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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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”.

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And this morning I found this:

‘Nuff said.

The good old days are gone. Now we need the good new days.

Adapted from Narinder Sander’s Facebook post:

You were poor but achieved a comfortable lifestyle through hard work and education. Why can’t poor people today do the same thing you did? Because when you worked:

  1. Business gave as much loyalty to their employees as the employees did to them. If you worked hard, you had a job for life.
  2. Trade unions protected workers’ safety and negotiated pay that was fair to employer and employee.
  3. Every town had a local bank. Their customers were their neighbors.
  4. Every town had local businesses. Their customer were their neighbors.
  5. A family could survive with one wage erner — even if the job only paid the minimum wage.
  6. A major illness did not destroy a lifetime of savings.
  7. Schools were free to every child and prepared them for whatever goals they had.
  8. Companies within an industry were abundant and competitive. Product quality and customer service were as imporant as price.

Think about all this, and then ask yourself: What changed? Why did your company start bailing on you and your fellow employees and earn your distrust? What happened to your local bank? your local businesses? Why did your medical expenses get so high? What happened to the quality of what you buy? Why do you usually get the poor service you get at a big-box store?

Ask yourself these things, and think about why these things are true.

Then get angry, a little. Use that anger, and start fixing things.

The right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre

Seems that the queen bee of Islamophobia won her court case against New York MTA:

New Yorkers are going to start seeing this disgusting piece of hatred hung in subway stations and bus stops.

The First Amendment covers the right to speak out as one pleases. It does not cover incitement to fear and violence.

As Joe comments,

“Apparently Geller believes a lasting peace can be won by calling 700,000 New Yorkers ‘savages’.”

Life imitates art. People die. Media assigns blame. (With follow-up)

OMFG.

I’ve read the damned thing two dozen times, easily, and the parallel got right past me.

Note particularly the observation:

“The passage concludes with the media blaming Batman for inspiring the shooting, though he is not involved in the incident at all.”

However, we all need to remember one thing: the Batman would not take a life. Ever. No matter the cost.

Now watch the “million mommies”, gun nuts, general wackaloons, and the mainstream media have a field day.

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FOLLOW-UP 7/21/2012: Told ya.

Jim Hoft, Andrew Breitbart’s bitch:

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Fred Jackson, news director for the AFA:

[L]ike the Batman murders, our nation’s 55-plus million abortion murders post Roe v. Wade are not the cause of our culture of death; they are merely a symptom. Ultimately, the cause stems from something much less complicated. We as a nation – as a people – have turned our backs on God.”

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Matt Barber:

The AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible, they no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God. We are seeing his judgment. You know, some people talk about ‘God’s judgment must be just around the corner,’ we are seeing it.”

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Bryan Fisher:

[Judges] said we cannot permit potential mass murderers like James Holmes to read or meditate on God’s prohibition ‘Thou shall not murder’ as a part of their education, because someone like him just might be inclined to ‘venerate and obey’ it and not go on a midnight shooting rampage leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.”

Some thoughts about anarchism, responsibility, and fundamentalism

From Emma Goldman:

“Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals”

“Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination.”

Alan Moore:

“Since mankind’s dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We’ve seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.”

“It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing, one loud noise, and it’s gone. But the people are so cowed and disorganised. A few might take the opportunity to protest, but it’ll just be a voice crying in the wilderness. Noise is relative to the silence preceding it. The more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap. Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations, Evey, and it is much, much louder than they care to remember.”

Anarchism got a bad rap in the early 20th century, mostly due to its use in reference to bomb-lobbing wackjobs who called their cause “anarchy” but really just wanted power.

Much like today’s bomb-lobbing wackjobs, that call their cause “right-to-life”.

Or “Islam”.

Or “Christianity”.

“For I can raise no money by vile means…”

 

“…By heaven, I had rather coin my heart
And drop my blood for drachmas than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection.” –Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

They say you should never consider just one issue when selecting who to vote for in elections.

I have in the past given Barack Obama grief for his continuance of the Patriot Act (and in particular its suspension of habeas corpus). I have frowned at his refusal to shut down the “enemy combatants” prison in Guantanamo Bay. I’ve berated his refusal to support same-sex marriage. And I have raked him over the coals for continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

I now have to take two of those admonishments back. Last month Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, in the light of full civil rights for all citizens.

And now he’s using Robert Gibbs, his press secretary and proxy, to announce that the tax cuts for the well-to-do will be allowed to expire:

CROWLEY: Do you think the president will do anything other than veto a bill that would keep those Bush tax cuts for everyone intact?

GIBBS: We should protect the tax cuts for the middle-class, and we should let tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires expire.

