Friday, January 28, 2011

Let it Expire

DemandProgress.org, in the inbox:

The PATRIOT Act is set to expire in just FOUR WEEKS, but Congress is trying to rush through a last minute extension -- and we need to fight back now!

Since it was passed almost a decade ago, some of the most noxious portions of the PATRIOT Act have burrowed their way deep into our legal system -- and last week Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) introduced legislation to extend them.

Will you click here, and urge your elected officials to let the PATRIOT Act expire?

Together, these provisions make a mockery of our civil liberties:  They let government officials spy on whomever they want, for any reason, without ever letting them know or giving them a chance to challenge the order in court.

Enough is enough: Will you join us in demanding that Congress finally let these provisions expire?

Just click here and we'll send a message to your senator, representative, and President Obama.

Thanks for taking a stand.

 -- The Demand Progress team

P.S. Please consider forwarding this message on to your friends, so we can make sure lawmakers hear from as many people as possible over the next four weeks.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TODAY: Public Forum on Utah's Foreclosure Crisis

Via Utah Senate Democrats:

Representative LaVar Christensen and Senator Ben McAdams, working with the forum’s sponsors, are hosting a public forum and panel discussion that will examine the scope of the home foreclosure crisis in Utah and listen to frustrations of individuals and families who have lost their homes due to foreclosures. Christensen and McAdams are both proposing legislation in the 2011 legislative session that would implement a foreclosure mediation program similar to programs adopted by various other states. They are seeking input through this forum on how a Utah home foreclosure mediation program could be structured.

When:   Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 4 pm.

Where:  Senate Building, Room 201, Utah State Capitol Complex.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The MLK You Don't See on TV

Crossposted at MyDD.

FAIR finds a nugget in the archives. A column by column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon dispelling any notion, as DOD Chief Counsel Jeh suggested last week, that today's wars are in-line with King's humanitarianism, and illustrating how far we're still off from achieving his dream:

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights"--including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

[...]

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967--and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington--engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be--until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor"--appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness.
The column, written in 1995, wraps with a condemnation of a Congress and a mass media complacent toward income inequality and poverty in our country.

16 years after this column, 43 years after King's assasination, it's worth asking ourselves how much closer we are to the vision Reverend King fought for.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons from California: Talk to More Voters, Win

Crossposted at MyDD

Just stumbled across this months old post by Raven Brooks, Top 5 Lessons at Netroots California, and the successes and failures of 2010.

Two key takeaways from his takeaways:

The first session of the day featured a great presentation by Seiji Carpenter at David Binder Research and Bryan Blum at the California Labor Federation filled in a lot of detail on some innovative things labor did this cycle. You can find Seiji’s presentation here and I’d encourage you to page through it. There’s a lot of meat to this presentation, but I wanted to highlight a few things.

[...]

* The campaign and IEs were able to focus on key demographics. They prevented Whitman from building a base among women. Undecideds moved toward Brown. Latinos came home to Brown and turned out in record numbers (a special shout out to SEIU’s Cambiando campaign here). Working class voters favored Brown. And in a historic shift Asian Americans overwhelmingly broke for Brown.

* Labor ran a program called Million More Voters that was intended to target voters with similar qualities to union members, and they identified 2.8 million people. Asian Americans were more than twice as likely to be targets so they invested a lot of time in researching those communities, something that hasn’t been done on a large scale in California before.
And
A wide spectrum of organizations put in a lot of voter contact work here, made some impressive new moves this cycle, and increased funding for these activities.
But this has been a debate that’s raged on for a while in California. Most of the money spent in campaigns is for TV time. Our consulting class makes big money pushing this tactic so it’s hard to advocate change and more effective uses of that money. I think this election began to show the effectiveness of field operations in California in ways other cycles haven’t. Some of the biggest wins here were won without large budgets for TV.
With Brown (and Reid in NV), mid-summer criticisms seemed warranted.  Both campaigns were getting rolled by opponents who repeatedly self-destructed and were allowed to regain footing.  But, as Brooks writes, we were wrong.  Reid's margin was ludicrously slim, considering the opposition, Browns much better.  But both went old school, and won.

California will be 2010's story of progressive organizing success.  A relative success?  Sure.  Flawed?  Brooks describes a lack of coalition between orgs, and the familiar clash of independent field organizing and the consulting culture permeating campaigns.  But there also other big wins in defeating Prop 23 and protecting redistricting reform.

There's no revelation here, but it's somewhat comforting to be reminded there's always a simple truth at play, regardless of the odds: Talk to more voters, and win.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No matter how many times you read it on the House floor...

Great paragraph today from Ezra Klein in response to the laughable GOP theater this morning over the constitution read:

If the Constitution is both unerring and obviously on the side of you and your policies, well, that's a powerful ally indeed. And that's a view that minority parties tend to find convenient, as even a presidential election can't override the Constitution. But when you admit that it's a more checkered document that has required both changes and reinterpretations as American history has moved forward, that leaves you in more difficult territory. As Dahlia Lithwick writes, "No matter how many times you read the document on the House floor, cite it in your bill, or how many copies you can stuff into your breast pocket without looking fat, the Constitution is always going to raise more questions than it answers and confound more readers than it comforts. And that isn't because any one American is too stupid to understand the Constitution. It's because the Constitution wasn't written to reflect the views of any one American."