Thursday, September 29, 2011

We all should share critical government operation concerns

At the beginning of every day of session in both the US House and the US Senate, a clergy person leads prayer. This venerable custom has been practiced with our elected officials for many years. These prayers aren't long, and they serve spiritual needs of our representatives and their staff.

It seems to me that most Americans don't actively communicate with their government officials when they see operationally relevant breaches occurring in the capitol. We seem to give them a pass, as if the government isn't composed of precious human beings with souls.

Yet, most of us have seen activity-- some perpetually driven-- such as: 1) neglecting unsatisfied basic needs of the poor, 2) disrespecting duly elected Pres. Obama's beliefs and authority, 3) lacking empathy for other legislators' arguments, 4) executing the death penalty on a man not proven guilty, 5) accepting, during session, business campaign contributions, 6) lacking care and regulation for our environment, 7) disdaining fiscal responsibility for our federal budget, 8) disrespecting our founding legal documents, 9) trespassing against other nations, and 10) preferring personal ideology over the nation's interest.

Regardless of the personal spiritual state of each of our elected officials-- even those who comprise our nation's highest level of government-- we, their constituents, have an absolute mandate to share with them our critical operational concerns. Easy-to-use tools for engaging with our own representatives are readily available on the internet; and those citizens without the internet can reach them in several ways.

Let us share with our government representatives any concerns over important capitol practices, even if we can only do so by minor acts of nonviolent disobedience, for they are constitutionally mandated to represent each one of us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Poem for goodness and justice renewal: "Come on, come out!", by David Weller

To the Occupy movement and all those willing and able to bring into renewal a society of goodness and justice...

Come on, come out!
by David Weller

Come on, come out!

Wherever you are!
be in our place,
a nation's star!

Come on, come out!

Whoever you be!
you are our might,
right with a glee!

Come on, come out!

Whenever you can!
time's not for talk,
time's your best fan!

Come on, come out!

Whatever you do!
come, with fervor,
come with your view!

Come on, come out!

However you will!
you are our light,
fight with your skill!

Come on, come out!

Why, you are brave!
the future is ours,
love's what you have!

Come on, come out!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Legal tips for protester engagement with police in New York City

ACLU:  Blog of Rights
From:  NYCLU on the Scene at Wall Street Protests  |  Posted by Jennifer Carnig, New York Civil Liberties Union  |  Comments open.

  • Inspired by the Arab Spring, a group of a few hundred protesters have occupied a park right off of Wall Street for more than a week, seeking attention for what they call a greedy and unjust financial system.  The staff of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has been on the scene talking to protesters, learning about their experiences with police, and passing out Know Your Rights guides on protesting in New York City and on surviving police encounters.
    • Interested in joining them? Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re protesting in New York City:
      • You have a right to stand or march on sidewalks without a permit.
        • You may photograph or video the cops, but do not interfere with police action.
          • Remember officers’ badge numbers, names and physical descriptions.
            • File complaints about misconduct by calling 311.
              • If you march in the street without a permit, you risk arrest.
                • If ordered to disperse, do so unless you want to be arrested.

                The ACLU-- American Civil Liberties Union-- has a strong history of legally assisting people, both before and after any possible incidents with the police.  Also, remember that training in protester nonviolence techniques helps relations with police during tense situations.  Be safe and respectful!

                Saturday, September 24, 2011

                Haiku poems on good government and good politics, by David Weller

                On good government and good politics
                by David Weller

                To be ideal
                is what we are striving for.
                Otherwise, no deal.

                time is on our side,
                just as the stars swing the sky,
                just souls you and i

                even a full moon
                has light on its other side
                stars are everywhere

                vote for the one who
                has the least hair and most jokes
                he/she will be wise

                Constituents want
                more than the 4th of July
                they want the whole pie!

                citizens relate
                to their representatives
                when they are like us

                equal access means
                not only more listening--
                it's comprehensive

                frankness, not boldness
                breaks the ice of cleverness
                into true witness

                debates are to be
                held, not for rhetoric,
                but application

                blessed be the poor
                the homeless, the disabled,
                yes, the neediest!

                Save, love knows no dire consequences

                Thursday, September 22, 2011

                How to contact your own representatives

                One of the most important of the government reform NGO's in our nation's capital is the venerable Common Cause.  They are all about how people can improve our nation's democracy, and they fight the good fight against Washington's latest ethics breaches.

                In deference to their perfectly complete article, I encourage you to go to Common Cause Georgia's recent post entitled "Tell 'em what you want."  It concisely lays out what you need to know before making that call to your elected official about a critical issue or problem.

                It's written by their interns Lindsay Jacobs and Rachel Bradley and accepts comments.

                Wednesday, September 21, 2011

                The constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United is now a bill-- please take action!

                Common Cause: Common Blog
                From: House Democrats push legislation to overturn Citizens United ruling  |  Comments are allowed.

                • A pair of House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that freed corporations to spend unlimited money on elections.
                  • Read the full text of the bill, H.J.RES.78.IH, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.

                  This is one, if not the most important reform bills now being legislated in Washington.  Please, do your part and take action by calling or visiting your own congress members (US Representative and both US Senators) and requesting them to "support the constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling".  Thank you

                  Tuesday, September 20, 2011

                  Successful online, local-level citizen civic engagement with city council members

                  This is interesting, in that it is a forum / email list of Minneapolis area residents, that have asked for and have received detailed responses from their city council members on local problems.  I can see this happening in neighborhoods and cities across the nation. has many years of experience on the internet enabling local citizen forums such as the one referenced below.

          Project Blog
                  From: Where there is smoke there is noise … Neighbors and Online Civic Engagement  |  Written by Steven Clift  |  Comments are allowed

                  • We’ve added neighborhood level engagement with “community life” exchange to our classic city-wide online town halls.
                    • Check out these recent passionate community discussions on airport noise (89+ posts) in Standish Ericsson and recreational fires and smoke (55+ posts) in Longfellow.
                      • Every local elected official, everywhere should be part of an online space that makes this happen. (And not just some surface-level Facebook page that cuts you off with a paragraph or two or some puff your chest out political tweets.)

                      For details and on how to reach author Steven Clift, please go to the E-Democracy post.

