Friday, April 18, 2014
Community Blog

Teachers under attack in Kansas!

by UniteBlue on April 6, 2014

UniteBlue Kansas


After repeated delays and under the cover of darkness the Kansas House began debate last night on a bill that would strip teachers of due process, give tax breaks to supporters of private schools, and further decimate public education in Kansas. Hundereds of Kansas Teachers were present and overflowed the house gallery. The House kept delaying hoping the teachers would give up and go home. It didn’t work.

At 2:00 this morning Kansas Democrats stood strong and working with moderate republicans killed the bill. Or so we thought. The Kansas Senate is now poised to take up the bill and the Kansas house will follow suit later tonight. Teachers are streaming back into the capitol to begin another round of watching and supporting public education.

Word is that the bill will be debated as late as possible in the House and Senate in hope that teachers will leave so they can get some sleep before school tomorrow. They don’t like having a bunch of eyes on them.

This is a bill with ALEC and AFP language placed in it verbatim from draft legislation and talking points. A full on conservative attack on education and teachers.

So far House leadership has flipped at least 9 votes overnight with threats of primary challenges and even though senators are not up for election this year, they are getting primary threats as well.

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The Red Lines of Democrats

by UniteBlue on February 26, 2014

Odysseus Bostick


The California Democratic Party is poised to lead the way in our nation’s recovery, both in our economy and our moral compass, but it is on the subject of our moral compass that I write to you today.

As a nation, we are gradually coming to a point in our history where more people value the rights of others than the number of people fighting to erode those rights. Gay marriage stands as the beacon of this social change and the victories we’ve witnessed in this long-fought battle are an indicator of the cultural shifts that are taking hold. All of this is good.

Changes in the Republican Party are actually the tipping point in these victories. As moderate and Tea Party Republicans split on issues like marriage equality, the norms in conservative areas open towards acceptance. The split should be viewed as an opportunity for Democrats, just as it has been an opportunity to provide justice in the rights to marry.

Here in California, we have adopted the top two primary, a potentially invaluable tool that could help us capitalize on these divisions within the Republicans. Though the “jungle primary” practice of awarding the top two vote getters, not just the top vote getter from each respective party, is maligned by many of my fellow Dems as a handicap for our efforts to broadly move forward on our progressive ideals, it is actually a wonderful tool for exacerbating the split within the Republican Party.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party is beginning to debate our best path forward within this new reality of top two primaries and the debate is a good one to have. As our county chairman recently pointed out, the fastest growing party in California is not the Democratic or the Republican Party, but the “No Party Preference” Party. That’s because moderate Republicans and hardline Republicans are dividing their party on a host of issues – voting rights, civil rights, and immigration being their most contentious points of conflict.

The Democratic Party was built upon the concept of inclusion. We are the party that celebrates diversity and embraces the strength of diverse voices. Historically, we have grown because we have demonstrated over time that we authentically believe that when our government or culture attempts to diminish the civil rights of another human being, that we are morally obligated to fight for that person or culture because we are a nation built upon the philosophy of equality; equality in opportunity, equality in our ability to abide by our personal faiths, equality in the right to express our opinions, and the general need for fairness and respect for all.

And so, we stand at a point in time where the Republican Party here in California is at its knees and our own party can either stand idly by and watch as the “No Party Preference” voters grow and eventually form their own party to run against us, or we could open our arms and proselitize. Personally, I believe that we, as the party of diversity and inclusion, would be wise to act on this opportunity and engage in a broad campaign to convert as many of these heathens as possible.

But in that effort, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to fighting for civil rights because our own history as a nation is rife with times and actions that profoundly deprived the civil rights of others. We should be eager to grow our party, yet equally eager to promote the ideals that make us Democrats.

From Jim Crow to workers’ rights to the suffragette movement and throughout the whole pantheon of America’s failure to live up to those lines from the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”, Democrats have been the ones to set aside our own interests and fight for justice.

