Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blue America Welcomes Back Jeff Merkley


A couple months ago I was flying to DC and the guy next to me was reading Billboard, a music industry trade magazine. Having been in that business for many years, I asked him what he does. And wasn't I shocked to find out he is the lobbyist for a music group and head of their political action committee. We got right down to brass tacks. He thought it would be great if I did an anti-McCain/anti-Bush YouTube of Dylan's "Masters of War"... and urged me to support his good friend, Gordon Smith (R-OR). I pointed out that from his first votes authorizing the use of force against Iraq on October 10, 2002 until Match, 2007 when he supported a tepid, toothless resolution urging Bush to change his policies, Smith had been a lockstep, garden variety rubber stamp for the Bush-Cheney agenda in Iraq. "Oh, he's the nicest neighbor you'd ever want to have, a real family man," the nice music lobbyist replied.

Well, maybe Gordon Smith would make a nice neighbor in terms of not turning up the music too loud, or lending someone a cup of refined white sugar but when it comes to preventing bankruptcy from causing homeowners to lose their houses, Gordon Smith has been a lousy neighbor. And when it came to killing a bill designed to provide low-interest mortgage assistance to working families who suffer the adverse affects of NAFTA and the other horrible, job-killing trade agreements Smith has always pushed, he's also been behind a distinctly bad neighbor policy. Of course in the multimillionaire neighborhoods he frequents, I guess they just love ole Gordon since his policies have been really good for the very rich-- helping facilitate over and over the biggest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very rich in the history of America. And he was at it again yesterday-- making sure those nice high gasoline prices drained middle class families on whatever they've managed to save during the Bush years.

Today Blue America is really excited to make it official and endorse the progressive Democratic Speaker of Oregon's House, Jeff Merkley, for the Senate seat currently occupied by Smith. He's visited with us at FDL before, right after he won a tough primary. Today we want to catch up with the campaign and I encourage you to come over to the FDL comment section and ask Jeff whatever you'd like. If Gordon Smith is a 90% Bush-Cheney Republican serving the interests of the wealthy and of the corporate special interests that have financed his career, Jeff is best known in Oregon as a man who is always on the front line in the battle for middle class and working families.

Smith took over a quarter million dollars in "donations" from the oil companies-- in return for voting for $18 Billion in tax giveaways to them [what a deal!]. According to Jeff "that's really been his only energy policy. A few years ago the Daily Astorian called him a member of the Flat Earth Society because he voted against resolutions acknowledging the existence of global warming and the need to transform our energy policy. Now that he's in an election year he's singing a different tune. That's The Smith: 5 years ultraconservative, one year pretending to be an environmental moderate."

I asked Jeff to draw a clear distinction between the kind of senator Gordon Smith has been and the kind of senator Jeff Merkley will be.
His approach is to ask 'What can I do to make the most powerful companies a little richer.' Essentially you can figure out his votes every single time by looking through that lens. You can figure out where I come from by saying, 'What can I do to help ordinary families thrive: quality education, affordable health care, living wage jobs, affordable housing.' We come from very different places and we fight for very different things.

When you get a chance, watch this video of Jeff giving a stump speech. It'll give you a good idea of who he is, what he's accomplished, and what kind of a senator he will be. If, like me, you think he'll be among the best 3 or 4 members of the U.S. Senate, please join me in contributing to his campaign through our Blue America ActBlue page.

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