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Progressive Notes: Congress is a “Gutless Body,” DREAMers Press Obama, and Other Goings On..

Art offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.

Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anyone who reads this blog I want them to watch this video and forward it to everyone you know. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)delivers a sweeping powerful speech on behalf of a nation in need. She opposed the Wall St. bailout bill because it gave nothing to Main St. Now she speaks against the agriculture bill which will cut food for 350,000 women and children. She speaks against the banks and Wall St. who make big profits while the GOP House slashes funding for those so vulnerable.

Something is very wrong with this nation’s leadership and she goes there. Kaptur reads letters from the starving in her district. Takes the companies to task and more. Her words that Congress is a “gutless body” speaks for the people. Thank you Rep. Kaptur:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NjS4Uo8F2R8

The Progressive Caucus is touring the nation for the People’s Budget and holding forums with folks. Here is their first in Minneapolis MN June 18th. Wow looks great. The people are getting restless for change:

Key Progressive Caucus figure Congresswoman Woolsey won’t run in 2012. Despite my criticism of some of her handling of the healthcare debate for progressives i.e. not pushing single payer as bargaining start point, she is one of the most potent voices in congress for the poor. Woolsey herself was once on welfare and is the only current member of congress who was on welfare.

Her voice against the Iraq War for day one grew in power and she joined Murtha into a coalition to end the war. Woolsey speaks with moral authority on cuts made to social programs because she once needed them and used them. No other member of congress has this unique perspective.

Congressman Gutierrez (D-Il) is launching a campaign in the Latino community to pressure Obama to use executive power to prevent deportations of illegal immigrants:

In a meeting with bloggers last week, longtime immigrant rights advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said President Barack Obama should not count on Latinos to vote for him in 2012 unless he takes executive action to stop some deportations.


In a frank discussion with bloggers at the progressive conference Netroots Nation, Gutierrez said he will encourage Latinos to withhold votes from Obama unless the president uses his discretion.

The main demand is to block deportation of families and young men and women who would benefit from the DREAM Act, a failed bill that would have allowed some undocumented people who entered the U.S. as children to gain legal status and attend college or join the military.

Gutierrez, who carries considerable clout among Latinos, is touring the country under the banner “Change Takes Courage” to rally support for administrative relief from deportations.

He said in order to win support, Obama should create deferred action or parole for DREAM Act-eligible young people, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. until Congress acts on immigration reform. Instead, the administration often carries deportation proceedings to nearly the last minute, then allows an immigrant to stay after public outrage.

“They stop the deportation when you do a little petition. When Change.org does a petition and gets a few hundred signatures, they stop the deportation,” Gutierrez said. “Don’t tell me you ain’t got the power.”

He brings up 2007 Obama:

Gutierrez said the first sign of Obama’s triangulation strategies on immigration came in 2007, when the then-senator voted for a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

Latino leaders in Illinois were furious, and Gutierrez said Obama called him for an explanation.

“I should have known something then,” he said. “He didn’t get it, but he said to me, ‘I’ve got to show the Republicans that I’m someone that they can work with.’ It’s still the same person.”

The problem, Gutierrez said, is that Obama continues to court Latino votes despite failing to follow through with immigration reform, which polls consistently list as among the top five issues for Latino voters.

Rep. Gutierrez is not concerned about telling Latinos to withold their votes from Obama if he does not make moves on immigration reform. Why? :

“It’s always the same conversation: If we do too much it will hurt Obama?” he said. “Civil rights and human rights movements cannot be so closely aligned with parties because they’re going to eventually have contradictions. I think of Rosa Parks and I think of her getting on that bus and saying, ‘Will this upset the Speaker?’ … They didn’t think about what was going to happen to a particular party. They moved.”

Had enough of Afghanistan? So has America and revolt is growing fast in Congress. Obama thought he could throw out a breadcrumb of removing 30,000 troops soon, but we would still have more troops there than when Bush was in office. So Congressmen McGovern and Jones keep pushing to end this war. They almost in fact forced Obama to withdrawal in short order a month ago, but their bill failed by a few votes. Now its on:

At an event today sponsored by the Center for American Progress, McGovern and Jones said President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan he announced last night does not go far enough. “We need to get all the troops out of Afghanistan sooner than 2014, because 2014 will become 2015 and so on, and it will be a never-ending exit date,” Jones said.

