Thursday, August 23, 2012

September 17, 2012 is the US Constitution's 225th Anniversary

>> The Constitution's 225 Anniversary - National Constitution Center:
'via Blog this'

"The Constitution's 225 Anniversary"
National Constitution Center

  • Throughout 2012, the National Constitution Center is the the national headquarters for a historic milestone: the United States Constitution’s 225th anniversary. Located on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia—where the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787—the Center is presenting an extraordinary schedule of onsite and online programs that engage citizens nationwide in celebration of the Constitution and its legacy of freedom. These programs illuminate constitutional ideals and inspire active citizenship during a crucial election year. The commemoration culminates in September with a star-studded 225th Constitution Day extravaganza and Liberty Medal ceremony.

    • 225th anniversary highlights include [details in article]:
      • Governors Proclaim the 225th Anniversary
        • Celebrating Freedom of Expression
          • Sign the Constitution
            • Engaging in Election 2012
              • Learning about Civic Holidays with Constitution Hall Pass
                • The Grand Finale: 225th Anniversary Constitution Day and Liberty Medal

                Saturday, August 18, 2012

                Preferable qualities of dialogue over debate

                >> "Characteristics of Arts-Based Civic Dialogue: Debate Versus Dialogue"
                Animating Democracy

                Check out this table infographic comparing the participation aspects of debates versus dialogue. Civic engagement is a positive force for change.  In today's heated political environment, we must never forget that if we don't move forward in this nation (America), we'll be back-sliding into irrelevance on a global scale.

                Friday, August 17, 2012

                The political "power grab": Is it legal? Is it moral?

                The power grab is arguably the most divisive and controversial move in politics.  The Republican governors of Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida have attracted the ire of Democrats and others since 2011 to the point of attracting large, sustained protests.

                Some legal advocates have claimed some power grabs as unconstitutional; state and federal courts have been busy addressing the issue.  Some reformers question the morality of most power grabs; they claim the denial of compromise inherent in the moves deny other stakeholders' voices.

                Below are instances in nonprofit NGO websites of so-called "power grabs" that have happened in the last couple of years:

                "[1] House Committee Approves Controversial Data Retention Measure"
                August 2, 2011
                Judiciary Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was "not convinced [the bill] will contribute in any meaningful way to prosecuting child pornography." Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) stated that it is an "unprecedented power grab by the federal government - it goes way beyond fighting child pornography." Rep. Scott said that the data would be available for many other uses, including copyright prosecution and divorce cases, while Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated that retained data will be made available to law enforcement officers without a warrant or judicial oversight. Rep. Lofgren went so far as to propose an amendment to rename the bill the "Keep Every American's Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act." The amendment failed.

                "Statement - Mal Warwick"
                April 20, 2006
                I see developments during the present administration as largely an extension of disturbing trends that have been evident under both parties. One of those developments in particular is central to the increasing difficulties our nation and our society are experiencing both at home and abroad.  I am referring to the relentless accumulation of power by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  In itself, the arrogation of warrantless surveillance powers by the National Security Agency is frightening. As an extension of the increasing power of the presidency, it is profoundly disturbing. I do not believe our democracy can survive if this latest power grab is left standing.  What is left of American democracy if an agency of the United States Government, acting under the direction of the White House, can monitor our telephone and e-mail communications without notice, without prior clearance by the courts, and without any recourse in law?

                "Obama Team on Right Track in Defending Health Care Reform, Policy Expert Writes"
                American Constitution Society
                January 9, 2012
                Lazarus defends the administration’s case for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), saying before the current high court it looks best in the “Commerce-Clause format.” Lazarus concludes, in part, that a string of “eminent conservative appellate judges have blown off opponents’ demands to overturn this allegedly ‘unprecedented’ federal power-grab. On the contrary, Republican appointees have concluded that upholding the ACA mandate is compelled by the text of the Commerce Clause and Supreme Court precedent, that it is no more ‘coercive’ than other measures, such as dedicated taxes and tax write-offs undergirding major existing health-insurance laws, and even, that the ACA’s approach could be a valuable model for conservative designs to privatize other components of the social safety net.”