                      The US Open Government Action Plan has new civic engagement tools and Administration openness improvements

                      From: US National Open Government Plan is a Major Step for Participation & Open Government | By Carolyn Lukensmeyer, AmericaSpeaks | Comments are allowed

                      • President Obama formally unveils the US Open Government Action Plan in a speech today to the General Assembly of the United Nations, demonstrating the United States’ commitment to the newly created International Open Government Partnership.
                        • This is the biggest step forward for the cause of participatory government in the United States since the launch of the Open Government Initiative itself when the President first took office.
                          • First, the White House is launching WeThePeople, a new e-petition platform that will enable anyone to create a petition articulating a specific policy priority, mobilize their community to sign the petition, and find support from others on the site.  The White House will direct popular petitions to the appropriate policymakers, provide an official, public response, and act on some of these most popular proposals.
                            • The President is also committing to make it far easier for the public to participate in the rulemaking process online through
                              • This document includes the White House’s commitment to play a much more active role in advising, supporting, and monitoring agencies’ implementation of the Open Government Plans.  The administration has pledged to develop a shared set of best practices and metrics for public participation:
                                • Another potentially significant action step is the creation of ExpertNet, a platform and community where citizen-experts can offer ideas and solutions to key challenges faced by government officials.  This concept remains vaguely defined, and but if the platform is implemented well, it could become a meaningful channel for public participation in government problem-solving and decision-making.
                                  • Finally, The Administration is pledging to make significant and needed improvements to government websites.  The thousands of government websites are incredibly diverse in terms of the stakeholders and users they are aimed at, not to mention their purposes and functionality.  We would recommend that the administration convene web managers, users, and stakeholders in a live online dialogue in a virtual summit where they can understand the key issues at hand, discuss them with others coming from different perspectives, and vote to identify priority action steps to enhance the value of federal websites.
                                    • In short, today marks a very important milestone for those of us who believe that government should be more open and that the public can and should play a significant role in shaping policy beyond merely voting every few years.
                                      • Please share this post with those in your networks who care about open government and about citizens’ role in our democracy!

                                      Monday, September 19, 2011

                                      A good introduction to deliberative public politics

                                      Kettering Foundation
                                      Entire article: WE HAVE TO CHOOSE: DEMOCRACY AND DELIBERATIVE POLITICS

                                      We Have to Choose is a working draft Kettering report designed primarily for civic organizations, centers, and institutes that sponsor deliberative forums and/or prepare people to conduct such forums. This report attempts to help these organizations find a pedagogy or way to explain deliberation, which has to be learned but can’t be taught through instruction alone.  
                                      Public deliberation can’t be confined to formally organized forums. And democracy can’t be confined to collective decision making, even if it is done by deliberative means. Kettering has realized that democracy exists at two levels. The more obvious one is at the institutional level, where there are legislatures, executive agencies, and courts.  
                                      Underneath, there is an organic foundation of ad hoc associations and civic organizations. At the institutional level, citizens are defined by their relationship to government. They are voters, taxpayers, and school board members. At the organic level, citizens are defined by their relationship to other citizens. They are the people who join with others to create a neighborhood watch, to organize a campaign to protect the environment, or to conduct rescue operations after a hurricane. 
                                      The democracy that public deliberation serves is primarily organic, yet it isn’t indifferent or antagonistic to representative government. At the organic level of democracy, collective efforts are made to deal with problems that can’t be solved unless the citizenry acts. This collective action requires a particular kind of decision making because the problems aren’t just technical; they have a normative or moral dimension. Protecting the health of the American people is an example; citizens have an important role to play, and issues like the care of the terminally ill raise all kinds of moral questions.  
                                      Such problems grow out of a discrepancy between what is happening and what people want to happen. What makes these problems especially difficult are disagreements about what should be happening. There aren’t any experts who can tell citizens what should be; they have to exercise the best judgment they can. And the best way to make sound judgments is by weighing possible causes of action against the various things people consider valuable or believe should be. That is deliberation in a nutshell.  
                                      Although a means of making decisions, public deliberation can’t be isolated from what happens before and after a decision is made. Before citizens will make decisions, they have to see a connection between their concerns and political issues. This begins to happen (or doesn’t begin) with who names the problems and the way they are named or described.  
                                      If the name of a problem doesn’t resonate with what people consider valuable, they lose interest. The same happens, or fails to happen, when options are put forth to deal with a problem. Unless all the options are put on the table and each is presented fairly, with both the pros and cons spelled out, people back away, feeling manipulated. And if the options for action don’t include anything for citizens to do, they feel sidelined—they feel that they can’t make any difference.  
                                      All of this, including the way citizens implement their decisions and evaluate the results, are deliberative public politics, writ large. Because this kind of politics involves more than decision making, forums can’t be understood without taking into account what happens outside the rooms where they are held. That is true even if the purpose of the forum is purely educational. Forums are a staging area, not the whole stage. 
                                      And public deliberation also introduces distinctive values into politics. Deliberation has to be nonpartisan, yet it is not value neutral. It values democracy and assumes that citizens have the capacity for effective collective action. It not only puts a premium on respect for the opinions of others but also on fairness and the good of all.  
                                      TO ORDER PUBLICATIONS
                                      Phone: 1-800-600-4060
                                      Fax: 1-812-333-4218

                                      Book is to be published on public deliberation as a part of democratic politics

                                      National Issues Forums
                                      From: A message from David Mathews
                                      The following is a reflection by David Mathews, president of the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio.

                                      • Deliberation is a term for the collective decision making that has always been integral to politics. Deliberative decision making is not a special or separate technique but rather a component of collective action, which nearly always involves coming to terms with disagreement and conflict. Similarly, public deliberation is an integral part of democratic politics.
                                        • In the near future, the Kettering Foundation Press will publish a new book, Democratizing Deliberation: A Political Theory Anthology, on the nature of deliberation and its role in politics. Derek Barker, Noëlle McAfee, and David McIvor are coeditors.

                                        This National Issues Forum post was published in July, 2011.  As of today, Democratizing Deliberation doesn't appear to be on the market, yet.

                                        Book says growing income inequality means more social ills

                                        National Issues Forums: Blog
                                        The Growing Gap between the Haves and Have Nots; Comments allowed.
                                        Is Income Inequality Harmful to American Communities?
                                        • A recent book published by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett titled, The Spirit Level (2009), has created quite a stir in countries across the world. The central premise of the book is that societies or communities that are more equal often do better on a wide array of socioeconomic measures – be they health, education, crime, trust, and social mobility. In essence, people from the same social strata with the same set of quality of life attributes do better in societies that are more equal than those associated with greater income inequality.
                                          • Consider the following facts from a recent article we prepared for Daily Yonder (April 2011): The wealthiest 10% of metro counties in the nation had an average per capita market income increase of nearly 70% between 1980 and 2008, contrasted to a 38% increase for counties located at the 10% lowest income tier. Rural counties are growing more unequal, but their income inequality is less than in metro areas. The increasing gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” appears to be associated with higher rates of crime, teenage birth rates, adult and child poverty, and more.

