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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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What's your priority?  Call in and share with us how you will encourage your Representative and Senators to take up what's important, work together and prioritize.  It's not a show without you.  Call today!
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Poverty in America

poverty.jpgWe the People won't fight for our rights if we accept the story that it is our own fault that that we are poor or an illness/accident away from being poor. No man, woman or (especially) child deserves to die or go hungry because we are poor.

We need to recognize that this story is false and designed to manipulate the people into being self-hating and obedient or divided and conquered. The narrative is delivered through mass media by those very invested in and profiting from the current corrupt, unjust financial-political system. 

We must not start believing this story and blaming and hating ourselves. We need to raise our voices to warn our friends and neighbors. 

And please remember that we all lose if we become divided from and hateful towards our neighbors who suffer from similar wants but have been persuaded to subscribe to this story. Your neighbors are not your enemies. The enemy is this system and the false story that justifies and defends it. The best way to reach our neighbors is through persistence and respect. 

Many defenders of the system (who are clearly not profiting from it) are like victims of abusive relationships. They live in fear of angering the abuser and making things worse. Their minds become conditioned to focus on avoiding punishment and abuse and there is little room for thinking that the abuse could end altogether. Their self-esteem is often so diminished that they start believing that they deserve the abuse or are incapable of stopping it. Worst of all, they can not even imagine freedom. 

The reality is that our current financial-political system is an abusive relationship and lies and fears are perpetuated to convince us to stay in it. 

The system cannot be sustained if we rise together with confidence in our inherent worth, knowledge of our power as We the People, and love for each other. Despite the rabid divide and conquer tactics of the last 30 years, I still have faith in We the People. I'm asking you to have that faith as well.

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August Recess is Not a Vacation

No-spin.gifAugust Recess, a yawn for the last couple of years, has taken on a whole new spin. It is going to be a hot month, and I’m not talking temperature.

The backstory. On Monday, one of our page followers shared a link to the House Republican Conference August 2013 Planning Kit. While applying my due diligence to check it out, I started to search for what else is planned by others. My search results are a call to action.

My conclusion. If there is a perspective you would like represented in August events, find your August Recess activities and attend. This does not sound like the summer to miss. What I found were broad brush party accusations, defenses, and calls to knock it off from the activist community. Our prime mover, Campaign Finance Reform (get-money-out-of-politics), was not even mentioned. If it is going to be on the table, we need to put it there.

Eric Byler posted the following helpful hints on JOIN THE COFFEE PARTY MOVEMENT a couple of days ago (in part due to reader reports of difficulty finding August Recess activities).

HOW TO FIND A CONGRESSIONAL TOWN HALL MEETING NEAR YOU

  • Town hall meetings are often not announced very far in advance and additional events are sometimes added to the schedule at the last minute.

  • Check your member of Congress’ website, Facebook page or Twitter feed to find out the date and location of future meetings. Go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter your zip code to be directed to the appropriate website.

  • If no information is listed on the website, call the member of Congress’ local office in your town/state. The phone number should be listed on his/her website.

  • You can also check your local newspaper for announcements about upcoming town hall meetings, “office hours” or special events for constituents.

  • Note any instructions about registering for the meeting or sending an RSVP and follow them carefully.

  • If you like, take Coffee Party along. Our downloadable sign can be found at http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/take_coffee_party_along

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Here are the specifics that motivated me to action.

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What Do We Want Our Party To Be? | The Middle Ground, Tonight at 8 PM ET

brain_and_curiosity_image.jpgLast week on the show we talked about what we think about when we think about political parties. Tonight, we take it a step further: Let's talk about how we would WANT the parties to be.

If we think ahead to, say 2020, what would things look like? What would we want them to look like? And what are the qualities of a political party that can really represent us rather than corporations and special interests?

Presented by Coffee Party USA, "The Middle Ground" covers a variety of topics with a transpartisan approach with an eye to finding the place where the two major political parties share that 'middle ground.' Co-hosted by award-winning filmmaker Eric Byler (center-left perspective) and political author Michael Charney (center-right perspective), the show airs every Tuesday 8 to 9:30 pm ET.

We love our callers: 646-929-2495.

Michael_Charney.jpgByler-blue_2.jpgThe Middle Ground
Tuesdays 8 PM Eastern
Listen LIVE or LATER

CALL IN!  646-929-2495

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The Results Are In for Opinion, Please

anti_monopoly2.sized.jpgIn our survey, we recently asked the question, “Should Coffee Party focus on Money-in-Politics?” For us, the askers, Money-in-Politics seems to be the root cause of most dysfunction in our system.  Yes or No...and if no, what is the most important issue to you?

