Sunday, April 29, 2012

Read Timely, Free Articles from the Latest Journal of Public Deliberation

From:  Latest Issue of the Journal of Public Deliberation  |  NCDD

  • 14 manuscripts are published in this issue, and authors hail from 8 countries.

  • This issue contains research articles, essays, and a symposium.

  • The symposium is an essay series that respond to Larry Diamond’s recent work on liberation technologies.  Guest editor, Damien Pfister, coordinated these essays to explore the potential for “de-liberation technologies” to sustain democratic movements.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Read a Better Politics-Poetry Blog of Poems!

     A few months ago, I published a series of brand new political poems on the blog "Politics-Poetry".  As the US Poet Laureate has said, we never stop editing our poems.  I've looked over my new poems on P-P with fresh eyes and, yes, I edited several on that new blog.

     I'm now delighted to share with you a much better series of poems at Politics-Poetry.  I hope you can take the extra time to enjoy them a-new.  Thank you

Friday, April 27, 2012

Take Action: Tell Your US Senators to Support the DISCLOSE Act of 2012

From:  ACTION ALERT: Where is the MONEY Coming From?  |  League of Women Voters

  • Already in this election cycle we have seen a slew of money from secret donors, corporations and special interests.

  • If Congress does not act to clean up our election finance system, 2012 will be known as the year of the Super PAC, and voters will be deprived of the information they need to make informed decisions in this election.

  • Congress can act to close the floodgates against secret big-money special interests in our elections. The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 is moving in the Senate and it would require full transparency and let the sunlight in.

*  If you have the capacity to do so, call your members of Congress' offices.  Making a personal, direct phone call to their staff, as one of their constituents, is a more powerful way to contact them.  U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Use PopVox When an In-Person Visit or Phone Call to Your Congress Member is Not Practicable

From:  PopVox: How to advocate your cause in Congress, by JD Lasica  |  Socialbrite

  • Professional advocates are good at mobilizing support for or against a particular bill.  [For individuals' personal needs, however,] "PopVox funnels voices into very specific asks,” she said.

  • While an in-person visit or phone call from a constituent is still the best way to influence a member of Congress, that’s not always practicable-- bring in PopVox.

  • On PopVox, a visitor has to choose a bill on a certain topic and support or oppose it as a first step.

  • The site then works each day to make sure voters’ messages are delivered through something called Congressional Web forms.

  • Transparency is part of the PopVox formula.  When you use the service, the public and news media can see the comments you send to members.

  • Citizens and advocates also have the option to share their cause, plea or rant via Facebook, Twitter and across the social Web.

For details, please view this very informative introductory video by SocialBrite.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Send your comment in support of new EPA air pollution limits

From:  Celebrate Earth Day!  Lend your voice to the fight to protect clean air  |  League of Women Voters

  • Let your voice be heard on a historic regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • The EPA has taken an important step to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. This means that we can cut smog and decrease asthma attacks and permanent damage to our children's lungs.

  • The agency is now accepting public comments on the proposal and you can add your support for this important regulation.

  • Head on over to our Action Page, fill in your information and let your voice be heard!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Great Comments On NY Times Article Concerning Our Corrupt Campaign Finance System (And On What YOU Can Do)

From:  Money Rules in Washington Politics  |  NY Times

Below are the most popular comments by the readers of the NY Times article.  They are poignant, passionate and powerful.  They speak from the people's perspective on the state and solution to our nation's corrupt candidate campaign finance system.  

Some form of public financing is the answer; please go to Public Campaign for just one of the many Washington, DC-based non-governmental organizations watching and pushing for this solution; you will find a description of public financing (or sometimes called Fair Elections) and find ways you can support the cause.

Big money in politics is the source of many, if not most, of the scandals you read about everyday in our government.  Please do your part in this eternal struggle for real democracy and act today.

