Tag: Maryland

ENDORSEMENT: Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate in Maryland

I proudly and unapologetically endorse Donna Edwards for the open U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)!

Donna is a strong champion of progressive values on a wide array of issues. Donna fought to protect Social Security benefits by taking on President Obama and corporate Democrats in Congress when they tried to cut Social Security benefits, and she’s strongly opposed Republican-backed efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Additionally, Donna is a staunch opponent of big-money politics, and supports amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC. Furthermore, Donna strongly supports common-sense measures designed to end gun violence in America. Also, Donna is strongly pro-choice and pro-equal pay.

Donna’s opposition in the Democratic primary is Chris Van Hollen, a political crony of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer who supported Obama’s plan to cut Social Security benefits. One of Van Hollen’s supporters is Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the Maryland state senate president. Miller said that he thought that Van Hollen was “born to the job” of being a U.S. Senator:

Rep. Donna F. Edwards wants her supporters to know that one of the most powerful Democrats in Maryland backs her opponent in the state’s Democratic Senate primary. In particular, she wants them to know that Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. thinks Rep. Chris Van Hollen was “born to the job.”

“Born to the job?” she wrote Tuesday in a fundraising email. “The fact is, our country’s systems and institutions have largely been led by people who have always looked like that senior elected official, not like me. . . . I don’t believe anyone in this country was born to anything.”

The fact of the matter is that nobody in this country is born to any kind of job, and anyone who thinks that anyone is born to a political office of any kind doesn’t believe in democracy.

Donna marches to the beat of her own drum and fights for progressive values on many important issues, even if it means taking on the leadership of her own party. That’s the kind of strong leadership that Maryland needs and deserves. You can learn more about Donna’s campaign to become Maryland’s next U.S. Senator here.

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47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

My list of America’s top 10 state parks

While our national parks contain some of America’s most prized natural features, some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks are located in state parks. Sadly, our nation’s state parks are often unappreciated by the public and by politicians, as many states have severely cut, or even eliminated, public funding to state parks in recent years.

I’m going to list my ten most favorite state parks in the entire country. In order to qualify for consideration for this list, a “state park” is a park, forest, recreation area, historical site, or other type of area administered by a state government agency that is responsible for the operation of state parks.

#10: Bethpage State Park, New York

Bethpage State Park, located near Farmingdale, New York on Long Island, is not your typical state park. Instead of natural beauty, Bethpage consists of five 18-hole golf courses. Bethpage’s Black Course, one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire country, hosted the 102nd and 109th U.S. Open golf championships in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In addition to golf courses, Bethpage State Park also has a polo field.

#9: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is home to the only publicly-accessible diamond-bearing site: Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Tourists can search for diamonds in 37.5-acre plowed field in the park.

#8: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Located along the Illinois River near North Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is proof that Illinois has some impressive natural wonders. Outcroppings of soft sandstone provide some very impressive geography, including cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls.

#7: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Named after U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Custer State Park includes some of the majestic terrain of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the scenic Needles Highway, and a heard of free-roaming bison.

#6: Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

While Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are located in a federally-administered national forest, you can get an impressive view of the mountains from nearby Lost Dutchman State Park. The park includes desert scenery and hiking trails that lead into the national forest. The park gets its name from the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

#5: Washington Monument State Park, Maryland

Believe it or not, there are actually three monuments to George Washington, our nation’s first president. The most famous Washington Monument is run by the federal government and located in Washington, D.C., and there’s also a Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. However, a lesser-known Washington Monument is located west of Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington Monument State Park. The Boonsboro Washington Monument is the oldest of the three, having been completed in 1827, The monument sits near the top of Monument Knob, one of many peaks on South Mountain, a long ridge that extends from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

#4: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada near Cantil, California, Red Rock Canyon State Park provides some of the most beautiful desert scenery you’ll find anywhere. Cliffs, buttes, and rock formations provide a spectacular landscape that has been featured in many movies.

#3: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida

Located near Key Largo in the Florida Keys is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater state park in Florida. Named after conservationist John Pennekamp, the park features coral reefs and associated marine wildlife.

#2: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

Located near Davis, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park provides some of Appalachia’s most splendid scenery. The park gets its name from the 62-foot Blackwater Falls, where the tannic acid-darkened water of the Blackwater River flows into Blackwater Canyon.