And so I write this to you today. In the light of our tremendous opportunity to grow as a party, in light of the collapse of the Republican Party here in California, in light of our historical diversity as a party, in light of the opportunity to kick-start a national movement towards progressive ideals as we move to convert the growing masses of “No Party Preference” voters, we must not forget one thing.

We are the party that – first and foremost – has fought for the protection of every human being’s civil rights. And yet, there are currently Democrats running for office both here in California and in red states across the country who have advocated against marriage equality. There are former Republicans who still harbor the idea that marriage is the sole right of a man and woman. This is decidedly not good.

We are a diverse party. There is room within our party for debates on the best fiscal policy, the best education policy, the best defense policy, and the best policy for almost anything.

There is no room, however, for us to compromise on the purity of our purpose. In the face of our tremendous potential to grow, we must root out Democrats who have gone against us on the issue of civil rights, particularly marriage equality, and elect candidates who embrace the very basic idea that denying anyone’s civil rights is the redline in the Democratic Party.

Because acting against someone else’s civil rights comes from a place deep inside a person that is unchangeable. We must not elect them, lest they corrupt our principles with their spite.

This isn’t just a matter of protecting our philosophies. There is a practical reason for shedding ourselves of civil rights violators and using candidate records on gay marriage as a litmus test.

Hardline Republicans are currently pursuing efforts to inhibit the voting rights of others – another precious civil right we must protect at all costs – in the form of overly restrictive voter ID laws.

To achieve victory in this future battle, we must elect and promote Democrats who were able to stand alongside the civil rights of others in the past – especially when it is inconvenient.

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GOP Governors Gotta Go!

by UniteBlue on February 23, 2014


This may surprise you: Congress passed under 60 laws last year, while state legislatures passed over 40,000! The future of this country is increasingly being decided at the state level, and Republicans are slowly expanding their control. Since President Obama first took office, the GOP has picked up eight governorships, bringing their total to 29 states, which hold nearly 184 million Americans.

The results are terrifying. Nearly five million Americans can’t get coverage under Medicaid thanks to their GOP Governors. Our land and water are being treated like private commodities, with devastating plant explosions and chemical spills poisoning our communities. Bills justifying discrimination under the guise of religious freedom are reaching Governors’ desks not only in Arizona, but in South Dakota, Tennessee and Kansas as well. Unions are being dismantled, worker rights are being attacked, minimum wages are falling behind, and collective bargaining is becoming a notion of the past. Soon it will be too late. Fears of voter fraud are being leveraged to justify voter suppression and cement Republican control.

Its time to turn red states blue.

Getting rid of GOP Governors is our sacred duty. They are backed by the money and members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the myriad of Koch-funded nonprofit “social welfare” groups working hard to keep their agenda front and center with unwitting Americans.

We must educate the electorate and draw them away from the hypnotic conservative propaganda on television. It is imperative that we let Americans know that all politics starts at the local level. Do you have your facts ready? Do you have your great photo memes ready to go? Fire it up! Chris Christie and Scott Walker are just the first dominoes to fall…

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Keystone XL: A Sucker’s Deal

by UniteBlue on January 28, 2014

America is being sucker punched. If Keystone XL is approved, the Koch Brothers stand to make $100 billion while the USA is left out in the cold. That’s because oil transported by this pipeline would go through our country, only to be exported worldwide to countries like China. This is a great deal for the oil industry, Koch brothers, China and investors, but a terrible deal for the American people.

via NextGen Climate

Here are the facts.

Keystone XL is designed to help exploit tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Developing tar sands is called the “most destructive project on earth” because of the excessive carbon pollution it produces. Tar sands is one of the dirtiest, costliest, and most destructive fuels in the world. Extracting and refining emits 82% more greenhouse gases compared to conventional oil. This pipeline represents a long-term commitment, locking us into developing more dirty oil when we should tackle climate change.

We cannot treat the Earth like a business in liquidation.

Oil derived from tar sands in Alberta would then be transported by the pipeline all the way to Texas for refining. Unfortunately, Keystone XL would run over a major aquifer that provides drinking water for millions of Americans, along with 630 other bodies of water. Just last week, a TransCanada gas pipeline exploded near Winnipeg, Alberta. These are the folks who we are supposed to trust for Keystone XL.