CROWLEY: Even though recovery is not that great, and people say don’t take money out of this economy, it is not the time for a tax hike, you would go ahead and do it for those making $250,000 and above.

GIBBS: We ought to do something about this deficit, and we ought to protect middle class tax cuts, and the best way to do that is to let the upper-end tax cuts expire, let the wealthy in this country that had been doing fine for years and years and years begin to pay their fair share, and make sure that we protect the tax rate that middle-class families have had for the past many years.

CROWLEY: So the president is totally committed to getting rid of the tax cut for those making $250,000 and above.

GIBBS: Let’s make some progress on our spending by doing away with tax cuts for people who quite frankly don’t need them, tax cuts that have not worked, and have them pay their fair share.

CROWLEY: So is that a yes or a no? The president is completely committed to this, he won’t allow it to happen?

GIBBS: He is 100 percent committed to it.

Mr. Obama continues to become more and more attractive as a candidate.

“Half of history is hiding the truth.”

A Facebooker I know posted a month-old story from Forbes concerning the suicide of Mary Richardson Kennedy.

The article goes on:

In 1941, Robert Kennedy Jr.’s aunt, Rosemary Kennedy, born with developmental problems, underwent a lobotomy that resulted in her spending the rest of her life institutionalized. She died in 2005.

Three years later, the eldest Kennedy uncle, Joseph Kennedy Jr, died in a plane crash while on a bombing mission over the Channel during the second world war. In 1948 another plane crash in France killed a sister, Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish, at 28.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated with his wife at his side as his presidential motorcade rolled through Dallas, Texas.

In 1968, Robert’s father, Robert F. Kennedy Sr., was assassinated at age 42 in Los Angeles following his victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary election.

Thirteen months later, while returning from a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts with a aide Mary Jo Kopechne, Edward “Ted” Kennedy drove off a bridge and the car ended up in the water. Kennedy managed to escape, but Kopechne drowned. The event left a negative mark on Ted Kennedy’s political career.

In 1984, David Kennedy, one of Robert Kennedy’s 11 children, died at age 28 of an overdose of cocaine and other drugs. Thirteen years later, Michael, another of Robert’s sons, was killed when he hit a tree while skiing in Aspen, Colorado.

In 1999, Robert Jr.’s cousin, John Kennedy Jr., died with his wife and sister-in-law when their small plane crashed into the Atlantic near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

There are those that go on about the “Kennedy curse” or the “Kennedy tragedy”. Well, the history that is recorded always reflects the viewpoint of those in power.

1. Rosemary Kennedy did not have developmental problems. She was a wild child who partied and slept around, and her father (Joe Sr.) couldn’t control her. He finally had her lobotomized and institutionalized in a convent in Wisconsin so as not to bring “shame” to the Kennedy family. (This seems to be the Kennedy version of honor killings.)

2. Joe Jr. was a bomber pilot during WWII. His death was sad, but then so were the deaths of the other 10-million plus folks who died due to that war.

3. John F. and Robert were both murdered, and that was indeed tragic (the only items listed in the article that were).

4. The Chappaquiddick incident was tragic, but for the Kopechne family not the Kennedys. Ted Kennedy took Ms. Kopechne from the party they were attending in order to fuck her in the back of the car. Being too drunk to drive safely, however, he drove both of them into the water. Twelve hours after he pulled himself from the car (leaving Ms. Kopechne to drown), Kennedy finally bothered to call the police to report the incident. This incident should have fried his political career summarily and put him behind bars.

5. David Kennedy was one of the original party boys, and drugged himself to death. Small loss.

6. Michael Kennedy and his friends were warned repeatedly by ski resort guards not to play “ski football” on the slopes because it was too dangerous. Kennedy laughed and ignored the advice, and ran smack into a huge spruce tree trying to retrieve a pass. Good riddance.

7. John Kennedy Jr. was an arrogant prick who was not certified to fly IFR (by instruments), and there was a thick fog that night. He was warned by the airport authorities that he should not fly, and he told them to go fuck themselves, thus killing himself, his wife, and her sister. End of story.

In short — there is no tragedy here. Just a run of bad luck that every large family runs across, combined with the arrogance and shortsightedness of many members of the family.

Oh, and the patriarch of this clan, Joseph Kennedy Senior, made the family’s fortune by breaking the law and running booze from Canada during Prohibition, and setting up molasses-to-rum distilleries in the West Indies to run booze from the Caribbean to America.

“The fault, dear Cassius, is not in the stars but in ourselves.”

