How to be a more active progressive in seven easy steps

Ran across this site today, and I thought there was good advice here that I’d pass on.

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How to Be a More Active Progressive in Seven Easy Steps

This list is not intended to be didactic.  Revise it.  Expand it.  Print it and use it as cat litter box liner.  In other words, feel free to do with it as you please.  But I have a feeling it will be helpful to more than a handful of folks out there—including myself!

I’m holding myself to 500 words.  The rest is up to you.

1.  Know Thy Political Self

What worked for Plato still works today.  Here’s a three-page “know thy political self” challenge:

Sheet 1:  Compose your personal political philosophy.  That’s about 500 words on a computer.

Sheet 2:  Write a top-ten list of political issues that matter to you.  Could be municipal, state, national, international issues.  Provide a short description of what you believe about each issue.

Sheet 3:  Write down your personal political activity in the past year.  Could contain anything from “I voted” to “I delivered a speech at the U.N.”.

2a.  Create a Politician Contact List:  Display It Everywhere

I suspect that if we simply took 30 minutes to make it easier to contact politicians, we would.  Create a politician contact list for categories related to your political existence (local, state, national, etc.).  Include email addresses, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, etc.

Put it multiple places.  Your refrigerator.  Your iPhone.  Make laminated dining table placemats—should lead to interesting conversations this Thanksgiving. (Most state websites provide a simple way to list politicians who answer to your vote.)

2b.  Become a Politician

[Does not apply to anyone currently engaged in a sex scandal.]

3.  Support Your Local U.S. Post Office

Step 1.  Take out 12 Envelopes.

Step 2.  Take out 12 Stamps.

Step 3.  Affix said stamps to said envelopes and write your return address on each envelope.

Step 4.  Put a sticky note on each envelope:  November 1, December 1, etc.

Step 5.  Each month, write a one-page letter to a politician about an issue that matters to you.  You already have a political contact list.  It doesn’t have to be long; in fact, the more succinct, the better.

Get in the habit of communicating this way with politicians.  Politicians pay attention to hardcopy letters.

Representative Joe “You Lie” Wilson and I have nothing in common other than our male anatomy.  I once mailed him a letter about a problem I was having with a federal agency.  Shortly thereafter, I received an apology letter from the agency, accompanied by the information I needed, plus a copy of Representative Wilson’s letter to the agency.

Calls and emails matter.  But a mailed letter is a signal to a politician that you are really concerned.

If you truly want to impress, deliver your letter in person with 10,000 of your closest friends.

4.  Plug-in to Quality Political Information

Go back to your top-ten political issues list.  Connect to groups that are trustworthy sources of information for particular subjects.  (Example:  World Wildlife Fund for conservation.)  Trust me, these groups will tell you how to contribute to the cause. Do your research and ensure their trustworthiness.

5.  Participate in a Political Rally or Protest

Pledge to attend one political rally or protest before the November 2014 election.  You don’t have to participate; it’s okay to be a bystander.  It could even be for a political cause you don’t support.  Just make the effort “to be there.”  The hardest part of dancing is stepping onto the floor.

6.  Don’t patronize Walmart.

While I recognize that it’s virtually impossible to spend one’s life weighing whether or not to support a commercial entity based on a political calculus, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to put some research and thought into where one spends one’s hard-earned cash.

For me, that’s Walmart and a handful of other companies, including one which happens to have a clown in a red and yellow costume as a spokesperson—and, no, I’m not talking about the CEO of Chik-fil-A.

7.  VOTE. EVERY. TIME. YOU. CAN.

We have this many days before we can finally rid our asses of a good number of blithering, anti-progressive, meat puppets. Vote, and urge your friends and neighbors to vote.

A gleam of sunshiny sanity from SCOTUS

From Chief Justice Roberts concerning the overturn of DOMA:

“The Court does not have before it, and the logic of its opinion does not decide, the distinct question whether the States . . . may continue to utilize the traditional definition of marriage.”

Better words could not describe it.

UPDATE: Proposition 8 is overturned based on standing. So here is the legal picture:

ssm_map

Why I love romantic realism in art

romanticrealism

I live in the world as it is. That is why naturalistic art bores me. I want to experience what might be.

That’s why I read so much speculative fiction, and why I enjoy Turner, and Rodin, and Conrad, and Doestoevsky, and Dickens  — the best of such artists show us what the world could be, or what it should be, or what we dread it to be.

He who has the gold makes the rules, chapter 341

gaspricemap

The above is proof that 1)the world is not full of angels, 2) as a result, government regulation is needed, and 3) because corporate greedheads are everywhere.

You wanna know why North Dakota and the northern half of Minnesota have the highest gas prices in the nation? It’s because two local refineries, and three of the four regional gasoline refineries, did their usual spring shutdown for maintenance and formulation changing for summer driving — at the same time.

The average price of gas in April was $3.46; today it’s $4.16.

Was this a calculated move? Did businesses with dollar signs in their eyes plan this?  Does a bear shit in the Minnesota Boundry Waters regularly?

Republican public policy in a nutshell

randpaul

You can’t buy this level of irony. From Senator Rand Paul (R-KY):

…Sen. Rand Paul claimed Sunday there was a “written policy” floating around the agency that said IRS officials were “targeting people who were opposed to the president.

When CNN pressed Senator Paul on details, his response was:

“Well, we keep hearing the reports and we have several specifically worded items saying who was being targeted. In fact, one of the bullet points says those who are critical of the president. So I don’t know if that comes from a policy, but that’s what’s being reported in the press and reported orally. I haven’t seen a policy statement, but I think we need to see that.”

It is said that the most chilling three-word phrase used at Faux News isn’t “fair and balanced”, it’s Some people say…

As in, “Some people say the administration knew about the Benghazi attacks before they happened, and did nothing“. Or “Some people say that Obamacare will wipe out health care for the poor“. Or “Some people say that human-instigated climate change is a complete hoax.

Never let it be said that individuals can’t make a difference in this world

Goodness and Truth Marriage equality supporters have won another victory over the Forces of Darkness the dinosaurs.

The Minnesota senate has passed its marriage equality bill 37-30. Gay marriage begins in the Great Frozen North on August 1.

That’s two victories for this fine state, and we’re the 12th state to outlaw yet another form of discrimination.

minnesotamarriage

Repeat anything often enough, and it seems to become truth

monopolyAnyone curious as to the small print on that story about the IRS targeting applications by political organizations transparently disguised as tax-exempt 501(c)4 organizations that mostly turned out to be started by conservative causes?

Remember the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court? the decision that removed any sane financial cap on donations for political campaigns? the decision that has pushed our country far along the spectrum to a plutocratic oligarchy?

Yeah, that decision.

It seems that as a result of Citizens United, there was a doubling of the usual rate of applications to create tax-exempt organizations between 2010 and 2012. Such a change in the number of requests naturally sparked suspicion within the IRS, and some IRS offices began using keywords to single out certain requests.

The IRS has apologized for the issue. No organization was denied a request as a result of this profiling. No damage was done, the hoorah raised by dozens of conservative pundits and self-righteous politicians notwithstanding. However, those nabobs of negativism are demanding rolling heads and a presidential apology from That Skeery Black Man in the White House.

Gone for now, folks

I haven’t posted in weeks, and I finally put my finger on why.

I’m preaching to the choir, and while that can be satisfying in its way, it isn’t enough.

I appreciate those folk who came to visit, and to participate in the community. Thanks so much for that.