West Virginia was a blip compared to the disasters we could expect.

The fact is pipeline ruptures happen all the time. Tar sands are more corrosive, toxic, and difficult to clean up than conventional crude. Detection is a huge challenge. The latest technology to detect pipeline ruptures is only successful 20% of the time, and TransCanada has already stated it will refuse to use state-of-the-art detection equipment on Keystone XL. We must stop the transport of 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands in Canada to Texas.

We must stop corporations from poisoning America for a quick profit.

After this dirty source of energy is extracted and transported, it will be exported to other countries. Gulf Coast refiners have already detailed a strategy to their investors to export tar sands oil from Keystone XL out of the United States. As this oil saturates the global market, many states in the Midwest won’t have access. It’s been calculated that Americans in this part of the country could pay as much as 40 cents more per gallon of gas, costing US consumers $3-4 billion per year in higher gas prices.

We should not transport oil through America, then pay more ourselves.

As for Keystone XL creating countless jobs – that’s a joke. As President Obama has stated, “there is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs.” Indeed, the latest reports show Keystone XL would create just 35 permanent jobs.

It is not worth killing our planet to create a handful of jobs.

So where is this push for Keystone XL coming from? Simple: the Koch Brothers own over two million acres of land in Alberta, the source of tar sands oil exported by the pipeline. That’s how they stand to make $100,000,000,000.00 in profit. No wonder over 1,000 reports in support of Keystone XL have been made by think tanks that receive funding from the Koch brothers. Their oil profits go right back into funding climate denial, including Tea Party groups. The scary part is folks believe their lies.

We’re being used. Keystone XL helps the Kochs, not America.

Keystone provides a direct link between Canada and China with no benefit for the United States. The Koch brothers and big oil are happy to help transport dirty tar sands oil and line their own pockets with money. Will we help foreign countries burn more fossil fuels? Will we endanger the globe with accelerated climate change? Are we going to allow them to use America like this? This pipeline takes us in the wrong direction at a time when we must embrace a clean energy economy.

If we do not act now to reduce carbon emissions, we will face irreversible and catastrophic climatic changes. It is our moral obligation to protect future generations from this calamity. We must fight back against big oil and special interest groups that continue to spread misinformation. Now is the time to make our voices heard.

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ALEC is evil.

by UniteBlue on January 21, 2014

For decades, one shadowy right-wing group has helped powerful corporations introduce and pass legislation quietly in nearly every state. They write entire bills from start to finish in a massive coordinated effort to push their conservative agenda at the state level. Their bills attack voting rights, weaken gun control laws, undermine unions, privatize education, block efforts to raise the minimum wage, deregulate major industries, allow unrestricted damage to the environment, and much more.

Yet hardly anyone knows this group exists.

It’s not a conspiracy. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, brings corporate lobbyists together with state legislators. Multinational corporations like ExxonMobil vote on “model bills” designed to increase their profits, then distribute the legislation to mostly conservative lawmakers in state houses across the country. These laws allow employers to skimp on fair wages and health benefits; protect corporations that poison our air and water; and weaken consumers’ ability to have recourse against corporate malfeasance in the courtroom. The oil and pharmaceutical industries have spent millions and made billions.

These are some of the laws ALEC has introduced, just regarding labor rights:

  • “Full Employment Act” would suspend all anti-poverty social programs and require former beneficiaries to work below the minimum wage.
  • “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” prevents cities and counties from setting minimum wages that exceed state or federal law.
  • “Resolution Opposing Comparable Worth” opposes Paycheck Fairness requirements, requiring the government pay men and women equally.

Incredible activists have been dragging ALEC’s operation into the sunlight. Over the past few years, 72 corporations have cut all ties with ALEC under public pressure, including: Walmart, McDonald’s, Visa, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, and Johnson & Johnson.

Quietly, though, Google has become a corporate member of ALEC. Even though their slogan is “Don’t be evil,” the Internet giant has gone firmly in the other direction.