                                          Collaboration for social change

                                          NCoC- National Conference on Citizenship
                                          When addressing public problems, is our goal always building consensus or finding common ground? Should it be? A Civic Connector Commentary by Bobbi Silten; Comments allowed.

                                          • Collaboration can be powerful in developing solutions for community challenges, but it also requires an investment of time, a willingness to find common ground, the patience to work through differences, and leadership. Lots of leadership.
                                            • I have found that the best way to have collaborations work is to understand both the collective goal as well as the individual goals of the people and/or organizations that are involved. While we all work toward our shared goal, the leadership of a collaborative also needs to be mindful that all the partners are getting something they need out of the collective effort as well. For some, the motivation may purely be the shared objective and for others it may be a balance between the collective and their own organizational goals.
                                              • Collaboration is not always easy, but it plays an important role in realizing social change. And if we need to change the system, we need to work together.

                                              This is an open forum question for their post.

                                              Report says more civic engagement means less unemployment

                                              Huffington Post: Peter Levine
                                              Could Civic Engagement Be the Key to Economic Success? Comments allowed.

                                              • My colleagues and I are concerned about civic engagement: voting, volunteering, belonging to and leading groups, attending meetings, and working with fellow citizens to address problems. Those activities are now measured annually by the federal Current Population Survey. So we included them in a statistical model along with major eight economic factors to see what explained changes in unemployment best.
                                                • We found that the civic measures were strongly related to changes in employment from 2006-2010, but none of the economic factors was associated with employment to a statistically significant degree. Please see Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy, released [Sep 16th, 2011].
                                                  • In short, the more civic engagement, the less unemployment. Particularly valuable forms of engagement seemed to include volunteering, working with neighbors, group membership, meeting attendance, registering to vote, serving as a group officer, and contacting public officials.

                                                  Also worth noting: it has been shown that formerly incarcerated felons who vote in elections have a lower recivitism rate (they are less likely to return to prison.)

                                                  Sunday, September 18, 2011

                                                  Poem in honor of nonviolent patriots: "Love is Won", by David Weller

                                                  In honor of the Americans and supporters making personal sacrifices for a better country.  We all may not make it to Wall Street or Washington Park, but our hearts and minds are with those who can.

                                                  Love is Won
                                                  by David Weller

                                                  love is creedence,
                                                  love is true
                                                  nothing is defense,
                                                  nothing to hew

                                                  love is pointed,
                                                  love is able
                                                  everyone's annointed,
                                                  everyone's capable

                                                  love is action,
                                                  love is kind
                                                  there is no faction,
                                                  there for to find

                                                  love is appreciated,
                                                  love is cared
                                                  winning's all capacitated,
                                                  winning's all well fared

                                                  Friday, September 16, 2011

                                                  Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience"

                                                  Oxford Dictionary of Politics: Henry David Thoreau

                                                  • (1817-62) American essayist. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College. Thoreau is famous for having coined the term civil disobedience. His most powerful and influential political essay, ‘Civil Disobedience’, originally published under the title ‘Resistance to Civil Government’ (1849), exalts the law of conscience over civil law. Incensed by the Mexican War (1846-8) and the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850, which ensured federal assistance to slave-catchers, Thoreau became concerned with widespread personal complicity in injustice. As a public act of protest against the Mexican War, Thoreau refused to pay his poll tax and was imprisoned overnight. 1854 Thoreau published Walden, or, Life in the Woods, a plea for simplicity in everyday life.  — Vittorio Bufacchi

                                                  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
                                                  Henry David Thoreau

                                                  • Thoreau was an activist involved in the abolitionist movement on many fronts: he participated in the Underground Railroad, protested against the Fugitive Slave Law, and gave support to John Brown and his party. Most importantly, he provides a justification for principled revolt and a method of nonviolent resistance, both of which would have a considerable influence on revolutionary movements in the twentieth century. In his essay on “Civil Disobedience,” originally published as “Resistance to Civil Government,” he defends the validity of conscientious objection to unjust laws, which ought to be transgressed at once. Although at times it sounds as if Thoreau is advocating anarchy, what he demands is a better government, and what he refuses to acknowledge is the authority of one that has become so morally corrupt as to lose the consent of those governed. “There will never be a really free and enlightened State,” he argues, “until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly” (“Civil Disobedience”). There are simply more sacred laws to obey than the laws of society, and a just government—should there ever be such a thing, he says—would not be in conflict with the individual conscience.

                                                  Thoreau Reader

                                                  Civil Disobedience  Originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government" By Henry David Thoreau - 1849 - with annotated text
                                                  Desobediencia Civil - Spanish translation by Hernando Jiménez

                                                  • While Walden can be applied to almost anyone's life, "Civil Disobedience" is like a venerated architectural landmark: it is preserved and admired, and sometimes visited, but for most of us there are not many occasions when it can actually be used. Still, although seldom mentioned without references to Gandhi or King, "Civil Disobedience" has more history than many suspect. In the 1940's it was read by the Danish resistance, in the 1950's it was cherished by those who opposed McCarthyism, in the 1960's it was influential in the struggle against South African apartheid, and in the 1970's it was discovered by a new generation of anti-war activists. ...

                                                  Thursday, September 15, 2011

                                                  We can all be Devout Citizens today

                                                  From: No Labels (entire article, written by Arthur Bushkin)
                                                  What We All Can Do

                                                  On 9/11/2001, our nation was united with the spirit that “We Shall Overcome.” Now, a decade later, we live in a toxic, shouting, angry national environment. And, not just in our political lives, but everywhere we turn. How did this happen, and what can we do to change it? 
                                                  We know that we must be politically involved, and that we should vote. Nonpartisan organizations, like No Labels, countless issue groups and even President Obama all encourage us to contact our representatives. But what else can we do? 
                                                  How can we be Devout Citizens? How can we live our lives as models for what we want our families, our groups and organizations, and our nation to be? 
                                                  To be Devout is to respect the values and interests of others. To be Devout is to be passionate and compassionate. To be Devout is to have a higher purpose in one's life than merely one’s daily existence. To be Devout is to be committed to a cause or belief. To be Devout is to seek common ground for the common good. 
                                                  A Devout Citizen avoids simple slogans and responses to the complex challenges of today. A Devout Citizen seeks to learn more and to understand the competing interests that must be balanced. 
                                                  A Devout Citizen understands that no one can have their way all of the time, not political leaders and not ordinary citizens. Sometimes, we must follow. Sometimes, we must trust others to make decisions for us, and we must respect their judgment. Without followership, there can be no effective leadership. 
                                                  A Devout Citizen creates space for conversations. In a world of instant communications, the ability to be heard does not automatically mean that one’s views will be respected or that one’s wishes will be followed. The right to be heard does not mean that one’s views are right. 
                                                  A Devout Citizen sets a noble example for others to follow, and follows the noble examples of others. A Devout Citizen seeks the common good by building a Devout Community of noble examples. 
                                                  It is time to put aside more than our labels; we must also put aside the idea that the solution to our problems lies with “them.” To think that if only “they” would compromise, seek common ground, and work in the best interests of everyone, is to miss a larger point. We are all part of the “they.”
                                                  We are all part of the problem, and we all can be part of the solution. We all create the society in which we live, and we all can make it better. We all can be kinder and more caring, more thoughtful and more respectful. We can all be Devout Citizens in a Devout World. 
                                                  Arthur Bushkin is a writer, philanthropist, and social activist. His principal cause is Harnessing the Power of Technology for Social Good, and he actively promotes K-12 Open Educational Services.