From:  Karen Garcia, New Paltz, NY 
In a country where 94% of all elections are decided by which candidate raises the most money, democracy is nothing but a sham. Citizens are invited to pull the lever every four years for a one percent candidate who has learned to be loyal to his own kind.
We are being asked to choose between Obama, Inc and Romney, Inc. We are invited to to participate in what is essentially a mere spectator sport for the masses. Pick a side and root for your team. Revel in the illusion that your participation matters. Heads they win, tails you lose. The only victors are the boards of corporate givers/directors, many of whom sit at both tables, hedging their bets the good old American way. Donors who invest huge chunks of money to campaigns are playing with weighted votes. They have the golden ticket with a name attached. We are but fleeting anonymous blips on a touch screen.
What makes this particular contest particularly odious is the recent invasion of Citizens United, which allows unlimited corporate -- even foreign -- interests to decide the outcome. The constant and shameless grasping for money by both candidates is a gross violation of the public trust. With luck and grit, we will succeed in overturning C.U. with a constitutional amendment. Our venal politicians certainly cannot be counted on to reform the system once they are elected. A systemic culture of greed and pay-to-play has irrevocably corrupted them. 

From:  martin weiss, mexico, mo 
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. "-- Thomas Jefferson
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed." Abraham Lincoln
Undermining government, the legal definition of sedition, has been the object of aristocracies of both heredity and finance since the inception and will always be the tendency of capital.
"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."
-- James Madison
Merchant princes and hereditary aristocrats are only a paper tiger. We, the people have the real and lasting power if we but exercise it.

From:  Winning Progressive, Chicago, IL 
It is disappointing that President Obama has not done more to reform our electoral system that has been broken by a flood of campaign cash.
But the big problems here is that the GOP won't allow for the type of policy changes needed to for we the people to be able to reclaim our democracy. Instead, they are too busy finding ways to add to the flood, with the five conservative activists on the Supreme Court dismantling the ability to enact any sensible campaign finance regulations. So long as policy change is halted, it is a little difficult to expect the Democrats to unilaterally disarm.
The solution here, of course, is to enact publicly financed campaigns so that we can put an end to the system of legalized bribery we have now, and so that we can free our elected officials and political candidates from having to spend so much of their time and energy focused on raising money rather than on figuring out how to address problems faced by everyday Americans. And the only way we will achieve publicly financed campaigns is for a large majority of the American public to demand it and to consistently vote in each campaign for the candidate most supportive of reforming our campaign finance system. And in the vast majority of cases, that candidate will be the Democrat who, while far from perfect, are typically are not actively trying to sell our democracy like the GOP is.

Friday, April 20, 2012

For Beginners to US Politics: View 10-minute Video on Citizenship

From:  Citizenship Video  |  The Center on Congress at Indiana University

  • In our American government process, find out how the actions of the citizens who have come before us have helped shape our current-day society.

  • Understand the many different things citizens can do to participate in our democracy as well as in our local communities.

  • Learn about the characteristics of good citizens that are so important to our democracy – things like listening to others, making sound decisions, and speaking up on issues that matter to us.

Please see the 10-minute video here.

Things You Can Do On and Around Earth Day

From:  WHAT TO DO ON EARTH DAY!  |  Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote has a great list of Earth Day events you can go to locally or actively participate in.  Please go to their article for short, informative explanations of each one.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tue May 01, 6-7pm ET Webinar: How To Write a Letter to the Editor About Corporate Money in Politics

From:  Make Sure Your Local Newspaper is Paying Attention  |  Public Citizen

  • [Public Citizen is] hosting a webinar to provide tips for writing an effective, publishable letter to the editor about the battle against corporate money in politics.

  • The webinar will be on Tuesday, May 1 from 6 to 7 p.m. Eastern time (5 to 6 p.m. Central, 4 to 5 p.m. Mountain, 3 to 4 p.m. Pacific).

  • This May and June, we’re taking the fight to the corporations — and these events will be a timely topic for your letter to the editor.