Google has widely mythologized itself as some kind of humanistic techno-pioneer. Obscured in a fog of digital legend is the agenda that more than ever is transfixed with maximizing profits while capitalizing on anti-democratic leverage of corporate power. Google’s involvement in ALEC is consistent with the company’s mega-business model that relentlessly exploits rigorous data-mining of emails, online searches and so much more.

Norman Solomon, Huffington Post.

Google can’t have it both ways. They cannot say “don’t be evil” in public then fund ALEC in private. Voter suppression laws. Union-busting “right to work” laws. Stand your ground. Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070. They all come from the same place, and Google is helping pay the bills. Yet no one seems to know, so let’s raise awareness.

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Announcing the UniteBlue Forum!

by UniteBlue on January 19, 2014

Sometimes 140 characters just aren’t enough. That’s why we’re pleased to announce the UniteBlue Forum.

This is your space for deeper conversations and connections, and we hope it will become a core component of our community in 2014.

What’s your story? What makes you passionate about politics? Introduce yourself to everyone here.

Interested in protecting Obamacare, winning the 2014 elections, reducing gun violence, or renewing unemployment insurance? Folks are already talking.

Are you from Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas or Wisconsin? Coordinators are planning their 2014 strategies, help turn your states true blue.

Not listed above? Learn more about becoming a state coordinator and launch a new state!

At this time, the forum is open to the public, though you must login to write. However, there is a members only section that only verified UniteBlue members can access. This will be a useful space to plan Twitterbombs and other campaigns. Check it out.

Have questions you never got answered? With around 10,000 Tweets sent using #UniteBlue on a normal day, sometimes we miss messages. Now you can get support that won’t be missed.

These are just some areas the new UniteBlue forum touches upon, and its just the beginning. We know you will turn this space into something we never imagined. Its in your hands now.

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Polar Vortex or GOP Politics?

by UniteBlue on January 8, 2014

Diane Straub


The Polar Vortex is a perfect metaphor in which to frame the GOP’s frigid intransigence regarding extending unemployment benefits. The Republican’s icy fingers are wrapped around the throats of millions of American families, choking the life out of them. What happens to people with no income? What happens to their children? How will they be fed, stay warm and attend school? In 2014, America is the best answer we have “figure it out on your own…not our problem?” It seems that is exactly what Republican lawmakers are trying to say. Worse yet, many of them believe cutting off benefits will be instructive to the displaced working poor.

The latest GOP tactic is to hold these benefits hostage over delay the implementation of the individual mandate of the ACA in an attempt to weaken and ultimately destroy the program.

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is seizing the opportunity to refocus attention on Obamacare. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, McConnell suggested that Democrats should agree to a one-year delay in Obamacare’s individual mandate in order to offset the cost of reinstating unemployment benefits for one year.” (ThinkProgress)

The Republicans have no plan for creating jobs in this country. They talk vacuously and incessantly about job creation and job creators and yet refuse to pass any legislation to address the lack of sustenance level employment and the incentivized flow of American jobs to low cost countries. They have voted against bills to bring American jobs back home 19 times. Why? Running factories and offices on slave wages and lack of safety standards maximizes profits for the donors and funders of their party (also known as the 1%).

Extending Unemployment is important from a human, societal and economic standpoint. People use their benefits to purchase goods and services from local businesses. They use their benefits to take care of their homes and families by buying the things that sustain life. They use their benefits to retrain themselves for new realities in the workforce and to conduct their continuing search for sustainable employment.

It is time to let the sanctimonious GOP hear from those that are affected by their cruel and obstructionist games. We all suffer even if we are not unemployed ourselves. The Party of No tries to bill themselves as “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel.” In reality they are “Homicide: Life on the Street” as they callously play the worst kind of political games and foist economic terrorism on the most vulnerable members of our American Family.

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GOP leaves unemployed #OutInTheCold

by UniteBlue on January 7, 2014

The Senate is set to vote on extending unemployment insurance today, in the first of only 113 days Congress is in session this year. Cold weather grounded flights throughout the country last night, delaying cloture.

