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Voter Fraud and Alien Abduction

alien.jpgCHECK THIS OUT:

A recent study by John S. Ahlquist, Kenneth R. Mayery, and Simon Jackmanz found that experiences with "voter fraud" and "alien abduction" are reported at similar levels.

The study was conducted in a way that offered people a list of things that may or may not have happened in their lives, with "voter fraud" included for one group, and "alien abduction" included for the other. They were asked HOW MANY things on this list have happened to you.

This way, no one had to say specifically that they were involved in voter fraud, and no one had to say they were involved in alien abduction. 

The data shows that experiences with "alien abduction" and "voter fraud" appear in similar numbers, allowing for the fact that many respondents hit "all of the above" and may have been flippant or careless in doing so.

This study is just a fun way of underscoring the overwhelming evidence that "voter fraud" is not an actual problem, but rather a myth that was manufactured by conservative advertising agencies (aka "think tanks") and election lawyers in order to justify restrictions on voting, such as government issued ID requirements, that have cropped up over the past 10 years.

Both the voting restriction legislation, and the "voter fraud" myths were disseminated from organizations like ALEC, Fox News, and the Heritage Foundation, beginning not long after the release of the 2000 census. The purpose of the new restrictions on voting was to counterbalance the demographic shift that this census revealed. 

Before the 2000 census, there were no media products, and no "think tanks" marketing the notion of "voter fraud." Since then, it has become a popular myth among consumers of Republican media products, and laws restricting access to the polls have been implemented in 37 states.

 

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Your Money, My Vote

bought_congress.jpgI posted on Facebook Tuesday: “How many corporations are going to the polls today? None. Why? Because they are not citizens.” The comments were enlightening.

DS: Why cast a vote they can buy them in bulk.

HC: The supreme court thinks they’re people, that their money equals speech, and soon, they they have religious freedoms.

HB: When only about 55%or even less of Americans bother to vote, it is the corporations that control the outcome. Who's fault is that ?

And my favorite:

DF: What a great question that makes a very important point. Besides corporations not going to the polls today, they aren't registered to vote, nor do they have voter I.D.'s. Yet with their unreported campaign contributions and support of PACs, they buy more influence than all registered voters put together. Makes no sense, yet the Supreme Court majority knew what they were doing and got what they intended in their Citizens United vote. Are they, too, in the pockets of the corporations that they elevated to citizenship?

Somewhere along the way “their” money became more important than “my” vote. Corporate campaign contributions, indirect contributions through non profits, lobbying, and media are all high priced elements in a strategy for financial control. The payoff is huge: according to an NPR article, for every dollar spent on lobbying, the companies got $220 in tax benefits.

But more importantly, the ability of Americans to work through their differences is made impossible by the strategic use of the polarizing rhetoric designed to rationalize the self serving legislation that is the spawn of the unholy union of business and government. We need to talk about gun safety, religious freedoms, the broken economy, and so much more. But if we could talk, we would solve our problems, and the financial control being perpetuated by applying cash to our wounds would end.

Is there another explanation for our inability to have a civil conversation about gun safety? 80% of Americans, many of them NRA members, want some common sense gun safety measures put into place, and while we bicker like Hatfields and McCoys, hardly a week goes by without our having to endure another gun tragedy. Would closing the gun show loop-hole really be the beginning of the end for gun ownership? Really? Neither side of the aisle helps, because they both cash in on the issues remaining unresolved. The heroes in the seaweed, those who listen to the people and try to make something happen, become nothing more than martyrs on a pyre of campaign contributions.

But the real damage is to the American psyche. Our country does not walk, talk, or smell like a democracy any more, and what you can expect if you ask why is, “this is a republic”. I guess some think that a tyranny of the minority is acceptable in a republic. I guess business rights trump citizens rights in a republic. I guess religious rights are limited to the chosen few who can afford to impose their beliefs on others in a republic. I don’t think most people think this way.

But for the record, the United States is a “constitution-based federal republic [with a] strong democratic tradition” according to the CIA Factbook. The key word here is constitution-based. Even that precious document has become a polarizing tool for the spin doctors.


On our show today we would like to talk about some of the things that need talking about. Are you in?

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Virginia and New Jersey: Both Races Hold Lesson for Republicans

Chris-Christie-acceptance-speech-jpg.jpgSo much of the focus of the Coffee Party has been on the corrupting influence of money in politics. And, because more times than not, expensive media products such as campaign commercials (and campaign-commercials-disguised-as-news) still decide elections, it is right to point out that on Election Day 2013, the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia went to the candidate for whom more money was spent.