                                                  Tuesday, September 13, 2011

                                                  How to effectively advocate for your issue in our two party system

                                                  From: Advocacy Associates
                                                  The Two Party System and What It Means for your Advocacy

                                                  • how you can overcome the challenges posed in our system and effectively advocate for your issue
                                                    • DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED
                                                      • Use the power of Constituency
                                                        • Persistence is key
                                                          • Find like-minded individuals
                                                            • Lastly, gain support from larger groups to endorse your issue

                                                            The Advocacy Associates' post includes some insights on each of the five tips; its author is experienced dealing with such problems in his work on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail.  And, he published this article about possible reformers to help the two party system.

                                                            New book out Jan 31 on political control of the Internet

                                                            From: RConversation
                                                            Consent of the Networked: Coming January 31st, 2012!

                                                            • Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom will be published by Basic Books on January 31st.
                                                              • Amazon is already taking orders. Click here for other ways to buy the book. As the publication date approaches, updates about other ways to buy the book (including e-books), related articles, links, and information about my speaking schedule will be posted on as well as the book's Facebook page
                                                                • A global struggle for control of the Internet is now underway. At stake are no less than civil liberties, privacy and even the character of democracy in the 21st century.
                                                                  • Many commentators have debated whether the Internet is ultimately a force for freedom of expression and political liberation, or for alienation, and repression. Rebecca MacKinnon moves the debate about the Internet’s political impact to a new level. It is time, she says, to stop arguing over whether the Internet empowers individuals and societies, and address the more fundamental and urgent question of how technology should be structured and governed to support the rights and liberties of all the world’s Internet users.

                                                                  For details and links on the book and how to pre-order it right now, please go to the post.

                                                                  Thursday, September 8, 2011

                                                                  Activities Americans can do right now for the Tar Sands Pipeline Protest

                                                                  Go to the regional Obama campaign headquarters (send plan details to!  Also, go to your Congressional Representatives Headquarters. And State Senator's and State Representative's too.

                                                                  • stand outside with signs
                                                                  • sing protest chants
                                                                  • call all the press and media, and they WILL be there!
                                                                  • have folks on hand to video and upload to and send to, all tar sands protest sites, etc.

                                                                  Host a local Meetup, again creating press for it.

                                                                  For every event we plan, write a local Letter to the Editor; they're free and has great coverage.

                                                                  • include the Whitehouse phone number -- (202) 456-1111 -- and local US Senators' and US Rep's. numbers for readers to call
                                                                  • include your local contact info, so they know we are active and protesting!
                                                                  • send copies of your letters to

                                                                  Get a permit for a peaceful gathering at a park on a main road, or in front of a courthouse during busy hours...we plan to do this every week....we are NOT going away!

                                                                  We are generating ACTION... folks calling the White House at (202) 456-1111.

                                                                  Folks can go to to all Protest Tar Sands Petitions -- many organizations are creating them and sending them out.

                                                                  • send a list of their links, through emails, facebook, contacts, etc.:, friends of the earth, credoaction,, sierra club, avaaz, and many more

                                                                  Write a Letter to the White House, and keep up the momentum of coverage in every town in America! That is the only thing that will get his attention.

                                                                  • send it to (their contact link is at the top-right corner of their homepage)
                                                                  • mail it through "send certified receipt requested," because if the White House has to sign for each and every letter, they get your attention!

                                                                  Monday, September 5, 2011

                                                                  Tue 7:30pm ET: Join the No Labels telephone town hall and end partisan gridlock

                                                                  From: No Labels
                                                                  Telephone town hall with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Tuesday Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. eastern

                                                                  • On Tuesday night (Sept. 6), I’m talking with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz about how to end the partisan gridlock paralyzing Washington in a nationwide telephone town hall hosted by No Labels. Join me:
                                                                  • Three weeks ago, Schultz asked other business leaders to urge Congress and President Obama to end the partisan gridlock paralyzing Washington. More than 100 executives joined him in signing a two-part pledge: 
                                                                  • 1. To withhold campaign contributions until Washington reaches a fair, bipartisan deal on our country’s long-term economic future. 
                                                                  • 2. To hire workers. American businesses can make a positive impact on our economy through a commitment to doing everything possible to accelerate job creation. 
                                                                  • Since then, Schultz has heard from Americans across the country who are losing hope in the American dream. It’s time to bring that confidence back. Click here to join me on the Tuesday night call:

                                                                  Request for your thoughts -- today's democracy movements

                                                                       In view of the recent and ongoing developments from various democratic movements and organizations, concluding with upcoming demonstrations in Washington, DC, New York and across the nation, we would like to request your thoughts in the Comments section below.

                                                                       Here is a list of questions we hope you have an interest in sharing your thoughts, concerns and outlook on:

                                                                       These demonstrations are a progression from earlier attempts of civic engagement by the American people; most who are participating feel that nonviolent civil disobedience is the only way to be heard concerning our nation's problems and making of laws. Do you believe they have chosen the best methods constitutionally thus far, and for the next few months? Do you fear that the people's rights to assemble, to enjoy free speech and address our government grievances will be honored by our government authorities?

                                                                       Did you expect these movements to be so active as they have so far this year?  What has prompted such a rapid development and plans of various national democracy movements?

                                                                       Why do you feel Americans have reached the resolution that, recently and in the next few months, historically large grassroots citizen protests are taking place in Washington, DC, Wall Street and other major cities?

                                                                       Do you expect them to have an impact on our elected officials, locally all the way to the president?  Do you believe the protests will be sustained for however long it may take to have a substantial impact on public policy?

                                                                       I look forward to your comments!