Well over 1200 people responded to our survey, and of those, almost 300 left thoughtful and insightful statements.

  • 86% responded YES -  Focus on Money-in-Politics.  

  • 14% responded NO.

  • 23% left comments, many having responded YES.

“YES” comments:

While I want to say that issues like stagnant wages, the environment, education, privacy etc. are most important to me I grow increasingly worried that a handful of monied idealogues and the lobbyists for major corporations are gaining such control that our government can't do anything to make things better.  ~ A.L.

Yes there are many worthy issues, but sometimes a 'single issue' group is most able to make change. In our current situation money = corruption and it is at every level and in every branch of our government. Until we solve that we won't be able to move forward on much else.  ~ M.G.

A regular citizen can't possibly compete with financial power of a corporation and therefore shouldn't have to in order to make his or her voice heard. The interests of corporations and citizens are not the same and are often conflicting, unless money gets taken out of politics, the whole country is going to belong to corporations instead of to people. ~ A.S.

“NO” comments:

When I joined Coffee Party, it was not an issues based group.  It existed to promote civil conversation in a nation where hostile speech was preventing functional political conversation at all levels of government and within communities.  This should remain Coffee Party's focus.  However, it is clear that money is compromising democratic government and is canceling the influence of civil, political speech.  Efforts to reign in the influence of money should be a focus of Coffee Party's agenda, but in the context of preserving the speech of citizens.  ~ D.M.

To me, the Coffee Party has a broader mandate than the issue of money in politics. The Coffee Party was formed as a rational alternative to [another group], and I have thought of it as primarily an advocate of sensible public policy that promotes the general welfare, in contradistinction  to the hysteria, racism, sexism and homophobia that characterize the knee-jerk motivation of right-wing politics. It is true that the hysteria is whipped up by politicians in thrall to moneyed interests, and is used to further those interests, which may have nothing to do with racism, sexism and homophobia, and therefore limiting the sway of money in politics is a legitimate interest of the Coffee Party; but I would prefer to see the Coffee Party inject rationality into political discourse on a broad spectrum of issues, and particularly in small communities nationwide, rather than pursue the white whale of moneyed interests.  ~ D.A.

Another source of data was comments on the JOIN THE COFFEE PARTY MOVEMENT Facebook page, and a few other pages that had the survey shared to page followers. Hundreds of comments were included in our review.

  • One insightful comment from the page: DC - I think this is one of the most critical threats to our system of democracy. We have allowed a few wealthy people to buy control of our government, and our freedoms, culture, and economy are in serious danger of being lost for good. Push this issue, and push it hard. Please.

We noticed a trend to see MONEY-IN-POLITICS (MIP) as something that would replace CIVILITY. To our thinking, MIP is a focus for action, while Civility defines how we do everything we do. The Board of Directors had a long discussion about this at last night’s meeting. I’ll share our thoughts during the show.

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Overcoming Stereotypes | The Middle Ground Surveys YOU

RDdice.jpgStereotypes are tough to overcome, partly because they have a certain value. If we asked our poor brains to assess every detail of every situation before we ever came to a conclusion, the result would probably paralyze us—that is, if we’d even exist. You see, back in the early days we learned to stereotype, for example, predators vs. prey, and poisonous plants vs. luscious berries.  This ability to form a conclusion based on limited data is, it turns out, is both hard-wired and quite useful. 

Only not so much in politics. The stereotypes that we carry around with us about the “other” side can be strong, mean, and uncivil.  In a recent survey we ran (unscientific, we admit), of 277 self-named Democrats, 47% used amazingly nasty language when describing Republicans, words like: bigot, racist, stupid, brain-dead, vile, selfish, mean, uneducated, and arrogant—to name just a few.

Tonight, on THE MIDDLE GROUND we’re going to talk about these stereotypes. Co-host Michael Charney thinks there are unwritten manifestos for both parties, and we’ll want to talk about that, too.

And, by the way… if you want to know what the Republicans said about the Democrats in this survey, you’ll have to tune in!
Tuesdays 8 P.M. Eastern LIVE
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I won’t go back! “They” can’t make me. Or, can they?”

shocked-old-lady1.pngI don’t use the term “take my country back” anymore. When I said it, I meant “take back control for the people”, but current events shows me that it means “take the country back to the bad old days”. I do not agree!

In North Carolina, a group that claims to represent  the moral majority has been fighting legislation aimed at creating barriers to voter participation, even though the data on voter fraud seems anecdotal and not based on official numbers.