But, political advertisements would not have the impact they have on elections — and thus on policy — if our fellow citizens were not so easily manipulated by them. In 2009, the TEA Party was formed by consumers of cable television and right wing radio political advertising. During the 2012 primary, and even more alarmingly, since then, the TEA Party has seemed almost like a runaway train destined to destroy the Republican party. But the results in the two marquee governors races last night show signs of life for the mainstream wing of the Republican party, and lessons for conservatives who have recently been unsure how or whether to stand up to the party's fanatical base. 

Bottom Line New Jersey: America needs Chris Christie.  Gov. Chris Christie (R) is the man the Republican party needs to help them embrace, or at least acknowledge, 21st century America. Many Americans are disgusted with the hyper-partisan obstructionism of Republican media personalities and the TEA Party-dominated House of Representatives that has stalled America's economic recovery and made it impossible to meet important priorities such as job creation, immigration reform, and addressing climate change.

If the madness is to end, the Republican party needs a leader who is not going to back down "when extremists attack." On far too many issues, weak leaders like Mitt Romney and Speaker John Boehner have crumbled in the face of irrational anger and even more irrational policy coming from the far right. Until someone in the Republican party shows that it is possible to stand up to extremism, and not only survive but thrive, America will be plagued by a Republican party fueled by the darkest, most dangerous emotions this country and this planet have known.

The people of New Jersey, and the people of America appreciate Gov. Christie because he is a Republican who not only accepts and acknowledges that Barack Obama has the same right to be president as any of his predecessors, he physically embraced him and worked with him to help rebuild New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. What ever policy differences Democrats might have with Gov. Christie, this basic acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the first black president is progress enough to engender good will. Call it a case of national Stockholm Syndrome, but we can't deny that the emotion and the gratitude is there.

Bottom Line Virginia: The TEA Party blew it for Republicans (again). Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe (D) is not a good match for Virginia. He is a Washington insider and former DNC Chairman who has never held elected office, and only lives in Virginia because it borders Washington DC. I saw him speak in person four years ago on the same stage with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), where it was clear to me that McDonnell was a more engaging and more talented politician. In 2009, TEA Party media products were being produced at a rate of several hours per day, but McDonnell chose to present himself as a composed, dignified conservative whose focus was on creating jobs. McDonnell won.

Four years later, fanatics in the GOP used a nominating convention to circumvent primary voters. There, party activists chose as their nominee current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) who, not only embraced the TEA Party even during its disastrous government shutdown, he is best known for supporting legislation that bans birth control and even certain sexual positions (!?!).

If Republicans had held a primary and allowed the voters to decide, the GOP candidate would have been moderate Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. Bolling would have done better with women. And he would have had the financial support of wealthy Republican donors who care more about economic growth than what human beings do with their genitals. Bolling would have won handily. 

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The Debt Ceiling: Governance or Obstructionism?

REAL_TALK_image_debt_ceiling_copy.pngThere is one thing made clear in Act III of Political Fiscal Theatre: the debt ceiling is much ado about nothing that can cause a cascading financial failure, impacting the entire world economy.

The ideological nature of the debt ceiling gaming we have seen is fierce. Is it something our framers intended to protect or is it sedition in constitutional clothing?

How are we using the tools of governance?  And how are we using the tools of obstructing governance? Why would our founders set up a system where tools of obstructionism are needed?

The framers of our government were concerned about the tyranny of the majority.  Concerned enough about mob-rule, religious fanatics or any group of ideologues gaining too much power that they established a system of checks and balances with our three branches of government.  

Did they ever foresee the possibility of tyranny of the minority?  Where a group of ideologues would gain just enough power to obstruct governance including but not limited to the debt ceiling?

  • Only two countries in the world even use a debt ceiling...the U.S. and the Netherlands.  

  • It was never an issue in the U.S. until recently.  

  • Created in 1917, pundits now say that the debt ceiling was an attempt to curb runaway spending, while congressional historians report it was a way for spending to occur after Congressional decisions were made.

    • Jeanene - by reducing taxes on the majority of American income has created the need to borrow (instead of create revenue).

    • Debilyn - And given that our money is just printed pieces of paper, fiat money, based on our belief in it, what difference does it make?

Warren Buffett laid out the case why we should abolish the debt ceiling earlier this week. Strangely enough, he is almost the only public person making this noise. Why so few? The cry is clear in social media.

The debt ceiling is hardly the only area where mischief is afoot:

  • Late September 2013, the Rules Committee of the House decided that only the Majority Leader of the House (currently Eric Cantor) could bring a bill to the floor, when previously it was ANY member of the House.  This maneuver secretly gave more power to the Majority Leader than the Speaker of the House.