                                                                  Monday, August 29, 2011

                                                                  Online grassroots organizing with limited budget and resources

                                                                  From: Mashable
                                                                  5 Tips for Sparking a Grassroots Movement Online, by  Anne Driscoll

                                                                  • “Social action” comes easy to those who understand the value of service, helping others and devoting themselves to making the world a better place despite challenges. The trick is turning that personal motivation into a widespread and impactful movement. Grassroots communities are a way to get actionable success even with limited budgets and resources.
                                                                    • 1. Don’t Raise an Issue, Tell a story -- Simply combining facts and emotions into a powerful narrative conveys far more than a 40-page proposal. Through storytelling, you make a human connection between your audience and the cause.
                                                                    • 2. Reward Your Supporters -- Enable and reward your biggest evangelists to increase their participation. They will in turn help you create momentum and spread your message.
                                                                    • 3. Amplify your Message -- Build a campaign hub where you can broadcast online actions which your supporters can then share on their social graphs.
                                                                    • 4. Remove Barriers to Participation -- Creating a central and clear call to action is key to getting folks involved in the next level of support. In addition to participation, make fundraising goals and tools a prominent part of your outreach so people can easily — and safely — contribute to your movement.
                                                                    • 5. Empower Your Volunteers -- Set clear expectations on what it means to get involved and what they will receive in return. Keep volunteers in the loop and share how they have played a part in your success.

                                                                    The social network technology behind Web 2.0 has reached maturity; and it is still developing, and is growing in the number of users engaged in political activism.  In addition to volunteering/ supporting ongoing large social movements, you have the opportunity to start your own movement from scratch.

                                                                    Friday, August 26, 2011

                                                                    Several large protests are planned for the next couple of months in the US

                                                                    From: Waging Nonviolence
                                                                    Why aren’t Americans in the streets? Where is the American Autumn? | Aug 13, 2011

                                                                    • Americans may not be out on the streets yet, but they’re planning on it. Just wait—or get involved. People are organizing. The more they prepare, the more likely they are to carry out actions worthy of their goals.
                                                                      • Something is happening. Even Al Gore said, earlier this month, that we need an “American Spring.” How about an American Autumn [#AmericanAutumn]?
                                                                        • For the past few weeks, we at Waging Nonviolence have been talking with individuals and groups that are involved in one way or another in a variety of powerful new protest efforts. Here are a few of them:
                                                                          • Environmental activists—including Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Wendell Berry— are undertaking sustained civil resistance to fight the proposed pipeline taking oil from the Canadian tar sands to refineries in Texas. They consider this a crucial battleground in the fight to ameliorate climate change. []
                                                                          • [Update 8/14/11] Citizens for Legitimate Government is calling for Seize DC, a plan to occupy space in the city, without permits, in protest of “endless, illegal, murderous and bankrupting war abroad; endless, brutal and bankrupting attacks on the vast majority at home.” []
                                                                          • After Adbusters called for a takeover of Wall Street on September 17th, a number of websites and organizations have joined in to support the cause—just look at this, this, this, this, and more. An ongoing, open discussion has been taking place about what the movement’s demands will be—including proposals from taxing the rich to ending corporate contributions to political candidates. []
                                                                          • On October 6th, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, a broad coalition of old- and new-guard activists are planning to begin a sustained occupation of Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington DC, hoping to foster new momentum for a movement that will end American militarism abroad and put resources to use for people at home. []
                                                                          • Between September 11th and October 7th, a group called 10 Years and Counting will be using art and performance to galvanize people into action against the ongoing wars. []
                                                                          • A global day of action is being planned for October 15, a World Revolution for Real Democracy. In anticipation, Spanish Indignados are marching from Madrid to Brussels, with solidarity actions for September 17th and October 6th along the way.  []

                                                                          There has been a flowering of national protests in the United States, in the form of conventions, building of movements and coalitions, and organizing protests.  The flower is now in full display; how do you plan to engage in any of these events?  Are there any more protests/ marches/ sit-ins, etc. being organized?

                                                                          Wednesday, August 24, 2011

                                                                          For free download or book purchase: "Digital Activism Decoded", edited by Mary Jacobs

                                                                          From: The Meta-Activism Project: Book
                                                                          Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change, edited by Mary Jacobs

                                                                          • Citizens around the world are using digital technologies to push for social and political change. Yet, while stories have been published, discussed, extolled, and derided, the underlying mechanics of digital activism are little understood. This new field, its dynamics, practices, misconceptions, and possible futures are presented together for the first time in Digital Activism Decoded.

                                                                          Please go to the Meta-Activism Project post for details and a free download; there is also a link to purchase a paper version from

                                                                          Next Sunday, Aug 28 2011 the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will have a ceremonial dedication

                                                                          From: National Constitution Center: Constitution Daily
                                                                          With the dedication of a new memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream” becomes a reality

                                                                          Flickr photo by mattlemmon

                                                                          • Nearly half a century after he led the March on Washington for civil rights and gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr., is receiving the honor he deserves among other great American leaders in Washington, D.C.
                                                                            • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which opened to the public on Monday in West Potomac Park on the Tidal Basin, will be formally dedicated on Sunday, the 48th anniversary of King’s immortal speech.
                                                                              • A Long Time Coming
                                                                              • On August 28, 1963, the first integrated protest march, which became known as the March on Washington, was led by Dr. King.  It was during the protest that King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; the symbolism did not go unnoticed.  Five years later on April 4th, Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  But it took another 28 years before President Bill Clinton signed congressional legislation proposing the establishment of a memorial in honor of Dr. King.  Finally after years of fundraising and construction, the memorial is set to open. 
                                                                              • I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
                                                                              • A Permanent Symbol of Hope and Peace
                                                                              • The Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, creating a visual line of leadership between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.  The memorial’s location identifies King as a integral leader in American history. Visually, the memorial also conveys four major themes– democracy, justice, hope, and love.  The memorial will include a 450-foot inscription wall with some of King’s most famous quotes.  It will also feature the “Mountain of Despair” and the “Stone of Hope,” which includes a 30-foot sculpture of King. The ceremonial dedication on Sunday will be accompanied by dinners, concerts, prayer services, and galas.  Tickets are available to the public through the memorial’s website (

                                                                              The author of the original article, Rachel Bradshaw served as the Education Assistant at the National Constitution Center for the past three summers. She now begins her graduate work at Lehigh University studying Political Science.

                                                                              Tuesday, August 23, 2011

                                                                              Our elected officials want to hear from us

                                                                              Advocacy Associates
                                                                              Advocacy Tips: You Cannot Persuade if You Don't Persist!

                                                                              • When an issue that is important to you is down to the wire [and you can't schedule a meeting with your representative], don’t feel bad about contacting your congressional office multiple times. Be tactful (don’t call every five minutes), but keep the momentum going. The truth is they want to hear from their constituents.