                "Florida Bar Must Prevent Gov. Scott’s Judicial Power Grab"
                Brennan Center for Justice
                January 17, 2012
                Last year the Florida legislature failed to pass a proposal to give the governor sole authority over naming the members of the state’s judicial nominating panel.  Currently, the governor appoints five members of each judicial nominating commission on his own, and the other four are chosen based on recommendations by the Florida Bar. Now, a bill advancing in the Florida House seeks to revise the state’s judicial merit selection system, including by allowing the governor to replace some members of the nominating commissions.  A Pensacola News Journal article highlights contrasting views on the proposal.  According to the Journal, Democratic Representative Marty Kiar fears the change would get rid of the independence of the commissions. In contrast, the bill’s sponsor Matt Gaetz, believes it would permit the governor to hold panel members accountable.

                "The GOP War on Regulations"
                Public Citizen
                October 20, 2011
                It’s hard to imagine a worse time for big business to conduct a full-blown attack on regulatory protections. The country continues to suffer from a deep recession caused in large part by financial deregulation and underenforcement of existing rules. A string of corporate disasters—the BP oil gusher, the Massey coal mine explosion, unintended acceleration in Toyota cars, leaded toys, killer cantaloupes—all tied directly to inadequate regulatory protections, are fresh in the public mind.  For the US Chamber of Commerce, however, the facts shouldn’t get in the way of a stupendous power grab. The Chamber and its allies on Capitol Hill have launched an unprecedented antiregulation campaign, with the goal of blocking new safeguards against corporate wrongdoing and rolling back environmental, health, financial and other regulatory protections.

                "U.S. Rep. Conyers Blasts Mich. Gov.’s Bill as ‘Opportunistic Power Grab’"
                American Constitution Society
                March 21, 2011
                The measure touted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as a way to ensure local governments can effectively respond to dire financial situations is "an unconstitutional swipe at minority communities and hardworking public workers," writes U.S. Rep. John Conyers in an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press. Gov. Snyder (pictured) who is backing the bill, which would give him the power to dissolve local government entities and nullify collective bargaining rights or workers, has attracted increasing attention nationwide for his effort and sparked massive protests at the state capitol. Conyers said the bill is being pushed "under the guise of Michigan's temporary financial distress," and amounts to "an opportunistic power grab by Republican state legislators and now the governor."

                Monday, August 13, 2012

                Republican Party bolsters its chances for a massive increase in its number of offices won for the 2012 elections

                >> The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification | Brennan Center for Justice:
                'via Blog this'

                "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification"
                By Keesha Gaskins and Sundeep Iyer
                Brennan Center for Justice
                July 17, 2012

                [Editor's Note: Go to U.S. Vote Foundation's State Voter Information Directory to find out what you need in order to vote in your own state.]

                • Ten states now have unprecedented restrictive voter ID laws. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin all require citizens to produce specific types of government-issued photo identification before they can cast a vote that will count. Legal precedent requires these states to provide free photo ID to eligible voters who do not have one.

                  • Unfortunately, these free IDs are not equally accessible to all voters. This report is the first comprehensive assessment of the difficulties that eligible voters face in obtaining free photo ID.

                    • The 11 percent of eligible voters who lack the required photo ID must travel to a designated government office to obtain one. Yet many citizens will have trouble making this trip. In the 10 states with restrictive voter ID laws:
                      • Nearly 500,000 eligible voters do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from the nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. Many of them live in rural areas with dwindling public transportation options.
                        • More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.
                          • 1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. People of color are more likely to be disenfranchised by these laws since they are less likely to have photo ID than the general population.
                            • Many ID-issuing offices maintain limited business hours. For example, the office in Sauk City, Wisconsin is open only on the fifth Wednesday of any month. But only four months in 2012 — February, May, August, and October — have five Wednesdays. In other states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas — many part-time ID-issuing offices are in the rural regions with the highest concentrations of people of color and people in poverty.