  • The power of the purse was used to deny funding to adequately set up the federal system of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, which needed expansion. And was expanded again due to 26 states opting out of Medicaid expansion which would have covered millions of their citizens.  These states are primarily controlled by those who are making an ideological statement. (reported on NPR and NYTimes)


Help us formulate the Coffee Party position on the debt ceiling, and brainstorm what action we should take. Can we eliminate mischief one step at a time?

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We Survived the Crusade.

green-tea-hp-Americans-had-enough-secular-government.jpg

We have survived. Now we must prevent the next “crusade” against our countrymen and women.

The facts in front of us are too clear to ignore. A few people in Congress are claiming their right to resist the tyranny of the many (by blocking floor votes) and willfully, if not happily, took our country to the brink of economic chaos. I have come to the conclusion that this is not an accident, it is a strategy.

The Capital Hill crusaders represent less than 20% of the American population (even less given that none of them received 100% of the vote). And yet they receive the support of a disproportionately large percentage of the 1% backing.

Plutocracy meets theocracy: the uber wealthy and the extreme right fringe of christianity have found each other to be good bed fellows. The radicalized right sees no price too large if it results in the creation of a christian based government - but not just christian, THEIR flavor of christian - unfairly branding many Americans not-christian-enough.

They are reinventing and reinterpreting our secular documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in their own image.

The non-christian nature of their efforts is seen in the “fruit of their labors”. We are all either suffering under their cavalier fiscal indifference to the people, or we have friends who have been thrown under the bus by the siege.

Today’s call in show asks two questions.

  1. How is this “christian” political strategy working in your world? Tell us your story. And,
  2. what shall we (yes, the people) DO between now and the next chance these narcissistic leaders get to launch the next fiscal hostage situation in the name of their faith?

Join us and guests for a BIG serving of civility and reason (emphasis on REASON) during today's show.

See related articles at the Lunch with Louden Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LunchWithLouden

Deb_Jeanene.JPGLUNCH with LOUDEN
Thursdays 12 noon Pacific
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How to Identify and Deal with Coffee Party Trolls

no_trolls.png

Every day, comments left on our various Facebook pages point out that many of our visitors, and perhaps even our members labor under a common misconception.  So, if you are among those who think that the Coffee Party exists to be the political opposite of the Tea Party, please know that you are sadly mistaken.  It also means that you are part of the problem 
and not the solution.

The Coffee Party is a transpartisan organization.  This means we encourage people from ALL political parties and differing viewpoints to participate in fact-based, civil discussions in search of common ground and workable solutions.  And no matter what any misguided soul might tell you, that includes members of the Tea Party.  When Annabel said, "We don't need a Tea Party; we need a Coffee Party", she was objecting to a type of behavior; namely fear-based obstruction vs. cooperation.  Click here to watch a short video she made explaining this concept further. You can click the "back" button on your browser to return here when you're done.

Now you should clearly understand that what Coffee Party does oppose is ANYONE – be they left, right, or center, who is so entrenched in their thinking that they have no interest in rational dialog. As a board, we fight daily against the trolls who come here to spread divisiveness and promote intellectually dishonest discourse. Here are two of the best ways to recognize these trolls.

First, they call their political opposites nasty names, such as Libtards, Repugnicans, or Tea Baggers.  We have installed filters in an attempt to automatically block these comments.  If they get through the filters, their comments are manually deleted by our admins when found.  And in extreme cases, people have been banned for repeated abuses.  Trolls also tend to stick, often religiously, to their side's talking points and refuse to engage in further conversation; that is, except to defend those talking points with even more talking points.  Engaging in a pseudo-conversation with a troll (let’s face it, they aren't really “conversing”) does additional harm to the process.  These entanglements are typically fraught with logically flawed arguments, opinions that are stated as facts, and referenced "facts" that are just plain incorrect.  If there is any good news on the troll front it’s that these are the very people that The Coffee Party is trying to reach in an attempt to change the conversation.   So as long as they keep coming back, there's at least a chance we can get them to see the light.  Regardless, failing in our mission will have grave consequences.

What we need people to understand is that a zealous progressive and an intractable Tea Partier have more in common than they care to admit.  But if each is so quagmired in their intense dislike for one another that they fail to see their common points of interest, progress cannot be made.  That is why, at least for the moment, left and right need to call a truce and bond against a common enemy.  The enemy that Coffee Party has called out is the undue influence of big business and the wealthy on our elected representatives in Washington.  Let’s take a quick look at how political opposites view the corporate takeover of our government.