                                                                              One of the most effective means of citizen engagement with our elected officials is through personal meetings.  And most opportunities to meet our representatives occur when they are back in their districts, away from Washington or the state capitol.  Most have their own district offices-- sometimes more than one; they also may conduct public meetings when they're home.

                                                                              Sunday, August 21, 2011

                                                                              "Public deliberation" poems

                                                                              As we debate in our nation's capital, let us take a moment to reflect on the inherent wisdom of our higher selves.  Life is always a sign of hope; let life sustain us to a just and right solution.

                                                                              Public deliberation
                                                                              by David Weller

                                                                              about doubt!
                                                                              no doubt about it!
                                                                              we all have it!
                                                                              we must move on, though,
                                                                              human beings require work...

                                                                              in fullness of doubt
                                                                              does one turn about
                                                                              and remain
                                                                              true to

                                                                              honesty, without
                                                                              eternity to believe,
                                                                              means nothing to me

                                                                              hearts are one when we
                                                                              go each our own way, when we
                                                                              never make th' other stay

                                                                              breaking the sweetness
                                                                              with vapors of great feats, lest
                                                                              we grow eliteness

                                                                              doubt that you own the
                                                                              moon and all of its brightness, and
                                                                              you will be right less

                                                                              it doesn't matter
                                                                              "how" it's done,
                                                                              just get "wise"
                                                                              in how it's
                                                                              never quite won...

                                                                              love denies pain and
                                                                              glory and foresight and all
                                                                              that's left of what's right

                                                                              Love hates sinning and
                                                                              likes you without winning, so
                                                                              that's selfless giving!

                                                                              Saturday, August 20, 2011

                                                                              Participatory budgeting gives citizens a voice and a vote in how government spends public money

                                                                              NCDD- The National Coalition for Dialog & Deliberation: Resource Center
                                                                              Government can’t solve budget battles? Let citizens do it.

                                                                              • As states and cities across the country confront staggering budget shortfalls, they face a double whammy: Voters are already disillusioned with government, and now elected officials have fewer resources to address citizens’ concerns. Recent polls show that Americans are as disgruntled as ever with Congress and both major parties. Meanwhile, the economic crisis has left federal, state, and city legislators short of funds for public goods like education and health care.
                                                                              • Faced with such daunting budget dilemmas, what are politicians to do? Two words: Look south! “Participatory budgeting” (PB), a model popular throughout Latin America, may offer a way to do more with less, and to reconnect citizens with government.
                                                                              • PB gives taxpayers a voice and a vote in how government spends public money. Unlike consultations, PB enables ordinary people to directly decide budget spending. Citizens receive training, identify and prioritize local needs, develop spending proposals, and vote on the proposed projects. Then the government carries out the top proposals, participants monitor progress, and the cycle begins anew.
                                                                              • First developed in Brazil, PB has spread to over 1,200 municipalities around the world. Throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, it has brought people into the political process, taught them civic skills, and encouraged them to work together. Where the state provides sufficient support – through training, facilitation, and expert guidance – PB can reverse dissatisfaction with government and increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency.

                                                                              Friday, August 19, 2011

                                                                              People can overcome propaganda and hate speech with civic engagement

                                                                              We are sharing this entire article, as all of its content is vitally important.  Thank you to the NCoC, and the Holocaust Museum for having taken on this very critical political civic engagement issue during NCoC's recent conference.  It is we, the people's responsibility to make the right choices when our society is confronted with any political communication, whether it be anonymously financed or not.

                                                                              NCoC-- National Conference on Citizenship
                                                                              "Power in the Spoken Word: Propaganda, Hate Speech, and Civic Engagement"

                                                                              In a world where violence and sorrow often prevail, how do we create an environment where hate cannot flourish? This was a central question for discussion at a leadership summit titled “What You Do Matters,” a conference hosted by the Holocaust Museum on the weekend of June 28th, 2011. The summit presented new ways of thinking about hate speech, propaganda and civic engagement.

                                                                              What is propaganda? The conference introduced the concept of propaganda by providing firsthand accounts of genocide and hate speech in a series of lectures and discussions over the course of the weekend. Carl Wilkins, the only American survivor to remain in Rwanda during the genocide in the early 1990’s, spoke about trust and facilitating peace in times of turmoil. Robert Behr, Holocaust survivor, talked about his experience living in Germany during Hitler’s rule. Bill Adair, editor and the Washington Bureau Chief for the St. Petersburg Times, gave a lecture on the importance of holding people accountable to their words. Amy Lazarus, Executive Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, joined in the conversation by providing students with the right tools to be able to encourage communication and promote dialogue around the language of hate.

                                                                              A common theme throughout the conference was the topic of positive reinforcement and using propaganda as a tool to focus on those individuals willing and ready to ignite change. Is it possible to rid the world of apathy and encourage a more active citizenry? Speakers at the conference emphasized the importance of taking initiative and simply starting somewhere. Personal education and resourcefulness is necessary for a leader to successfully execute their mission to start a movement or unite a community. Hate speech dissipates with knowledge and dialogue; and as agents of propaganda, individuals have the potential to effect change. Samantha Jacobson, student at Wesleyan University, learned how to harness her skills to spark change, “I discovered the power of dialogue as a mechanism for diverting the energy surrounding contentious issues away from biased or partisan beliefs and into a safe and productive space for compromise and progress.”

                                                                              How does verbal communication influence the way that people interpret information? Over time people have learned that language greatly influences propaganda and the way that message is received by an audience. Certain connotations associated with words present topics in stereotypical ways or with a slant or bias. People evaluate language based on previous knowledge or experience and the evocation of language greatly effects audience receptivity.

                                                                              The summit also presented new ways of thinking about propaganda as a tool to sell ideas and the ways in which information is presented to individuals as consumers. Is it possible to filter the information that we receive? Samantha shared her experience saying, “This summit inspired me to take on the role of a cautious consumer of the information that is readily available throughout the world around me. I now understand the power of my voice and how impacting just one person could be a step towards changing the world. I have learned that silence does not equate to righteous.” If people set aside their own bias and prejudice they will be more open to ideas and willing to facilitate communication and dialogue.

                                                                              The exhibit at the Holocaust Museum, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, detailed the ways in which individuals have been vulnerable to ideas presented in advertisements plastered on automobiles, buildings, cereal boxes and posters. Tim Kaiser, Director of Education for the Holocaust Museum, explained how propaganda is dependent upon the technique, means of communication, audience receptivity, and the environment and context in which it is presented. Still, as individuals, what we chose to read, who we interact with and the ways in which we filter information are all dependent upon our personal preferences and whether we want to see the world in a broad or limited scope.