We hope everyone who is now warm and safe in the halls of Congress took a moment to reflect on their good fortune, and we’re confident the Senate will pass a temporary extension of unemployment insurance to over one million jobless Americans.

Here’s the bad news: the House doesn’t even have renewing unemployment benefits on the docket for January. Republicans certainly plan to be busy doing nothing this year, from allowing the lapse of unemployment insurance, blocking a living wage and cutting food stamp benefits, to ignoring poverty, homelessness and veterans.

Republicans seem to think they need to “teach” personal responsibility by making life harder for everybody else.

The GOP’s agenda for 2014 is to expand tax cuts for the rich, dismantle social services for the poor, then claim Democrats are committing class warfare. They don’t care who they leave out in the cold.

Here are the facts:

  • Unemployment insurance has kept more than 11 million people out of poverty, including 620,000 children in 2012 alone.
  • Because the GOP failed to act, 1.3 million Americans lost unemployment insurance this holiday season.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the economy will lose 200,000 more jobs this year unless we renew unemployment benefits.

Continuing these benefits would not be unusual by any means. Congress has provided emergency benefits to the long-term unemployed during every recession over the last four decades with bipartisan support.

This is not the American way. We do not leave anyone out in the cold.

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Diane Straub


This article by Aviva Shen highlights not only the utter cruelty but also the short-sightedness of Republican austerity policy on the long-term unemployed. Since Republicans and their slash and burn offspring, The Tea Party, bring every consideration down to dollars and cents (not sense) this article points out that their policy of cutting people off from their survival benefits is costing states millions of dollars.

Unlike the Scrooge McDuck “winners” in this austerity economy, those living on survival benefits like unemployment, pump every nickel of their benefit back into local economies. They are not using this money to pad their portfolios and pump up their estates; they are buying food, clothing, gas, rent, heat…the things that sustain life and limb and the things that local small business owners supply in their communities. Take away these benefits and the local businesses that provide goods and services to those who need them find themselves stocked but with no customers. Economics 101 but too nuanced for the party of No (Brains).

“If Republicans refuse to extend benefits, they will likely face backlash from their constituents, particularly in states that are suffering the heaviest economic losses. California lost about $65 million this week. Illinois, Florida, New York, and New Jersey also took eight-figure hits. Texas, which lost nearly $22 million, can thank its senior senator, John Cornyn (R-TX), for blocking a vote to extend benefits twice.”

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/01/03/3117251/unemployment-benefits-expire-state-economies-400-million-loss/

Please share this article on multiple social media platforms. Although as Democrats, we may focus first on people, we still know a good deal when we see one. People having money to buy the things that sustain life, is a good deal for families, for society and for the economy. The citizens of the communities in which we live, work and play deserve far better than this myopic and foolish conservative Randian experiment led by hypocritical demagogues like Ryan and Cruz.

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South Carolina Winter Essay Contest

by UniteBlue on December 15, 2013

Larry Anderson


Essay Contest for Current 12th Graders of South Carolina Public Schools Offered by UniteBlue South Carolina.

Topic: What impact can social media have to “Turn South Carolina Blue”? Are social networks a viable tool? In this digital age, how can technology be utilized more effectively by politicians and Democratic organizations in areas that are traditionally Republican?

Prize: Two tickets of admission to attend the Young Democrats of America’s annual convention in Charleston S.C. from February 28th to March 2nd for currently enrolled South Carolina public high school seniors. For details on the convention please visit this link: http://www.yda.org/charleston-sc-will-host-ydas-winter-2014-national-conference/.

Essay requirements: Essay must be 500-750 words in length, typewritten and double-spaced. Only one entry per student is allowed. Essay deadline is midnight on December 28th, 2013. Essays will be judged for both style and content. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winners will be contacted by email for further information on registration to the conference. All submitted essays may be posted to the UniteBlue Blog and elsewhere.

To Enter: Email your essay to sc@uniteblue.org. Include your full name, contact information, high school you attend and their office phone number.

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