or $20 isn't manful-- just forget that. These are the candidates who put campaigns together not based on PACs from special interests or from wealthy donors, but from lots of small contributors, like us. Bernie:
These are, to say the least, unusual and unprecedented times for our country. We have a president who is unfit to hold his office, and whose policies are the most anti-working class in the modern history of America.

One of the ways we can most effectively oppose Trump’s right-wing extremism is with strong progressive leadership at the local and state level.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous is one of the great progressive leaders in the United States of America. He endorsed our campaign when it was difficult. He joined our political revolution at the very moment the political and financial establishment in this country was fighting back hardest against us.

Now he’s running for governor of Maryland and it’s our turn to be there for him.

...Ben has always been a very powerful ally of our movement, and he needs our support. Please help him.

Ben Jealous knows a truth that we don’t see too much of on the television. And that is that there is an enormous amount of pain in this country. He understands that there are millions and millions of people right now who are hurting.

Ben understands that people are not making it on $10 an hour and that we’re going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage-- $15 an hour.

Ben understands that in the year 2017, it is unacceptable that women are making 80 cents on the dollar and that we need pay equity.

Ben understands that in a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce in the world and that it is insane that people cannot afford to go to college or are leaving school deeply in debt.

Ben understands, and this has been his life’s work as one of the great leaders of the American civil rights movement, that there is something profoundly wrong when the United States has more people in jail than any other country on earth, and that disproportionately those prisoners are black, Latino and Native American. He has spent decades fighting for real criminal justice reform.

Ben understands, unlike President Trump, that climate change is not a hoax, and as governor of a state that is uniquely threatened by rising sea levels, he is going to work with many of us to transform our energy system to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

And Ben understands that in the richest country in the history of the world, it is long past time that we join the rest of the industrialized world in ensuring that health care is a right for every single man, woman, and child. That is why he is a strong advocate of a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

Lastly, let me say this: I am asking you to donate to Ben’s campaign because we want to elect him governor of Maryland. But I am also asking you to donate to his campaign because our participation and Ben’s victory will send a very powerful message to candidates all across the country.

And that message is that when you stand up and authentically fight for the working class in this country, when you fight for people of all backgrounds, they will stand up and fight with you. That is how we elect progressives to Congress, to governors' mansions, and to state legislatures across the country.

Ben Jealous has always been with us-- please join me and be there for him today. He needs us.

Electing a leader like Ben Jealous would be a tremendous victory not just for our political revolution, but it would demonstrate that our values are on the march everywhere in this nation. That’s why your donation means so much.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

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The American Music Awards aren't supposed to be "political," so when Green Day tweaked the words on their new song, "Bang Bang," adding "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA," it may have caught some viewers by surprise. But not iron worker, union organizer and Wisconsin Green Day fan Randy Bryce. "As usual, Billy Joe Armstrong was just a little ahead of his time," he told us when we talked about the upcoming Blue America Green Day guitar giveaway. "I love bands that express their angst in music."

In tribute to Billie's spirit, I took a sleek black stratocaster guitar (a Fender Squire Bullet Strat) that Green Day autographed for me while I was president of their label and decided to use it to raise some campaign funds for Randy's campaign for the congressional seat Paul Ryan is operating out of. Here's a photo of the guitar, of Randy holding the guitar.

Everyone who contributes here-- any amount-- to Randy Bryce's campaign has an equal chance to get the "thank you" guitar from Blue America. We'll pick one person at random. If you give $1,000 you get a chance to get the guitar. If you give $10 you get the same chance to get the guitar. (Yes, we're Democrats, not Republicans; that's how we roll. In fact, if you don't have the cash to give and you want the guitar, just send a note to us at Blue America, P.O. Box 27201. Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as everyone else.)

Goal ThermometerMany contributors want to know if their contribution will help. There are no guarantees of course, but polling shows that the residents of WI-01 want a new congressmember; Ryan's reelect numbers are only 44%. When residents know who Randy Bryce is and who Paul Ryan is, Randy wins and Ryan loses. The contributions at this stage of the campaign are mostly to make sure voters do know who Randy Bryce is. And you can make a contribution-- and make yourself eligible to win the Green Day guitar-- by clicking on the contest thermometer on the right. Meanwhile, Connor Touhey, in yesterday's Badger Herald points out that, "in large part due to gerrymandering, Speaker Ryan’s margin of victory in the past two elections was massive. His ability to garner national attention as Speaker of the House makes him popular in the state, especially since many see him as a 'moderate' willing to try and work with Democrats to solve problems. On top of that, any perceived threat to such a big name in the Republican Party will undoubtedly bring in millions of dollars in political contributions. Paul Ryan should be unbeatable, but he isn’t. Despite his position of power, the Speaker’s inability to connect with his own constituents makes him vulnerable.
As a U.S. Representative, Paul Ryan’s first responsibility is to answer to the constituents of his district. I am one of those constituents, and trust me, he has no interest in listening to what any of us have to say.

Seriously, try calling his office. Ten times out of ten you’ll sent to voicemail. Ryan recently held his first “Town Hall” meeting back in Wisconsin, except it wasn’t a public event. Those who wanted to attend had to apply, ultimately leaving the decision on attendees in the hands of CNN. It’s antics like these that leave Speaker Ryan so vulnerable.

Being unable to even speak to those you have elected will irritate just about any constituency, but in a place like Wisconsin, where access to our officials is especially important to us, it’s disgraceful. Add in a stagnant legislative agenda despite a national mandate for Republicans, the farce that is the Foxconn deal and his continuing role as the president’s court jester, and Speaker Ryan’s next race might be the closest of his career, if not the upset many are already predicting. All Democrats need now is a quality candidate to speed up this race.

The thing is, Randy Bryce is a really good candidate. As an army veteran, cancer survivor and iron worker, Bryce represents the kind of person many believe Paul Ryan continues to screw over in Washington. His life experiences give him firsthand knowledge of the military, our healthcare system and everyday life as a blue collar worker from a personal perspective.

Consider that Bryce is the ultimate picture of modern rustbelt American, and he may have a fighting chance. No, seriously, go look at a picture of the guy. Bryce often has this steely expression on his face, with a fantastic mustache, hardhat and work clothes to back it up.
And people always ask this, so I'll answer it in advance-- yes, if you want to contribute to Randy's campaign but don't want the guitar, you can do that too-- absolutely! But here's a closeup for the people who do want a signed Green Day guitar.

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