                                                                              The summit challenged 50 young leaders to assess their personal leadership styles and think about new ways and new ideas to spread the message of peace to their local communities.

                                                                              Still questions remain…
                                                                              How do we create a world where hate cannot flourish?

                                                                              Why does hate perpetuate? How can we break the cycle?

                                                                              What steps can be taken in communities to dissipate hate and create conversation surrounding this prevalent issue?

                                                                              Tuesday, August 16, 2011

                                                                              Conflict within groups and its cures: concerns for the "Super Congress"

                                                                              NCDD- National Coalition for Dialog & Deliberation: Community News Blog
                                                                              Group Decision Tip: Causes of Conflict, and Cures

                                                                              • In principle, the cause of most conflict is misunderstanding. The parties don’t have the same facts, same experience, same perspective, and don’t fully appreciate how someone else could see it differently.
                                                                                • A second cause of conflict is fundamental difference of values. This is where the parties understand the facts and each other but they simply have different values. For example, one person believes in Jesus as savior, another does not. Each person’s beliefs are deeply rooted and not easily changed.
                                                                                  • Third, parties are in conflict because of some outside issue, something that has nothing to do with the immediate issue at hand. The conflict might be because of some incident between the parties that happened years ago and has never been dealt with or because of a mental disorder, an irrational fear, or an addiction that is influencing someone’s judgment or behavior. An outside issue is preventing one or more key people from seeing or acting clearly.
                                                                                    • Practical Tip: When conflicts arise, work first to develop shared understanding. Talk, listen, express truth, learn, be open-minded, let go, ponder, talk some more.
                                                                                      • If differing values are the cause, identify the values you have in common. Identify your common goals. See how you believe in similar things but have different ways of acting on them. Document and work on the things you agree on and let go of the rest, for now.
                                                                                        • If a debilitating outside issue is at play, peace will only come about if the issue is dealt with. If it is your issue, deal with it, seek help, do the personal work. If the issue is not dealt with by the parties, an outside authority must be invoked to make and enforce a decision.
                                                                                          • Group Decision Tips are written by Craig Freshley. At his site,, you can access a complete archive of all his Tips, comment, and view others’ comments.

                                                                                          As we follow the deliberations over the national deficit by the "Super Congress" committee of 12 congress members, we can be mindful of the potentiality of conflict within the group, what may cause it, and what may be done to alleviate it.  Of course, we may keep these things in perspective in our own private and public deliberations as well.

                                                                                          National democratic movements have taken shape and are building membership, increasing activities

                                                                                          There is a political organizing trend of building coalitions of like-minded groups on the internet right now.  In addition, other organizations have developed on their own.

                                                                                          On the democracy front, America has seen a budding of many movements independent of the two major parties; nine national organizations are listed below in alphabetical order.  Although they are for the most part non-ideological, they fall somewhere in the center and/or left on the political spectrum, and they all encourage grassroots and netroots activism from their members.

                                                                                          In the near future, there will be more numerous progressive conventions and protests.  Some of these organizations will come together at times for a greater presence and show of resolve.

                                                                                          • Agenda Project  |  |  The Agenda Project’s goal is to build a powerful, intelligent, well-connected political movement capable of identifying and advancing rational, effective ideas in the public debate and in so doing ensure our country’s enduring success. .. Between out-dated political parties, self-interested multi-national corporations, and ineffectual elected officials, good values and common sense have lost their power in the public debate.  Our goal is to return normal Americans to the center of the policy debate by cultivating an understanding of public policy, facilitating common action, and connecting the best ideas and the strongest leaders with engaged citizens, elected officials, the media, political insiders, and experts through a variety of in-person and on-line platforms.
                                                                                          • Americans Elect  |  |  Americans Elect is the first-ever open nominating process. We're using the Internet to give every single voter—Democrat, Republican or independent—the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. The people will choose the issues. The people will choose the candidates. And in a secure, online convention next June, the people will make history by putting their choice on the ballot in every state.
                                                                                          • Campaign for Stronger Democracy  |  |  The Campaign for a Stronger Democracy is a new coalition of advocates, scholars, civic organizations, public officials and concerned citizens who are working to create a strong, vibrant democracy, rooted in a belief that our democratic institutions can rise to the challenges facing our nation.
                                                                                          • Coffee Party USA  |  |  We are a non-partisan, fact-based, solutions-oriented network determined to have an impact in our nation's deliberative process.  If we abandon our civic duty to multi-national corporations and the ruling elite, the interests of our nation as a whole will be neglected.  Recognizing that many Americans are searching for a way to participate in our political process without adhering to any partisan or ideological framework, our aim is to provide a gathering place and a method for those who might not otherwise have a voice in our democracy.  These are the voices we value most.
                                                                                          • Democracy Convention  |  |  If you want to strengthen democracy where it matters most -- in our communities, our schools, our workplaces and local economies, our military, our government, our media, our constitution -- you will find something inspiring in Madison this August. ..  More than one conference, this first Democracy Convention will house at least nine conferences under one roof. As the great progressive reformer Fighting Bob La Follette said, "democracy is a life," and "involves constant struggle" in all sectors of society. With the 2011 Democracy Convention, we recognize the importance of each of these separate democracy struggles, as well as the need to unite them all in a common, deeply rooted, broad based, movement for democracy.
                                                                                          • Move to Amend  |  | is a coalition supported by hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals dedicated to ending the illegitimate legal doctrines that prevent the American people from governing ourselves.
                                                                                          • No Labels  |  |  No Labels does not believe we need to search for better values or principles.  The solution is even simpler: we must return to the essence of our beliefs.  Most Americans in the vital center of our still great country
                                                                                          • October 2011  |  |  "I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day or the days immediately following, for as long as I can, with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America's resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning."
                                                                                          • USAction  |  |  USAction builds power by uniting people locally and nationally, on-the-ground and online, to win a more just and progressive America.  We create the nation's leading progressive coalitions, making democracy work by organizing issue and election campaigns to improve people's lives.

                                                                                          These offer opportunities for democratic and progressive activism to individuals and smaller groups across the U.S.  You, too, can be a part by checking out and signing up with what interests you the most.