#1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

While Wisconsin Dells and Door County state parks are far more famous, Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park, located near Mellen in the northwestern part of the state, is what I consider to be Wisconsin’s most beautiful state park, and my favorite state park in the entire country. The Bad River and Tylers Forks, a tributary of the Bad River, flow over a series of waterfalls within the park. The park also includes Loon Lake, trails, a campground, and a ton of opportunities for recreation.

State parks provide this country with natural scenery, historical landmarks, and wonderful recreation opportunities. They deserve more funding and public support.

House Democrats push for progressive tax reform

For far too long, the tepid Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill has lacked any real comprehensive plan to overhaul the federal tax code to increase taxes on the wealthy and provide real tax relief to middle-class Americans.

As if someone turned a light on, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland unveiled a progressive tax reform plan yesterday. This plan would repeal tax breaks that benefit the wealthy and institute a new fee on stock trades in order to provide tax relief for middle-class Americans:

Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party’s tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an “action plan” that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class.

The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a “paycheck bonus credit” that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year.

The windfall — about $1.2 trillion over a decade — would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street “high rollers” through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks.

Unfortunately, since Republicans control both houses of Congress, this is going absolutely nowhere for at least the next two years. However, for Democrats to simply advocate such a bold plan is a big step forward towards combating the rampant problem of income inequality in this country and restoring the American middle class.

Tell Congressman Ron Kind to denounce attacks on progressives by his fellow corporate Democrats

Several members of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of pro-greed and anti-middle class Democrats led by U.S. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, are attacking progressive members of Congress for opposing efforts by Republicans and corporate Democrats to repeal financial regulations, enacted by the Dodd-Frank bill, that are designed to protect American consumers from predatory banking institutions.

According to a report by POLITICO, at least three members of the New Democratic Coalition, U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly of Virginia, John Carney of Delaware, and Jim Himes of Connecticut, openly attacked progressives for standing up against Wall Street greed:

Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday over the party’s stance toward Wall Street banks, according to multiple sources at the meeting.

Liberal Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano incensed the moderates when he said if Democrats support rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations, “you might as well be a Republican.”

[…]

At the New Democrat meeting, (House Minority Whip Steny) Hoyer was on the receiving end of impassioned concerns by his moderate colleagues. Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.), John Carney (Del.) and Jim Himes (Conn.) all voiced strong opinions, according to sources in the room.

The 40-member group expressed anger at the liberal faction for name calling and for dismissing their point of view outright. The lawmakers told Hoyer that any future Democratic majority would look more like them than the liberal faction of the caucus.

You can read more about the New Democratic Coalition’s War on Progressives from DailyKos’s own Kerry Eleveld here.

The New Democratic Coalition is not new (they’ve been in existence for nearly two decades as a Congressional Member Organization), and they’re certainly not progressive. They are a group of corporate Democrats who support a pro-Wall Street, pro-special interests, anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-middle class agenda that is nearly as bad as the Republicans’ far-right economic agenda. Most notably, they’re known for supporting deregulation of the banking industry to make it easier for the American economy to crash because of greed and speculation on Wall Street and put American consumers even more at the mercy of predatory banks than they currently are now. Furthermore, New Democratic Coalition members support free trade agreements, such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that drive down wages, move American jobs overseas, and destroy what little of our country’s economic sovereignty remains.

Regarding the New Democratic Coalition’s claim that regaining Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress is only possible by supporting giveaways to Wall Street and other Big Business special interests, that claim is absolutely absurd. Future Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress would, more than likely, be built mostly, if not entirely, by progressive Democrats who champion lifting Americans out of poverty, ending corrupt special interest giveaways, restoring the American middle class, protecting and expanding the social safety net, restoring protections of the American economy, and protecting American consumers, and other progressive, pro-middle class ideals. The only thing that the New Democratic Coalition is doing by openly antagonizing progressives is dividing the party and making it virtually impossible for Democrats to win congressional majorities in its current state.

As I stated above, the Chairman of the New Democratic Coalition is Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin. While it’s not known if Kind himself was part of the attacks on progressives (although Kind did brag on tape about being a key part of the “global trading regime”, as he called it, to enact free trade agreements and ship American jobs overseas), I believe that it is Congressman Kind’s responsibility to denounce the divisive attacks on pro-consumer and pro-middle class progressives by members of the organization that he leads. You can sign an online petition to call for Congressman Kind to publicly denounce the New Democratic Coalition’s attacks on progressives here.