                              • More than 1 million eligible voters in these states fall below the federal poverty line and live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. These voters may be particularly affected by the significant costs of the documentation required to obtain a photo ID. Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. Marriage licenses, required for married women whose birth certificates include a maiden name, can cost between $8 and $20. By comparison, the notorious poll tax — outlawed during the civil rights era — cost $10.64 in current dollars.

                                • The result is plain: Voter ID laws will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of poor Americans to vote. They place a serious burden on a core constitutional right that should be universally available to every American citizen.

                                  • This November, restrictive voter ID states will provide 127 electoral votes — nearly half of the 270 needed to win the presidency. Therefore, the ability of eligible citizens without photo ID to obtain one could have a major influence on the outcome of the 2012 election.

                                  Sunday, August 12, 2012

                                  Download a voter protection smartphone app!

                                  >> Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App:
                                  'via Blog this'

                                  "Civil Rights Groups Release New Voter Protection App"
                                  by Greg Rosalsky
                                  Huffington Post
                                  August 9, 2012

                                  • "The Election Protection smartphone app is a dynamic tool that will educate voters on their rights and empower them to take action so they can vote," said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on a Thursday conference call with other organizations that developed the app.

                                    • The tool gives voters the ability to digitally verify their registration status, find their polling place, encourage their friends and family to vote, fill out voter registration forms, and contact election protection officials, amongst other means to encourage voting.

                                      • "There are efforts across the country to suppress the vote and these efforts have disproportionately affected Latino voters, which is why the NALEO educational fund is proud to join in this effort," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials Education Fund, on the call. Vargas said that a Spanish version of the app is expected to be released in coming weeks.

                                        • In addition to Election Protection's hotline of 1-866-OUR-VOTE, citizens can call for voting assistance at 1-888-VEY VOTA.

                                        Download the Election Protection Smartphone App

                                        Note: You must be on a smartphone in order to proceed with the download.

                                        Saturday, August 11, 2012

                                        New Book: "Citizenship: What Every American Needs to Know"

                                        >> NCoC: Book Release: Citizenship: What Every American Needs to Know:
                                        'via Blog this'

                                        "Book Release: Citizenship: What Every American Needs to Know"
                                        by NCoC
                                        June 29, 2012

                                        • A new book compiled by Brenda Star of StarGroup International will be hitting the shelves this July. Citizenship: What Every American Needs to Know is a compact easy-to-read, concise educational book about America: its history, its government and how it works.

                                          • Chapters in the book include two civics tests (with answers), an American history timeline, an overview of “how government works”, important historical documents, inspiring stories, information on volunteering, service-learning, the armed forces and much more. We also included resources, and names of organizations that are involved in civics education.

                                          You can order your copy(s) from StarGroup Books.

                                          Friday, August 10, 2012

                                          Sign up to be a poll worker or poll monitor for the 2012 General Elections

                                          >> Elections and Voting - Common Cause:
                                          'via Blog this'

                                          "Protecting the Vote"
                                          By Common Cause

                                          Join the Voter Protection Team

                                          Sign up to be a poll worker or poll monitor!

                                          Common Cause is coordinating a grassroots field effort to recruit and train election workers and poll monitors to provide voters with accurate information about their voting rights and access to the polls.

                                          Thursday, August 9, 2012

                                          How-to videos on getting a social change job

                                          WHAT IS iOnPoverty?:
                                          'via Blog this'

                                          "What is"

                                          • Interested in a social change career? Unemployed? Underemployed? Unhappy at a soul-less 9-5 job? 
                                            • Our videos are the cure for the common career challenge. See what your peers say or >> check the videos out:
                                              • Uncensored, no BS conversations with the info you need to get hired and make a difference.
                                                • Content you can't get anywhere else, like how to survive an interview ("Scared Shitless") or what you should (and should not) put on your résumé ("The Résumé Scam").
                                                  • We call our guests Pathfinders. You can call them your mentors, role models, inspiration and friends. 
                                                    • Get the power to work at changing the world. You (and the world) can’t afford to wait.