                                                                                          Thursday, August 11, 2011

                                                                                          Through "constituent instructions," the American voters can fight the Citizens United decision by amending the constitution

                                                                                          Common Cause: CommonBlog
                                                                                          Voters can fix the court's Citizens United mistake

                                                                                          • Instead of adhering to the letter of our Constitution, five members of the current Supreme Court have edited our founding document to give corporations constitutional protections, including freedom of speech. And because they equate money with speech, that allows corporations to spend whatever they want on political advertising, the justices say. Most Americans disagree with this decision. Yet, does the Supreme Court get the final say?
                                                                                            • Our challenge is similar to that of citizens a century ago who pushed for direct election of U.S. senators. They needed two-thirds of U.S. senators to change the way they came into power from legislative appointment to direct election. Moreover, they then needed to convince three-quarters of state legislatures to give up their power to appoint U.S. Senators.
                                                                                              • One technique that worked then was called Voter Instructions. Voters passed ballot measures instructing state legislators to appoint to the Senate the candidate who had won in a non-binding popular election in that state. Legislators followed these instructions, and the Senators who were thus appointed had nothing to fear from direct election. Those senators became supporters of what ultimately became the 17th Amendment.
                                                                                                • While constituent instructions have never been considered legally binding, they have historically carried great force.

                                                                                                A mistake of today's conservative, or right wing, movement is the advancing, systematic suppression of American voters who historically have voted for democratic candidates.  We, the people, however, can fight to restore and improve our electoral system; we must be able to select and hold accountable our own representatives.  

                                                                                                To read the entire message, with historical analysis, please go to the CommonBlog post.

                                                                                                Tuesday, August 9, 2011

                                                                                                Read up on the budget deal. Demand transparency. Weigh in. Democracy demands it.

                                                                                                The purpose of Activism News is to offer tools to assist citizens in engaging in the democratic process; in addition, we provide the latest news applicable to the average political activist. This means culling the latest from the source-- over 150 different NGO blogs-- and presenting that information with due attribution. An entire post from OMB Watch today deserves our immediate attention-- it reminds us of our civic duty during this time of critical debt deliberations to be both aware of Washington's happenings and to engage with fellow Americans and our federally elected officials. Thanks to OMB Watch for this very timely public participation request.

                                                                                                The Biggest Loser in the Debt Ceiling Deal: American Democracy
                                                                                                August 9, 2011

                                                                                                Like everyone else in the country, at OMB Watch, we are trying to find a sliver of hope in the outcome of the debt ceiling debacle. We are relieved that default was avoided, since the immediate repercussions could have been worse than the volatility we've seen in recent days. But the debt deal effectively steals the instruments government has to try to heal our wounded economy. Financial analysts across the globe have noticed, and anxieties about the effects of sputtering U.S. consumer demand are deepening.

                                                                                                As critical as the economic impacts of the deal are, the debt ceiling game of chicken was a political earthquake, and its aftershocks could keep us reeling indefinitely. America’s style of democracy, admired (or sometimes criticized) for its stability, is looking shaky.

                                                                                                Effective democracy requires an informed, engaged citizenry; honest debate; and elected representatives working in the public interest. These elements were not in evidence last week.

                                                                                                The American people are angry that big banks were rescued but not local businesses or homeowners. Americans told Congress they wanted jobs, but the only proposals under discussion were cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Our debt piled up because we gave huge tax cuts to the wealthy, went to war on borrowed money, and then revenues tanked when the housing bubble burst. The stimulus created or saved up to three and a half million jobs, but it wasn’t big enough to fill the 8 million-job hole created by Wall Street’s meltdown. Corporate taxes are at an all-time low; businesses have trillions to invest but won’t until demand returns.

                                                                                                A majority of Americans of both parties believe revenues should be part of the budget deal. The public wants a debate on what the federal government can do to create jobs and right the economy. Instead of addressing these crucial issues, a determined minority is doing its best to undermine the government’s ability to provide assistance to vulnerable Americans in this challenging economy and during future crises.

                                                                                                Anti-government ideologues have taken away a frightening lesson: that radical truculence by a small faction is a winning strategy. When elected officials fail to respond to the public’s concerns, faith in government plummets. When unemployment benefits are held hostage to tax cuts for the rich, public cynicism about who our democratic institutions serve grows. When elected officials who vote their conscience or the values of their constituents are threatened with primary challenges financed by outside special interests, the principle of representative democracy erodes. And when public trust in government bleeds out, anti-government forces gain strength.

                                                                                                Those of us who believe in democracy and know that public structures play a crucial role in life have to push back on the cynicism. We need more participation, more citizens scrutinizing the process. What’s at stake is too important to give in to cynicism and disillusionment. Twelve people cannot possibly represent the unique needs and diverse interests of the American populace. The potential for special interest pressure on the Committee of Twelve will be enormous. The American people need to be vigilant; they need to make themselves heard.

                                                                                                Even if our party structures and congressional rules are stuck in the 19th century, our technology is not. We have digital video and cell phones. We have the Internet. We have the ability to live-stream every hearing of the Committee of Twelve to libraries, college campuses, and school rooms across the country. Reports and documents can be posted online.

                                                                                                Every meeting a committee member has with a lobbyist or powerful interest group should be posted online. Financial disclosure statements of the Committee of Twelve and their staff should be posted online. Campaign contributions should be publicly posted within 24 hours of receipt. The committee’s final report should be posted 72 hours before it is voted on. A running public comment should start now. Let’s have a giant civics lesson in public budgets.

                                                                                                Government of the people requires an electoral system that produces responsible, rational representatives who care more about people than ideological purity. Government by the people in the modern world mandates modern communication tools that invite people into decision making instead of shutting them out. Government for the people only happens when citizens fiercely defend their right to know and to participate. So read up on the budget deal. Demand transparency. Weigh in.

                                                                                                Democracy demands it.

                                                                                                Monday, August 8, 2011

                                                                                                Make your mobile activism information safe on Facebook

                                                                                                Full article: Safer Facebook

                                                                                                • Like Twitter, Facebook is a way to get your messages to a potentially large audience. It is not a secure method of communication for sensitive information.
                                                                                                  • This article offers advice about how to mitigate risks when using Facebook as a dissemination and organizing tool. In particular, we consider the following risks: 
                                                                                                  • The risk that your public activities on Facebook reveal compromising information about you or your networks - for example, revealing the identity of supporters or identifying people who were present at a particular event. 
                                                                                                  • The risk of your private information being revealed to a third party without your consent. 
                                                                                                  • The risk that your account details (username and password) are discovered, and that someone may impersonate you. 
                                                                                                  • The risk of your account being deleted or suspended. 
                                                                                                  • The risk that Facebook is blocked or becomes inaccessible.
                                                                                                    • In general, you should only use Facebook to share information that you consider public. Public information can be freely distributed by you, your organization, and your supporters, without any risk to individuals or organizational operations. In communicating public information, you can send and receive this information without taking any precautions.

                                                                                                    Please go to the post for the details on how you can make your own mobile activism safe on Facebook.