I must admit that my blog writing this week was not as intellectually stimulating as others. In putting this show together I realized I could have done better.
What was missing was more solutions or technical explanations of the problems the nation confronts. All the resources for this type of information is on my site yet this week much of it went unused as I complained about the media coverage of the president, GOP hypocrisy and other stuff. I reread most of the blogs and while informative, they were a bit exploitative. Don’t get me wrong, I try to make my headlines interesting to get eyeballs, but usually try to ensure much more substance than I had this week.
I will be doing the show today from Lone Star College – Montgomery. Before the show I will be giving a talk on wealth and income inequality to a fairly conservative group. I will have my mixer and other radio equipment there to get started immediately afterwards. The show will a continuation of the topic.
The Keystone XL Pipeline approval process is a charade.
Our show on today will focus on the Keystone XL Pipeline as evidence of the corruption in our political system: campaign contributions are once again trumping the will of the people. Credo Action has gone to the mat on this one. (My post on their official comment page follows.) I hope YOU will call in on Thursday and tell us what you know about this project, the science and the politics in play as you see it.
***Just announced*** Author and former Exxon VP, J.D. Messinger will join the conversation today and share his insights from working within the energy industry and how he has changed his life since leaving Exxon.
Jeanene’s Public Comment for Review on the Keystone XL (You can make yours here.)
The Keystone XL Pipeline approval process is a charade.
It is the current best example of how our elected are beholden to their campaign funders to the detriment of their voters.
Lobbyists and contractors are having more to say about what is and is not considered in this decision than is respectable or responsible. Just the appearance of impropriety should cause a government of the people to change course. I am sorry to say this does not appear to be happening.
From Credo Action “The president delivered inspiring rhetoric on climate action during his inaugural speech. But it is his decision on Keystone XL which will determine his legacy on climate. If approved, Keystone XL will be the Obama Tar Sands Pipeline and it will, as our own government's top climate scientist James Hansen has explained, mean "game over" for our fight to stop global warming.”
There is too much information that raises questions about how prudent this endeavor would be for the environment or the economy. This much doubt should result in a NO vote, rather than a hopeful and optimistic yes. We cannot afford for you to be wrong about this.
Credo went to the unusual step of emailing this to Debilyn two weeks ago:
Friend — This is not the usual CREDO email. With the release last Friday of the State Department's favorable environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline, we thought long and hard about the right way to respond; to get President Obama's attention, and to convince him to change course and reject this catastrophic project.
Here's what we think is necessary to meet the moment: a pledge to resist Keystone XL and commit civil disobedience if necessary. It's a big ask. We hope you will read below and carefully consider what we are asking. We hope you will join us in signing the pledge to resist, and most of all we hope President Obama will reject Keystone XL, so that it will not be necessary to fulfill our pledge at all.
Thanks for your great passion and commitment in the face of this important fight. It is what has gotten us this far, and it is our greatest source of hope that we can win.
— Michael Kieschnick, Becky Bond, and the CREDO team
Coffee Party ON! Jeanene & Debilyn
P.S. Citizens United did NOT benefit Coffee Party USA. Our average contribution is $30-35. Please support this grassroots organization in our mission to Connect Communities to Reclaim our Government for the People by becoming a Member or making a donation. Thank you.
On the 10-year anniversary of our ill-fated invasion of Iraq, The Middle Ground opened with some technical difficulties, and then this eye-opening clip from my interview with Col. Larry Wilkerson, in which the former Chief of Staff under Secretary of State Colin Powell compares the Iraq War to the Vietnam War, having fought in one, and helped to bring about the other.
Our guest was author and peace activist David Swanson, whom Annabel and I filmed giving a speech last night, reflecting on the Iraq War and its place in history. I asked Swanson's take on "The Surge," which was and is clearly meant to make us feel like something of worth was salvaged in Iraq. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle for Iraq War apologists, and more important than I realized until I heard Swanson's admonition that lies about past wars make future wars more likely (Iran).
So you think you know how the government works, eh? How many times are you having a civil, fact-based, political discussion when someone says something that sets off the “I don’t think that’s right” buzzer in your head? Tonight we’ll give you the chance to prove it! Come test your knowledge of our system of government and the inner workings of Washington. Guest, Steve Bhaerman (a.k.a. Swami Beyondananda) is an internationally known author, humorist and workshop leader who was a social studies teacher a while back and will be helping out.
Whether calling in live or in the chat room, we’ll throw out questions covering everything from powers of each branch of government, how they are allowed to apply them, and what are their restrictions. Questions will range from simple to simply mind-bending.