                                                    How to break the banks that stole from America

                                                    >> 5 Ways to Break the Banks That Stole from America |
                                                    'via Blog this'

                                                    "5 Ways to break the banks that stole from America"
                                                    by Stephen Lerner
                                                    August 9, 2012

                                                    • Two critical tools--the LIBOR fraud scandal and the potential to start exercising eminent domain to seize bank-owned properties--can supercharge the ongoing campaigns focused on Wall Street. For the first time we can align moral and legal arguments with real leverage to demand that banks renegotiate the debt that is bankrupting communities and drowning homeowners around the country. The single most important step we can take to address local budget deficits is to force banks to renegotiate toxic deals held by local government and to rewrite mortgages for underwater homeowners. Combined, this would pump hundreds of billions into local economies.

                                                      • It is time to REBEL against Wall Street and the big banks and to start fixing the economy and reclaim our democracy. There are five steps to this [details in article]:
                                                        • Renegotiate public and housing debt.
                                                          • Exercise eminent domain.
                                                            • Boycott big banks and move public money.
                                                              • Enact resolutions at local governments and pension funds.
                                                                • Litigate and legislate.

                                                                  • It is our responsibility to REBEL. All of our futures depend on it!

                                                                  Wednesday, August 8, 2012

                                                                  August 9, 2012 Occupy Art event in New York City: "Time in the Mind of the Anarchives"

                                                                  Occupy with Art - Blog:
                                                                  'via Blog this'

                                                                  >> "OAS Imaginary Movie: #TITMOTA 1 & 2"
                                                                  Occupy with Art
                                                                  August 8, 2012

                                                                  • The Occupational Art School commences its program auspiciously with "Time in the Mind of the Anarchive," a conversation-starter in two [2X∞] parts, #TITMOTA 1+2. The opening festivities slated for Thursday, August 9 at 7PM at Bat Haus in Bushwick include a presentation by Bold Jez, a/k/a Jez Bold, a/k/a Jeremy, a/k/a Jez3PREZ, etc., entitled "Recording Future History: Activist archivism in Occupy Wall Street." The actuality of our expo is N+1-oriented, so come prepared. It's a hot summer in Brooklyn, and 11 months after the first interventions in and around Wall Street popped up, the promise of occupation is a multi-faceted proposition, if not an outright seduction, to be fulfilled. #TITMOTA is therefore a beginning that looks behind us, over our shoulders.

                                                                    >> "[OAS NODE #1]: When is #TITMOTA? And why?"

                                                                    Occupy with Art
                                                                    August 4, 2012