Thoughts on Civic Engagement and Democracy

From:  Civic Provocations: Bringing Theory to Practice  |  Editor: Donald W Harward, Series Editor: Barry Checkoway  |  Bringing Theory to Practice Project, Association of American Colleges and Universities

  • To be an engaged, or higher, learner is to be in a relationship to an “other” and to respect its integrity—to know, judge, and act in a community. It is why Dewey and current neo-pragmatists argue that matters of learning and thinking are inseparable from a social ethic, from matters of social action where knowing and practice in the social context are inseparable. They are the very core of civic responsibility.  ~Donald W Harward

  • If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?—RABBI HILLEL

  • As Tocqueville said, hearkening back to Aristotle, “By dint of working for the good of one’s fellow citizens, the habit and the taste for serving them are at length acquired.”  ~Corey Keyes

  • Civic engagement is an activity, first and foremost.  It should be done in the spirit of joining and addressing an issue that is of concern not just to you, but to others, where the well-being or public happiness of others is at stake.  ~Corey Keyes

  • A crisis is also an opportunity. If we lack compelling political and intellectual movements, and if our major institutions are performing very badly, then we’d better begin building examples of ethical and effective civic work at the grassroots level. If our intellectual life is fractured in ways that reduce its value for active citizens, then we’d better find settings that reintegrate scholarship and address serious problems. That’s what I think we’re trying to do, but my provocation is that the intellectual work involved in that is extraordinarily difficult.  ~Peter Levine

  • It struck me that these small [civic engagement] groups of ... face a monumental intellectual task. The question before them is, what must be done? To answer that, they must know what the conditions are in the world, what strategies might possibly work ... and they must decide whether what they might try to do in the world would be good. So they must decide three things together: facts, strategies, and values.  ~Peter Levine

  • Civic engagement is an opportunity to remind us of our desperate need for rich interdependence; to strip away the fantasy of autonomy; to reveal that if the most vulnerable fall, we are all threatened.  ~Michelle Fine

  • I was recently reminded of an idea floated decades ago by the philosophers John Dewey and Maxine Greene. They contrasted anesthetic educational experiences, which put you to sleep, with aesthetic experiences, which provoke new ideas, relationships, and activities. Perhaps we should catalogue the conditions under which we can produce civic engagements that are aesthetic, provocative, enlivening—and not anesthetic.  ~Michelle Fine

  • It is in the condition of the free exchange, or even confrontation, of ideas that freedom has a meaning and justification. Ideologically regulated freedom is an oxymoron. Argumentation and the search for consensus are essential for true democracy.  ~Samuel Abraham

  • What I have also learned is the importance of asking questions. For, in our age, the questions, not the answers, are most daring and in danger of being foreclosed by ideologues and fanatics. Answers vary, are subjective, are tainted by ideology, and are rightly considered matters of opinion; however, questions might go to the core of the matter.  ~Samuel Abraham

  • The scope of our goals is thinking in terms that must be concrete and purposely limited.  The smaller of large deeds as simply the objective, the larger the impact it will have on minds.  And this is more than one can hope for, because setting an example—being an example—can have transformative effects.  Concrete positive action is something those thinking in terms of large deeds simply can't fathom.  ~Samuel Abraham

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Video: Webinar on Putting the Web to Work for Elections and Advocacy

From:  Webinar Video Now Online: ‘Putting the Web to Work for Elections & Advocacy’ | e.politics

  • Salsa has been kind enough to put last week’s “Campaigning in 2012″ webinar online, with the audio and the slideshow combined into a single YouTube video.

  • After a couple of minutes of intro and some quick promo of the “Winning in 2012″ e-book (which was the foundation of much of the talk), we plunge into about 25 minutes of presentation followed by a lively Q&A.

For the video, please go to the e.politics article.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Must Cut Our Own 'Puppet Strings' of Political Labels

From: Puppets of Politics | No Labels

  • We are now in the label wars. Everyone wants to define, control, and spread their labels, before the other guy. Conversely, politics has become a game of label the other guy, the other side, or the other belief before you, your side, or your belief can be labeled.

  • Just think about Occupy Wall Street. It was all labels, not even an attempt at substantive proposals. And to some extent, it worked. It achieved its goal of label creation and manipulation.