In an interview with Think Progress after the event, both lawmakers stressed that they’re not giving up their efforts in Congress. “I think the anti-war movement in Congress is going to continue to grow and intensify,” McGovern said. Jones said he’s optimistic that he can peel away more Republicans to their side:

JONES: Republicans are beginning to understand that trying to police the world, you can’t pay for it. That’s what Republicans are beginning to understand. [...] What I’m trying to do on our side is to get more Republicans to join on the bill. Because that in itself sends a signal. But I believe, as Jim said, we’re not going away. [...]

TP: Are there a lot more Republicans talking to you privately?

JONES: Oh yeah.

Congressman Garamendi (D-Ca) is pushing for an end to this war. He warns if Obama doesn’t heed the calls of the nation and congress on rapidly withdrawing:

“he’s [Obama] going to have a revolt in Congress. Congress has had it.”

Governor Perdue of NC did it! She vetoed the voter ID the GOP passed. Hundreds of thousands would have lost their right to vote by having to try and get an ID due to distance from the DMV, work, disability, you get the picture. And looks like this time the GOP won’t be able to override her veto:

“Perdue’s veto is likely to succeed, rather than be overridden. The CBS affiliate in Raleigh points out that while the bill had passed the state Senate by a veto-proof margin, it had in fact only passed the state House by a margin of 62-51, short of the 72 votes that would be needed to override the veto in that chamber.

Perdue’s full veto message:

Governor Perdue Vetoes House Bill 351
Calls on Legislature to Pass Bill that Protects Votes Instead of Taking Them Away

Gov. Bev Perdue today vetoed House Bill 351 and issued the following statement:

The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have – both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right.

“We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it. This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters. The legislature should pass a less extreme bill that allows for other forms of identification, such as those permitted under federal law.

“There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.

“Therefore, I veto this bill.”

Van Jones, along with many other orgs, are launching a anti-austerity group to counter the Tea Party. And it sounds promising to me:

Along with MoveOn, some of the most influential groups in the progressive community have signed on to the “Dream” campaign, including the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Campaign for America’s Future and the Center for Community Change.

..The goal is to move beyond dependence on President Obama and the national Democratic Party by building and boosting independent sources of power, which can then persuade elected officials to support a progressive economic agenda. David Dayen of Firedoglake summarized this nicely after watching Jones’s speech at Netroots Nation:

It’s also a moment to create a movement based on principle. In a very telling moment in Jones’s PowerPoint presentation, he described how the issue groups filtered up to the Obama meta-brand in 2008, and in one move, he wiped out Obama from the picture in favor of the American Dream Movement. In other words, an icon or a symbol of progress won’t cut it anymore. The movement is sustained not based on an individual but on an idea. It’s a movement that says “I support Democrats when they support me.” It’s the only way for a movement to endure, rather than become subservient to a personality. And we’ve seen proof of this just this year in places like Wisconsin and Ohio.

The first step, Jones says, will be to create a giant crowd-sourced document and hold thousands of house parties over the summer to solicit ideas for a new “Contract for the American Dream.” The coalition will then use that document as an organizing and activism tool, pressing elected politicians to support the “Dream” agenda, possibly as early as over the August Congressional recess. These efforts will be bookended by the national Take Back the American Dream Conference in October. Maybe by that point, Washington will start to take notice.

The Senate HELP Committee heard testimony from real America, the broken middle class. the testimony was potent and moved the room and senators- a few that is. The Dems on the committee attended and only one Repub did- Sen. Enzi. The Senate is so dysfunctional nothing can pass it appears. Voices must be heard as they were this week:

“Families who are scraping by every day see no real relief in sight,” Amanda Greubel, an Iowa mother of two, told a roomful of US senators Thursday morning. “We hear that corporate welfare continues and CEOs get six-figure bonuses at taxpayer expense, and we look across the kitchen table at our families eating Ramen noodles for the third time this week…. We know that money talks around here, and that means you don’t hear us.”…

Greubel and her husband work for the public school system in DeWitt, Iowa, and both had their salaries reduced during recent state spending cuts. She tried to convey to the committee the real effect it had on her family. “The loss of that income required a complete financial, emotional, and spiritual overhaul in our family,” Greubel testified, describing shopping trips to Goodwill stores and discount supermarkets, and cold cereal for her children at dinnertime. “We did everything that all the experts said we should do, and yet we’re still struggling. When you work as hard as we have and still sometimes scrape for the necessities, it really gets you down.”

The GOP has slashed funding for food programs, tried to eliminate WIC while Biden and these same monsters are attempting a insane debt ceiling deal. We must keep fighting these forces no matter what.

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