                                                                    • Have you ever seen a work of art change over time?  Or watched a complex idea emerge from many unintentional steps?  For the Anarchives, process is product is process: each recorded moment brings a new iteration in an evolving work of art.  History itself is changing over time and each documented moment is an opportunity for a new interpretation.
                                                                    • Would you like to understand more?
                                                                    • Join Bold Jez, anarchivist, at the opening of the newly founded Occupational Art School for his 1st solo show called "TIME IN THE MIND OF THE ANARCHIVES."  Examine a collection of strange and familiar objects.  Discover what the universe looks like when refracted through the infinite panels of the K(rystalleido)scope.   Join him for a performance-presentation "Recording Future History: Activist archivism in Occupy Wall Street" to learn more about how the Anarchives altered recent history and informed the origins of OWS.
                                                                    • As stated by #Jez3Prez, anarchist candidate for Prezident, "In order to radically change our history, we must revolutionize our concept of time." The site of historical struggle can begin anywhere, and here it begins by infiltrating the archive.
                                                                    • *Time in the Mind of the Anarchives, Pt 1 [#TITMOTA][August 9, 2012 at OAS Node #1][BAT HAUS, Bushwick]
                                                                    • 7 pm Wander/wonder/wait/explore (discover drawings inside of journals, find movies inside books, look for scenes on the ceiling)
                                                                    • 8 pm  Presentation/Performance "Recording Future History: Activist archivism in Occupy Wall Street" featuring:
                                                                    • - #LiveReports from the 1st General Assembly of OWS 2011.Aug.2, "testing wall street" 2011.Sept.1, and the NY Fun Exchange [#NYFE] 2012.Sept.17
                                                                    • - #LiveReplays of Pre-Occupy Wall Street direct action stunts in Wall Street by the original OWS Arts and Culture Posse #OWSACP
                                                                    • (Facebook event:  )
                                                                      • *Time in the Mind of the Anarchives Pt 2 [#TITMOTA2]: Potluck/Potlache
                                                                      • Revolutionary Games, in collaboration with the Occupational Art School, invites you to the latest in its series of salons: the #TITMOTA2 Potluck & Potlache will be a free space to participate in an art exchange and give away of recipes, books, media, art...whatever items of substance that you want to send out into the world. This event is a community BBQ and potluck, a review & replay of the first #TITMOTA, and a playground for games, music, and memees; bring things to share with everyone. #OASNode0 invites you to a potlache of orphan works that we commit the annals of the Anarchives by documenting their current presence and sending them into the world with new stewards (who collect, care for, & document the item's changes over time). YOU could already be the new host of an item from the Anarchives! We invite you to bring something to send out as well, something of your own to share with the world through the collection of this revolutionary community archive. As with any valuable experience, expect to come away with more than you came...
                                                                      • (Facebook event: )

                                                                      Improve your activism with these tutorials

                                                                      >> Activism News: activism tutorial:
                                                                      'via Blog this'

                                                                      From time to time, we at Activism News post useful and practical activism guides found on the internet.  They include info like: how to contact elected officials, how to protest and how to communicate with police.

                                                                      See these articles posted since 2011-- they all have the tag "activism tutorial."  We will continue to individually post as more become available.

                                                                      Tuesday, August 7, 2012

                                                                      198 methods of civil resistance, with today's technology

                                                                      >> Civil Resistance 2.0 | 198 Nonviolent Methods Upgraded:
                                                                      'via Blog this'

                                                                      "Civil Resistance 2.0 | 198 Nonviolent Methods Upgraded"
                                                                      The Meta-Activism Project
                                                                      Last edit 23 days ago

                                                                      • The purpose of this research project is to revisit Gene Sharp's 198 methods of nonviolent protest within the context of new digital technologies and social media platforms.

                                                                      Three Google Docs spreadsheets list his methods, upgraded "2.0" methods and remarks.  A summary sheet concludes the work.

                                                                      Anyone may contribute to the web spreadsheets online.

                                                                      A cover story by Meta-Activism's blog gives additional information about the project.

                                                                      Monday, August 6, 2012

                                                                      During August, meet with your Congressperson while in home district

                                                                      >> Take Action:
                                                                      'via Blog this'

                                                                      "Meet Your Congressperson: Help Us Get Your Members of Congress to Combat Unlimited Secret Corporate Money in Elections"
                                                                      Public Citizen

                                                                      • Call your representative or senators today and set up a meeting this month to urge them to support a constitutional amendment and other reforms to thwart the corporate takeover of our democracy.

                                                                      During August, members of Congress will be in their home districts talking with the people.  Go to Public Citizen for instructions on how to set up your own meeting.

                                                                      Friday, August 3, 2012

                                                                      Is most of today's rhetoric by politicians helpful or harmful to the public?

                                                                      rhetoric   The art of using language so as to persuade or influence others. Although rhetoric is apparently opposed to the philosophical ideal of the exact pursuit of truth, their reconciliation has sometimes seemed desirable, most notably to Cicero. If one thinks of philosophy as a matter of argument rather than doctrine, as the academic sceptics did, then rhetoric is good practice in argument. The cultivation of this art was an important study in medieval universities, and began to regain ground with the belief, widely shared in the late 20th century, that all discourse and argument contains a political and persuasive core. See also postmodernism.  