  • Most of us have become used to following the labels, and it is the labeling that can make us all political puppets.  Labels are strings, and strings are hard to see. When we label a person or a group, we tie a string to them and to ourselves. Labels define, and thus control and influence, actions. Labels manipulate behavior and outcomes.

  • By acceding to labels, we allow ourselves to become puppets of politics. We permit ourselves to be manipulated. We let ourselves have our strings pulled, our points of view manipulated, and sometimes we don’t even recognize it.

  • We do not always see the strings pulling and tugging on us, directing our movements. And just like a puppet, we can sometimes move too easily, jump too quickly, and take steps too abruptly.

  • In a World Working Well, we would all cut our strings - the strings we have and the strings we impose. In a World Working Well, there would be No Labels. There would be no strings.

  • Art Bushkin is a writer, philanthropist and social activist. His principal causes are Harnessing the Power of Technology for Social Good and Devout Politics: A World Working Well. For more on Art, check out

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oppose the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA)

From: New cyber bill getting big push from the spy and tech worlds | People's Blog for the Constitution (BORDC-- Bill of Rights Defense Committee)

  • Congress is busy pushing a bill that “would give government intelligence agencies broad powers to work with private companies to share information about Internet users.”

  • The bill, known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA),  provides companies and the government “free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for ‘cybersecurity purposes.’”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Take Action: Tell House Cmte. Chairman Issa to Withdraw his Co-Sponsorship of Cyber Intelligence bill

From: Urge Chairman Issa to Stand Up for FOIA |

  • In the interest of encouraging private companies to share cybersecurity threat information, HR 3523 bill unwisely and unnecessarily cuts off all public access to cyber threat information before the public and Congress have the chance to understand the types of information that are withheld under the bill.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 (Tax Day) is National Day of Action

From: Tax Wealth Not Work-- National Day of Action Tuesday, April 17th | AFL-CIO

  • On Tuesday, April 17th Tax Day, across the nation we’ll raise our voices to demand that the 1% pay their fair share and that we overhaul the tax code to reflect the needs and values of the majority of Americans.

CampaignTech Conference will be on April 19-20, 2012

Campaigns & Elections: CampaignTech Conference | April 19-20, 2012 | Washington, DC

  • How is the 2012 election season changing the craft of digital politics and advocacy?

  • What are leading practitioners doing to evolve the tools in their technology-charged communications toolboxes?

  • Join CampaignTech's hands-on trainings, workshops, round-table conversations, and panel discussions that will enhance your knowledge of practical politics, refine your digital campaign skills, and inspire you to exceed your goals this election – and beyond.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nonviolent corporate insurgency and protest

From: A lesson in defection from Goldman Sachs, by Nathan Schneider | Waging Nonviolence | April 13, 2012, 12:12 pm

  • The [Occupy] movement’s usual mode of attack against corporations or police departments it doesn’t like is to shout slogans about how bad they are. “Fuck Monsanto” and “fuck the police” are particularly popular refrains in New York lately. 

  • One could argue that Greg Smith reminds us that there’s a better — and perhaps more nonviolent — way: If you want to get an institution to eat itself alive, don’t just denounce it altogether. Instead, find ways to make its most committed and loyal members consider whether the institution really lives up to its own cherished values, and let them do their thing.  They’re the ones who can stir up far more trouble with far less effort than anyone on the outside ever could.

  • Then again, despite eliciting far less buzz in the mainstream media or sympathy from Mayor Bloomberg, the Occupy movement’s West Coast Port Shutdown on December 12 of last year, which targeted properties owned by Goldman Sachs, hit the company’s stock price almost twice as hard as Greg Smith’s op-ed. That kind of approach also has an appealing honesty. When a company’s cherished values really are intolerable — in Goldman’s case, protecting the wealth of the 1 percent — perhaps there’s no substitute for simply going into the streets and shutting it down.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Take Action: Support bill that closes millionaires' and billionaires' tax loopholes

From: Call Your Senators. Ask Them to Support the Paying a Fair Share Act | OMB Watch

