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.


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.


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.

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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:


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.


Great Internet Truth #7

If anything preserves true representative government anywhere in this world during the 21st century, it will be transparency in the media and in government enforced by use of the internet.

From the Sunlight Foundation:


We know that at the heart of the open, transparent government we seek is ‘open’ government data that is available online and in real-time.

Government information should be as accessible to us as information about the weather, sports scores or knowing what’s going on in the stock market — and we need it to be this way so we can both hold government accountable and create new enterprise with what is made available to us.

Read the essay. It’s well worth your time.

What I did during my break from blog writing

I haven’t written on this blog since November 2. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

  1. On Tuesday 11/6, the 2012 U.S. election cycle is over (Боже мой!), and I was happy to see the end of it. Obama won (yay!), the attempt to codify “traditional marriage” in our state’s constitution was defeated (yayyay!), and it would seem that billionaire conservative donors didn’t make much headway. (Every candidate funded by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS was defeated.)
  2. On Thursday 11/8, we went to pick up our crockpot from the Shoreview office for Minnesotans United for All Families. The Spouse and the Horsemen (her boys) all worked like dogs on this campaign; we were all determined that legal discrimination against gays was not to be borne — certainly not in any state we live in! Now we’re all thinking about how to get the anti-gay-marriage law repealed and make Minnesota the 11th American jurisdiction to recognize true marriage equality.
  3. On Saturday 11/10, I took a tumble going down a steep and slippery hill, got my foot turned under me, and ended up with a very badly dislocated foot (the talus bone of my left foot was rotated 30° to the outside). I also got three cracks at the end of my tibia. Reduction took care of the dislocation, and surgery next week will deal with the cracks. Horseman #4’s reaction to watching the reduction was “Cool!”

What cool things have you folks been up to lately?

A night of heroes; or, Yet another reason to protect our public-sector jobs

Here is the another story about fire fighters doing their jobs:

Firefighters are battling a six-alarm fire in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. Officials say the fire was reported at about 11 p.m. Monday…

The interesting thing about this story? The fire took place last night. In New York City. During Hurricane Sandy.

Firefighter personnel saved scores of people from the fire, sometimes maneuvering hoses through chest-deep water.


The backup power generator at NYU Langone Medical Center failed, forcing evacuation of patients, including 20 babies from the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit), all during 60-mph winds and torrential rain.


A construction crane on 57th Street came loose from its moorings and is dangling 75 stories in the air by entangled cables. The NYC Building Department sent inspectors up into the building (during a freakin’ hurricane!) to assess the situation; a spokesman described the inspectors as “the best of the best”.


And this morning I found this:

‘Nuff said.

Well-sung, and well struck!

From playwright Doug Wright:

I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights.
Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.”
It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you ‘disagree’ with your candidate on these issues.

(tip o’ th’ hat to Joe)

This is *exactly* the point!

Watch all of the video, please.

Two good developments in the fight for marriage equality in Minnesota

The first is a video from David Blankenhorn. You all remember David, right? The expert witness testifying for California’s Prop 8? The guy who spent a decade trying to convince people that gay marriage was bad.

Be prepared to be surprised.

(I couldn’t get the YouTube link to load properly, so here’s a local copy.)

The second is an announcement of a streaming event featuring a debate concerning marriage equality between Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe…and an empty chair.

No, really.

It’s at 17:00 CDT on 10/19/2012.  That’s today! Right now! Go watch it !

(There will be a recording of it, so if you miss it, you can see it here later.)

*You* are the “job creator”

Everyone’s heard of the old Reagan-era trickle-down economics chestnut called “job creator”. According to David Stockman, and with the enthusiastic support of the newly-elected Right in power in Washington in 1981, the key to creating new jobs was to ensure greater economic inequality in America by lowering taxes on the rich, and spendspendspend.

In recent years Stockman has repudiated his advocacy for trickle-down (or “supply-side economics”, as he used to describe it).

Other capitalists have done the same, including such entrepreneurs as Nick Hanauer. Here’s what he had to say in a recent TED talk:

“Here’s an idea worth spreading: In a capitalist economy the true job creators are middle-class consumers, and taxing the rich to make investments, to make the middle class grow and thrive is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle class, for the poor, and for the rich.”

The real clue that Hanauer knew whereof he spoke was that TED management did not put the talk online until there was an uproar about the exclusion. (It’s no longer posted, BTW.)

(I’ve talked about this talk before, but it’s well worth a repeat.)

“And you knew who you were then/Girls were girls and men were men”

As Dan Savage urges all his readers, “blog this!” everywhere.

No sooner said than done.

Archie: Well, who the hell wants people like that teaching our kids?! I’m sure God don’t! God’s sittin’ in judgment!

Edith: Well, sure he is, but he’s God. You ain’t!Archie, listen, you wouldn’t want to be the cause of somebody losin’ their job! Archie, she’s all alone in the world now and she’s got nobody to take care of her like I have. And she can’t help how she feels. And she didn’t hurt you, so why should you wanna hurt her? Archie, I can’t believe you’d do anything that mean.

(Emphasis Dan’s and mine.)

“Ya wanna see ‘grassroots’? Here’s ya some goddamn grassroots!”

I’m live-blogging at Minneapolis’ Big Gay Race this morning.

For haters that claim that they represent the majority of Minnesotans by spitting in the face of our gay friends and neighbors (and in my case, a gay son who’s defending our country), here are pictures of real grassroots.



I don’t see 6000 “vote for traditional marriage” folks having fun together and gathering to raise money and awareness for what they believe in.

Perhaps that’s the real difference.