                                                                      The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  David Weller.  3 August 2012  <>

                                                                      Today's politicians -- at least on the state and federal levels -- often engage in rhetoric to make their argument on an issue or idea.  Most news articles and blog posts have reported elected officials' and candidates' use of it in a negative light.

                                                                      To illustrate this point, here are quotes from civic engagement-oriented organizations' stories.

                                                                      A new FOX News poll throws into relief the effect anti-immigrant rhetoric has had on Latinos' views of the Republican Party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.  ~ Miryam Hazán, Demos, Mar 21, 2012

                                                                      A moderate rejects all of this. A moderate would reject that this country started as a polyarchy and is now an oligarchy. A moderate talks about the pluralist representative democracy we need to cherish and save. A moderate indulges in the rhetoric of partisanship, wants to be viewed as an independent, acknowledges the basic truisms of the most fashionable ideology all while tacking to the political center in matters of political survival.  ~ Larry Allred, Ballot Access News, May 12, 2012

                                                                      Moreover, it is worth remembering that the Affordable Care Act, despite the harsh rhetoric leveled at it, is actually a fairly moderate incremental reform. Critics paint “Obamacare” as socialist, or worse. But it is a far cry from a “single payer” plan...  ~ Keesha Gaskins, Brennan Center for Justice, 06/29/12

                                                                      Clear away the rhetoric, and what's mainly left are the odd early exit polls (which did show Kerry's lead in Ohio and Florida declining as Election Day went on and which ended up with the current national Bush-Kerry spread), troubling instances of bad electronic voting, and curious--or possibly curious--trends in Florida.  ~ David Corn, The Nation, Nov 9, 2004

                                                                      Of course, Obama’s rhetoric mattered immensely. “Hope” and “change” were tremendously attractive ideas, in part because they were simultaneously amorphous and positive: their almost calculated lack of specificity let each supporter layer his or her own expectations onto them freely. And besides providing supporters a powerful brand under whose umbrella they could gather, the overarching Obama image was a wonderful tool for recruiting friends, neighbors and family. Yes We Can! Come 2009, when lofty campaign rhetoric encountered the meat-grinder of the legislative process, the realities of governing would naturally come as a shock.  ~ cpd, e.politics, Aug 11, 2011

                                                                      Does rhetoric have a value in political discourse, and, if so, has it generally been used properly or has it been too often abused by politicians?  Facts are always important, but are they always available?

                                                                      Thursday, August 2, 2012

                                                                      Quickly determine and join your favorite presidential candidate's campaign!

                                                                      >> Project Vote Smart’s VoteEasy ™:
                                                                      'via Blog this'

                                                                      Project Vote Smart

                                                                      Using an easy, graphical webpage, compare your views on any or all of 13 national issues with those of the major party and top minor party presidential candidates.  Then, volunteer and support your preferred candidate's campaign!

                                                                      Ask the SEC for political campaign finance disclosure regulation

                                                                      >> Transparency for Corporate Political Spending: A Federal Solution | Brennan Center for Justice:
                                                                      'via Blog this'

                                                                      "Transparency for Corporate Political Spending: A Federal Solution"
                                                                      By David Earley and Ian Vandewalker
                                                                      Brennan Center for Justice
                                                                      August 1, 2012

                                                                      • In an era of skyrocketing election spending, corporations have the ability to secretly spend millions of dollars on politics. Demand for information about corporate political spending has increased among investors and the general public in the years since Citizens United was decided. A new Brennan Center for Justice report details the extent of the problem of anonymous political expenditures and advocates for a viable solution. The Securities and Exchange Commission should issue regulations requiring publicly traded companies to include information about their political spending in their mandatory disclosures. 

                                                                      Download the Report (PDF) or read the Introduction.

                                                                      Work cited (Using MLA 7):
                                                                      Earley, David, and Ian Vandewalker. Transparency for Corporate Political Spending: A Federal Solution. Rep. Brennan Center for Justice, 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 2 Aug. 2012. <>.