  • On April 16 — the day before Tax Day — the U.S. Senate will hold a cloture vote on the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012 (S. 2230), sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 
  • The bill would close an array of tax loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower taxes than middle-class families.
  • The legislation would require all households with incomes above $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their total income in taxes — regardless of the source of that income or the deductions that they are allowed under the current tax code.
  • Please call or e-mail your senators and ask them to support this first step toward creating a tax system that asks each American to pay his or her fair share. You can look up your senators' contact information on the Senate's website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Take Action: Urge the SEC to require corporations to disclose their campaign contributions

From TAKE ACTION: Help us to "disinfect" Citizens United | CREW

  • The Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for unlimited secret campaign contributions by corporations.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission can’t limit the contributions – but it can strip away the secrecy. The SEC’s mandate includes protecting investors from corporate abuse.
  • This means the commission has the right to require all publicly traded corporations to disclose their campaign contributions.
  • Urge the SEC to issue a rule requiring corporations to disclose their contributions.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Take Action: Stronger standards for oil and natural gas air pollution

From Urge President Obama to Release Strong Oil & Natural Gas Standard | Environmental Defense Fund

Take Action: Join the 99% Spring!

From The 99% Spring is Here! |

  • The 99% Spring is an unprecedented movement-wide effort to train tens of thousands of people in nonviolent direct action, beginning this week.
  • MSNBC's Chris Hayes covered the effort this weekend, focusing on the pressing need for bold action to address the climate crisis. Like many of us, he took inspiration from Tim DeChristopher, who is currently serving a two year sentence for disrupting an illegal auction of federal lands to oil and gas companies. 
  • He also discussed the campaign against Keystone XL, which was super-charged by the largest sustained civil disobedience action in generations at the White House last summer.
  • If you're also inspired by Tim and the example of other climate activists who are taking action for the planet, take the next step by join them and click here to join the 99% Spring.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Take Action: No Budget, No Pay

From Ask Your Members of Congress to Co-sponsor No Budget, No Pay | No Labels

  • It’s a simple concept: if members of Congress can’t make budgetary and spending decisions on time, they should not be paid.
  • Washington is starting to take note. On March 14, No Budget, No Pay had a hearing in the Senate. Already, the legislation has 52 congressional co-sponsors.
  • That’s a solid start for the bill -- but we need even more support to make this great idea a great law.  That’s why we need you to ask your lawmakers if they are standing with the 88 percent of Americans who support No Budget, No Pay.
  • Click here to ask right now.

For automatic updates on the No Budget, No Pay legislation:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Take Action: Tell Congress to Support the GPS Act

From: Tell Congress: Support the GPS Act! | ACLU

  • US Sen. Ron Wyden & US Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act in the House and Senate to protect location privacy. The bills require law enforcement to get a warrant based on probable cause before accessing location information and also regulate the use of this information by business.
  • With location tracking cases rising up all over the country this would provide a strong and clear national standard for law enforcement.
  • Ask your senators and representative to sign on as cosponsors of this important piece of legislation.

For automatic updates on this legislation:

Take Action: Demand ALEC companies withdraw from membership

From Tell ALEC Companies to Stand Down! | The Center for Media and Democracy

  • The tragic Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida has once again drawn attention to the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in spreading terrible public policy in the form of “model” bills across the nation.

  • We are sending letters to the corporate leadership of the ALEC, which includes many household names (Bayer, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft, Wal-Mart, UPS, State Farm, Johnson and Johnson, AT&T, Koch, Altria/Phillip Morris USA, Reynolds Tobacco, Centerpoint 360, American Bail Coalition, Diageo, Energy Future Holdings, Exxon Mobile, Intuit, Peabody Energy, PhRMA, Reed Elsevier, Salt River Project) to demand that they withdraw their membership from ALEC and do what’s right for our democracy.

  • For more information about ALEC corporations, ALEC politicians, and the details of what they are doing behind closed doors go to

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Take action: Stop the arms flow to Syria

From: Tell Sec. Panetta: Stop the Arms Flow to Syria | Human Rights First

Take action: Let People Vote

From: Let Ruthelle Vote | ACLU