Steve Bhaerman will also share his own journey into transpartisanship, his role as humorist and his political uncommentary, Notes From the Trail, where he offers a free e-book, Reuniting America.
Listen in here, or better yet, call in to challenge yourself at (646) 929-2495. And when you do, remember to Press  for Democracy.
We had a minor dustup on our Facebook page over comments by a South Carolina State Representative Kris Crawford (R), who complained earlier this year that, "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now," and, over the decision of Egberto Willies, who is African American and Latino, to share these comments on our Facebook page.
A lot of people jumped down Rep. Crawford's throat, assuming that he was gloating about something that he was actually criticizing. Others attacked Egberto for quoting Crawford's words and then pivoting to make his own argument. "Why do you have to bring up the issue of race?" is a common complaint from our more conservative Facebook commenters.
I understand the frustration of conservatives who often feel — and often are — attacked as "racists" when the issues of race and politics intersect, which is often. Our arguments against backward economic policies and institutionalized racism need to go much deeper than name-calling if we wish them to have merit, and, they need to resist name-calling if we wish them to be received with open minds.
However, I commented on the page that:
I think that we all have to acknowledge a truth that is painfully obvious to people of color in America, especially African Americans and Latinos. America has suffered from the tradition of exploiting racism for political purposes. The result has been bad policy, and, bad relationships between races. Heavily financed exploitation of racial anxiety by political parties and media outlets that support political parties has prolonged racial division in America much longer than it would otherwise have lasted.
How does it work? It simply takes advantage of a vulnerability all human beings have. We are afraid of people who are different, and, sadly, we are prone to believe stereotypes and lies about people who are different if those lies are told to us by people who are "the same."
That is why it may have been good politics, in the short term, to make so many false claims about President Obama, and about the majority of Americans who voted for him in the past two elections, and about Blacks and Latinos as a proxy target for simple anxiety over demographic shift.
It is not reprehensible to have such anxiety. It is reprehensible to exploit it.
Annabel Park and I have been filming in Alabama, where a county government is challenging the Voting Rights Act, and in North Carolina where hyper-partisans at the state level are attempting to legislate an electoral advantage for Republicans by limiting the number of people of color who vote. North Carolina legislators justify radical changes to election law by exploiting our tendency to believe lies about people who appear to be different if the lies are spoken by people who appear to be the same. "Voter ID" laws, they tell the public, are needed because the President, and African Americans and Latinos, have been cheating or want to cheat at the polls — one explanation for disappointing results in the last two presidential elections.
It doesn't matter that none of this is true. What matters most in politics is what people can be made to believe, and the sad truth is that political operatives are having a field day right now exploiting our blind spots when it comes to race. Rep. Krawford is absolutely right about that.
Advocates of a "voter fraud" crackdown have not presented any evidence that voter impersonation exists, but the possibility that it could exist, they say, justifies the passing laws that would abridge the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of people who do not have drivers licenses or were born before the era of state-issued birth certificates.
Conversations in the Coffee Party are often complicated by the need to address short-term issues and long-term systemic reforms. Today on LUNCH WITH LOUDEN, Jeanene and Debilyn are tackling this head-on, as it relates to our freedom.
Why does anyone think that the trendy movement to attack women’s freedoms might not be a Coffee Party concern?
The systematically executed strategy to use women’s issues as symbols for everything wrong with America is one borne of the vilification of “social justice”, and ridiculous amounts of cash that buy, in turn, the gratitude and loyalty of those that believe that freedom is for the “righteous” and the rest of us must be controlled.
We must rebrand any challenge to liberty, whether access to medical science or the right to work for a living wage, as not pro-anything, but rather as anti-American. We must fight the short term fights in the state legislatures and halls of Congress; and we must fight the bigger fight to end the domination of our political process by those who can buy the game.
It’s about power. Collateral damage is acceptable. As we wade farther into the sequester and compromises are made, what will the collateral damage be?
Our own fears and insecurities about the economy and individual futures are incited by our leaders and media as they are more than happy to assign blame to the usual suspects; immigrants, minorities and women.
It seems trendy at the moment to declare ANY spending for individuals in need a “wasted dollar” even when that dollar may yield savings far into the future. Investing now for family planning, education and immigration reform could save billions for future generations.
Today, these issues are used as CASH COWS for special interest groups of all stripes. As each issue is being attacked and defended, we the people are expected to take sides and fight.
This is the bigger game. How do we change the game so we don’t have to fight the same fight, over and over again?
Join the conversation today on LUNCH WITH LOUDEN or listen later.