Texas is the most recent case study in backwards movement in women’s health. The most outrageous example is the law that makes all facilities that provide abortion services have to meet the standards of an Ambulatory Surgical Center, so they are thrilled. This is not medically necessary. This is an expensive ploy. So, the Mexican abortion services providers are also thrilled. The law hangs a Scarlet A around the neck of all women.

NSA Surveillance is another area where we the people have lost control.  Yesterday, the House voted 217 - 205 to continue bulk surveillance of all phone records, regardless.  "The public was not just kept in the dark about the Patriot Act and other secret authorities," Senator Wyden of Oregon said. "The public was actively misled.

Are you ready to go back? Is there something you would LIKE to go back to? Are there other things that look like a giant step backwards, and not for the better? Share your thoughts with me and Debilyn Molineaux today:

Thursdays 12 Noon Pacific
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Help! We're Underwater on The Middle Ground

head_above_water.jpgGIVE US A CALL! IT’S YOUR SHOW!
646-929-2495
TUES 8PM EST/5PM CST

Eric Byler remains in North Carolina and is trying to avoid arrest. Michael Charney raises pen to paper to try to understand why people try so hard not to understand. In the meantime the world spins and it seems that every story (with the possible exception of Kate’s blue-blooded baby) has real ramifications for real people. 

There are so many stories that we’ve barely had a chance to think about (let alone talk about) that it feels like we need to just get our heads above water.

So tonight, on THE MIDDLE GROUND, that’s exactly what we plan to do: it’s the ANYTHING GOES THIS TUESDAY edition of the show, where we will talk about whatever you want to talk about. Texas politics got your goat? Let us know why. Wondering why John McCain suddenly seems rational? Ask the question. Curious as to how the Liz Cheney story has become so rabid so fast? Let’s chat.

GIVE US A CALL! IT’S YOUR SHOW!
646-929-2495
TUES 8PM EST/5PM CST

Some might call it a free-for-all, but that’s okay (because it really is). So just call. For an hour we’ll talk about whatever you want. Hopefully we’ll catch up on a bunch of topics so that we can take a deep breath and start planning for next week!

Byler-blue_2.jpgMichael_Charney.jpgSincerely,
Michael and Eric

Currently under water co-hosts of THE MIDDLE GROUND

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Elizabeth Warren might just save this country

Adam Mordecai of UpWorthy writes: 

Elizabeth Warren went on CNBC and was so knowledgeable that her interview went viral. She has one of the most impressive resumes in financial politics. She's a wonk. She knows her facts. And her hosts aren't used to having people like her challenging them.

After [UpWorthy] helped make [this video] go viral, CNBC filed a copyright complaint against her.

Now the video will be seen by even more people.  

Annabel Park and the Coffee Party first became a fans of Elizabeth Warren in 2011, when we created this Facebook page to demand her confirmation by the US Senate as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of which she was the principle architect. When the banking industry and their vast campaign donation/bribes blocked her path, she found a way to have an even greater influence on the ability of the American people to achieve self-governance, even when it comes to our relationship to the banking sector.

Soon after we created the page, Blake Mitchell, a young, African American graphic artist from New Jersey, created the image below, depicting Warren as a Jedi Knight.  When I watched the Senator completely dismantle the arguments of CNBC's banking lobbyists/television hosts, I was reminded of Obi-Wan Kenobi's admonition to Darth Vader: "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

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The CNBC video embedded at the top of this blog is set to begin about half way in.  See the whole video here.

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How do we explain Trayvon to our children?

A jury has spoken, yes. But when it comes to the socio-historical impact of this case, it is insufficient to limit one's mental scope to this alone.

When a person with a firearm decides to detain you, it's more than an inconvenience — it takes up your time, it abuses your civil rights, AND, it puts you in jeopardy of something going terribly, terribly wrong. Those who delight in the fact that this happens frequently to people of color are clinging to a false sense of superiority that belongs to another century. If you love America, love its people, all of them. If you love America, love its ideals, including equal justice under law. Racial profiling denies our fellow Americans of equal justice under law.

However well the lawyers argued the case, however fairly the media dramatized and advertised it, we must come to terms with the simple fact that a child is dead because of how he was misperceived. Can the trial, and its verdict, help America learn to change our perceptions of African American men? Can it change what we see? For how many generations will African American families need to explain to their children what this man contemplates explaining to his nephew?

Comments above were in response to comments on the Coffee Party Facebook page, and remarks this morning by President Obama. 

The Middle Ground takes on the George Zimmerman verdict on Coffee Party Radio:

THE MIDDLE GROUND with Eric Byler & Michael Charney
Tuesdays at 8 pm ET
CLICK HERE to listen to archived recording

Read Michael Charney's blog about the verdict then listen to us discuss the case for the first time LIVE on Coffee Party Radio.

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