The left hates it because corporations and the wealthy use their vast resources to choke off progressive efforts, such as raising the top tax rates, increasing Wall Street and environmental regulations, protecting American workers, and providing healthcare for all.  The right hates those same influences for coercing the subsidies given to already profitable companies, handing out lucrative no-bid contracts (see: Military-Industrial Complex), and for privatizing our prisons and then rewriting sentencing guidelines that send more people to jail and for longer periods of time.  And neither side cares for our prolonged military involvement in the Middle East.  Oh the things we could accomplish if these factions would only see the truth of it!

This is the mission of The Coffee Party.  To pierce the veil of ignorance, hatred, and intractability that is preventing us from reaching our common goals.  We must reject the notion of  “partisan-think” and instead work to eliminate divisive rhetoric, regardless of our political affiliation or that of others.  If we succeed, we can make government work on behalf of The People and establish a more harmonious citizenry.  If not? Well, I’d rather not ponder that outcome as it is simply too depressing.  Instead, I will close by asking you to help us complete this most essential mission by reaching out to your political opposites with compassion and an open mind.  The stakes are high; but together, we are Americans.  And when have you ever known Americans to back away from a tough challenge?

Thanks for lending me your ear.

Dan Aronson
Director, Channel Partners
Coffee Party Radio Host, Press [1] for Democracy
Coffee Party USA

 

To learn more about our mission and principles, please visit http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/mission_statement.  

 

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Can We Talk? Joan Blades and Living Room Conversations

Final_LRC_Logo_color.jpgIn Washington DC, it seems that most of the talking is done in sound bites to the cameras, for the sake of blaming someone else for the government shutdown...or whatever happens to be the crisis of the moment.

Last week on LUNCH W LOUDEN, we interviewed former Tea Party member, Shane Brooks and he revealed what caused him to start listening to people who had different beliefs than he did. (It was the relationships!!!)  

Joan-Blades_Formal.jpgThis week, we’ll interview MoveOn co-founder, Joan Blades about her current project, Living Room Conversations. In her work, Joan has become friends with Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Mark Meckler.  We’ll hear Joan’s story of how she came to know Mark, their unlikely conversation on crony capitalism and what else they discovered they have in common.  It's led to interesting conversations and working together...sometimes.  What conversation would you like to have with your friends and family?

It’s never a full conversation without YOU, please join us for this blue plate special of civility and seemingly uncommon good sense.  Debilyn guest hosts this week while Jeanene is away.

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*For the sake of transparency:  Debilyn co-created Living Room Conversations with Joan Blades as part of the Changing the Game team.  Changing the Game (and Debilyn) also worked with Coffee Party USA.

Coffee Party USA is 100% member supported.  You can sign the Civility Pledgejoin the movementbecome a member and make a donation today at our website.  Thank you for your support.

 

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What Do WE, The Grassroots, Want?

grassroots.jpgWho are the grassroots and what do they/we really want? Why does the answer vary with the network? Who are you and what do you want? Do you know what your congressional delegation thinks you want? Are you willing to tell them?

The social safety net and corporate welfare are both called entitlements. Do we, the people, really have much to say about which entitled are successful in perpetuating their budget foothold?

Think Obamacare. Sen. Cruz (R-TX) held an anti-Obamacare filibuster in the name of the grassroots. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) replied that the fact that the people re-elected Mr. Obama was because they wanted Obamacare. Then Cruz joined the rest of the Senate and voted to allow the budget process to continue.  Who is he representing today?  Is it us?

Think Farm Bill. The elimination of SNAP (food stamps) for unemployed/non-student adults (including their children) is a Rep. Southerland (R-FL) proposed cost savings. that supports myths about the unemployed more than it empowers citizens to be self-reliant. Meanwhile the pork to agribusiness seems like teflon. Do we, the grassroots, really want to undermine the social safety net during a time of recession? And to continue forking over tax dollars to highly profitable corporations? Recovery has been on Wall Street, not on my street.  

Think Big Oil.  $502 Billion in post-tax subsidies from the United States means approximately $4400 per U.S. family, on average.  What if we actually eliminated that subsidy? Would we pay more at the pump?  For heating our homes?  Or would the energy companies have a lower profit margin?  Move their headquarters to another country?  (if you follow the link to the IMF report, look at page 13, where the U.S. provides MORE post-tax subsidies than any other country)

Think Corporate Welfare. According to the CATO institute Policy Analysis, Corporate Welfare in the Federal Budget, “Policy makers claim that business subsidies are needed to fix alleged market failures or to help American companies better compete in the global economy.” Isn’t transitioning health care from a business expense to a social expense part of the formula for being able to compete globally?