If you’re like many in the Coffee Party, you know that there are “Republicans” and then there are Republicans. Some—many in fact, have internalized the hyperbole and the emotional triggers that constitute much of the right’s talking points, but there are others who consider themselves what tonight’s guest refers to as “Reluctant Republicans,” those who believe a solid conservative message is still very important and viable—but only if those delivering it embrace civility and facts, and are willing to engage in rational conversations.
Now imagine if there were more and more of these kind of Republicans, and if they weren’t quite so reluctant to speak out. We might have fresh ideas. We might have compromise.
Tonight on THE MIDDLE GROUND we explore what it means to be a Reluctant Republican through the eyes of our guest, Barbara Olschner. Barbara ran for the Congressional seat in Florida’s District 2 during the 2010 GOP primary, and writes about her experiences in her new book, The Reluctant Republican: My Fight for the Moderate Majority (read Michael Charney review here).
I recently quoted a Ross Douthat column praising Sen. Rand Paul's inventive approach to reforming the Republican party:
Beginning in 2003, a party that had long promised — and mostly delivered — peace through strength became identified with an intelligence fiasco, a botched occupation and the squandering of American resources, credibility and lives.
...[Sen. Rand Paul is seeking] a reorientation of conservative foreign policy thinking away from hair-trigger hawkishness and absolute deference to executive power.
Many of the initial comments posted to our Facebook page were very negative. Cherri from Eureka, CA wrote, "If the Coffee Party is endorsing Rand Paul they are going nowhere." Other comments got caught in our "civility filter" because they contained profanity or insulting language directed at Sen. Paul.
If the Republican party continues on its current track, Karl Rove and Sean Hannity are not the only two people who will suffer. Our country as a whole will suffer.
A party that has lost its credibility on national security, economic policy, and equal justice cannot win without warping the democratic process, and, cannot influence national policy without obstructionism and brinksmanship verging on sabotage.
Their defeat in the last two presidential elections was thoroughly earned, and some gloating may be warranted, but if we want America to succeed, we need at least two major parties vying for the trust of ALL the American people, and thus, working hard, and competing, to offer policies that serve the People. The first step is reform. For reform, the GOP will need some reformers. Rand Paul will be one of them. That's all this article is saying.
I'd like to expand on that by pointing out that Democrats, and America as a whole, will be better served by President Obama and the Democratic Party if they have to compete with a reformed Republican Party genuinely seeking to attract a diverse coalition that reflects the socio-economic realities of 21st century America. So often in recent decades, the GOP has taken a hardline position — i.e. preemptive war, anti-immigration, deficit hysteria — and the Democrats have said, wow, all we need to do is stand one notch to the left and we can stake our claim on moderates and independents. While this political strategy has worked out pretty well for the Democrats, it's a baby step toward the policy reforms this country needs to rebound from 30 years of economic mismanagement, and 8 years of costly foreign policy disasters.
Are you among the many who think that only the right wing groups seek to corrupt our government by flooding Washington with money? Tonight, Press  for Democracy takes a transpartisan view of corruption, seeking out and exposing all sources from all sides, specifically through the use of Dark Money Organizations.
Dark Money Organizations, including Organizing for Action, the Obama re-election campaign fund-turned grass roots action sponsor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce exist to allow the anonymous purchasing of government influence. Join host Dan Aronson tonight as we explore the extent of Dark Money in politics, it’s negative impact, and what we, The People, can do about it.
We've made very little progress on the issue of money in politics since the "Citizens United" wake-up call in early 2010. Although public awareness has increased, there has been no real call for reform coming from Congress or the White House. They are too busy fighting partisan battles, and, sadly, adjusting to the new game and the new rules decreed by the Supreme Court: unlimited, anonymous money to influence the outcome of our elections.
Meanwhile, there are oligarchs and political organizations, and even Supreme Court justices who challenge the very idea of democracy. The Voting Rights Act is under assault, in the hands of the very same five Justices who sided with the ruling elite in Citizens United. For most of us, if we have less democracy, we will get less representation, and have less power as a People exercising our right to self-governance.
We need a powerful movement to reform our democratic process. Let's focus on movement-building. Let's figure out how to make our fellow Americans understand how important it is to address the corrupting influence of money in politics. And let's brainstorm on how a new Coffee Party initative called "The 535 Campaign" can lead to changes we need.
Annabel Park and Eric Byler host another in a series of Virtual Townhalls on Coffee Party Radio, each designed to hear from you, and each to be supplemented by videos from their new documentary, Story of America.