In the boldest journalistic move I’ve seen in years, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal had this as their entire front page yesterday:

Here’s the editorial that followed:

Siouxland lost a young life to a senseless, shameful tragedy last week. By all accounts, Kenneth Weishuhn was a kind-hearted, fun-loving teenage boy, always looking to make others smile. But when the South O’Brien High School 14-year-old told friends he was gay, the harassment and bullying began. It didn’t let up until he took his own life.

Sadly, Kenneth’s story is far from unique. Boys and girls across Iowa and beyond are targeted every day. In this case sexual orientation appears to have played a role, but we have learned a bully needs no reason to strike. No sense can be made of these actions.

Now our community and region must face this stark reality: We are all to blame. We have not done enough. Not nearly enough.

This is not a failure of one group of kids, one school, one town, one county or one geographic area. Rather, it exposes a fundamental flaw in our society, one that has deep-seated roots. Until now, it has been too difficult, inconvenient — maybe even painful — to address. But we can’t keep looking away.

In Kenneth’s case, the warnings were everywhere. We saw it happen in other communities, now it has hit home. Undoubtedly, it wasn’t the first life lost to bullying here, but we can strive to make it the last.

The documentary Bully, which depicts the bullying of an East Middle School student, opened in Sioux City on Friday. We urge everyone to see it. At its core, it is a heart-breaking tale of how far we have yet to go. Despite its award-winning, proactive policies, we see there is still much work to be done in Sioux City schools.

Superintendent Paul Gausman is absolutely correct when he says “it takes all of us to solve the problem.” But schools must be at the forefront of our battle against bullying.

Sioux City must continue to strengthen its resolve and its policies. Clearly, South O’Brien High School needs to alter its approach. We urge Superintendent Dan Moore to rethink his stance that “we have all the things in place to deal with it.” It should be evident that is simply not the case.

South O’Brien isn’t the only school that needs help. A Journal Des Moines bureau report last year demonstrated that too many schools don’t take bullying seriously. According to that report, Iowa school districts, on average, reported less than 2 percent of their students had been bullied in any given year since the state passed its anti-bullying law in 2007. That statistic belies the actual depth of this problem, and in response the Iowa Department of Education will implement a more comprehensive anti-bullying and harassment policy in the 2012-13 school year.

But as Gausman and Nate Monson, director of Iowa Safe Schools, are quick to remind us, this is more than a school problem. If we want to eradicate bullying in our community, we can’t rely on schools alone.

We need to support local agencies like the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention and national efforts like the one described at stopbullying.gov. Bullying takes many forms, some of them – Internet, Facebook, cell phone – more subtle than others. Parents should monitor the cell phone and Internet usage of their children. All public and private institutions need to do more to demonstrate that bullying is simply unacceptable in our workplaces and in our homes. We need to educate ourselves and others.

Some in our community will say bullying is simply a part of life. If no one is physically hurt, they will say, what’s the big deal? It’s just boys being boys and girls being girls.

Those people are wrong, and they must be shouted down.

We must make it clear in our actions and our words that bullying will not be tolerated. Those of us in public life must be ever mindful of the words we choose, especially in the contentious political debates that have defined our modern times. More importantly, we must not be afraid to act.

How many times have each of us witnessed an act of bullying and said little or nothing? After all, it wasn’t our responsibility. A teacher or an official of some kind should step in. If our kid wasn’t involved, we figured, it’s none of our business.

Try to imagine explaining that rationale to the mother of Kenneth Weishuhn.

It is the business of all of us. More specifically, it is our responsibility. Our mandate.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge our community has yet to view bullying in quite this way. It’s well past time to do so.

Stand up. Be heard. And don’t back down. Together, we can put a stop to bullying.

It’s too late for Kenneth Weishuhn, and Phoebe Prince, and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, and Ty Field, and Alexis Pilkington, and Megan Meier, and Ryan Hallington, and all the other kids (children, dammit!) who have hung themselves, shot themselves, jumped off heights, or did whatever they could do to make the pain stop.

But we can help stop it from happening again.

“Why do we do this the hard way, Sergeant?” “Because I said so!”

My oldest son is currently living this nightmare in the armed forces.

Don’t you see this every day? People making the same bad financial choices, the same bad life choices, the same bad moral choices.

Today, make different choices, better choices. Take a walk rather than watch the game on the tube. Read a book instead of spending hours web browsing. Play a board game with your kids and avoid the latest “reality” show. Volunteer for a charity near to your heart, drop by your neighbor and say, “Hello”, or donate to a worthy cause.

Do something right.

Socialism in the Bible?? Say it ain’t so!

Acts 4:32-35:

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

“And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

Luke 12:23:

“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”

Remember…