And ultimately, can any grassroots expectation be realized if and when it runs counter to the interests of big campaign contributors? As long as our elected are beholden to funders rather than voters, does the will of the people have a chance?

Deb_Jeanene.JPGPlease join our conversation today for a Blue Plate Special of civility and respect.  

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Sustainable Lifestyles: Mine, Yours, Ours

Sustainable_Living_310x260_0.jpgThis year, we are experiencing a breakdown in our systems.  From the roads of Colorado disappearing to flood waters to our state and federal governments subverting the will of local people to ban genetically modified (GMO) crops from being grown in their county, the need for self-reliance is becoming more and more obvious.  

At the same time, a need for sustainability and mindfulness about our individual impact on the planet is critical.  Scientists agree that our lifestyle (meaning the U.S. lifestyle) is being adopted by more of the world, and leading to a rapidly unsustainable planet, at least for human life.  We are near the tipping point.

kate-wildrick.jpgToday, we welcome back to the show, social entrepreneur Kate Wildrick from Ingenuity Innovation Center.  Kate and her partner Aaron were on LUNCH with LOUDEN earlier this year, introducing their aquaponics farm and concept of how to grow your own GMO free food.  Today we’ll talk with Kate about her sustainable lifestyle choices and how she is working with others to introduce, demonstrate and coach them to living with passion, self-reliance and sustainability.

Deb_Jeanene.JPGIt’s never a complete conversation without YOU.  Please call in!  

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Debilyn is guest-hosting today while Jeanene is traveling.

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September to Remember

Budget deadline + debt ceiling limitation + Obamacare / Syria = A September to Remember
(Where is immigration in this equation?)

Health-Budget-Options.jpgWhile the debate over how to respond to the use of chemical weapons dominates the national conversation, other things need tending in our country. Our congress does not have a strong track record for doing well under pressure. What shall we do to help them?

The House is now scheduled to take another recess the week of Sept. 23. That gives it two weeks to decide how to keep funding the government on Oct. 1 and beyond. Many expect a stopgap “continuing resolution,” which would keep agencies running for some specified time at current budget levels.

From NPR:

"Conservatives who oppose the president's health care law, Tea Party groups and others have been trying all year to get Republicans in Congress to take a stand, and to use one of the various cliffs and budget deadlines as leverage to defund or otherwise destroy Obamacare.

They spent the August recess arguing that this month's budget deadline presents the last best chance to undo the law. But on Tuesday, House Republican leaders unveiled a plan to keep the government funded without any real likelihood of defunding the law.”  MORE from NPR

From NYTimes:

“With the government weeks away from a potentially disastrous default on its debt, John A. Boehner, the House speaker, met on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew in a previously undisclosed meeting to try to pull the Obama administration into negotiations to tie an increase in the government’s borrowing limit to significant budget cuts.

Mr. Boehner presented the Treasury secretary with a long list of debt-ceiling deals that he said showed the linkage of a hike in the debt limit to budget deals is routine, bipartisan and long established.

The White House has so far said that it will not enter into negotiations on the debt limit, while Mr. Boehner hopes to use the need to raise it to extract significant cuts in spending."  MORE from NYTimes

From Reuters:

“The administration faces daunting obstacles on all three fronts and a ticking clock on the budget in particular. Congressional Republicans have sought to eliminate funding for the health law, known as Obamacare, and want the president to agree to spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation's debt limit.

Lawmakers must pass legislation to continue funding for government operations by the end of the month or force a government shutdown. Failure to raise the nation's debt limit after a date expected in mid-October would trigger a debt default.

The administration is also scrambling to make sure Americans lacking health coverage sign up for insurance under the new law starting October 1.”  MORE from Reuters

And what about the promise of immigration reform?  MAYBE we’ll have some action by the end of the year. 

From Latin Post:

“Immigration reform activists are still holding protests and campaigning for change, but the U.S. government is so preoccupied with Syria that Congress is expected to postpone any legal reforms to the end of 2013.  Activists sent a petition complete with 600,000 signatures to Speaker John Boehner in hopes that it would push the government to take action sooner rather than later. This was not just a simple electronic petition but rather a petition with 600,000 physical signatures on actual paper. Protests will be heating up again in the first week of October as organizers have set up rallies in at least 40 cities. Immigration activists will also be marching in Washington on Oct. 8.”  MORE from Latin Post

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