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What does it mean to be a Coffee Party Feminist?

LOUDEN CLEAR with Jeanene Louden

Happy International Women's Day!  All this talk of restricting access to contraception and government mandated trans-vaginal probes has got me thinking: What does it mean to be a Coffee Party Feminist?  Please call in or listen to Coffee Party Radio today at 2:30 ET (11:30 am PT) so we can talk it over.

I believe in civility and reason: that given the chance to talk things through, most Americans can come to terms on most things. I also believe there is room for "fire in the belly" in this compassionate stand of ours, especially when our sisters are met at the steps of the state house by soldiers in riot gear, or forced to submit to medical rape because they believe they have the right to design their families. Fifty years of medical science and social reform are at stake because it is easier to threaten us than to address real issues like economic justice or the social safety net. Join me. We really need to talk this one through.  Also, please see my new on-line newsletter: Coffee Party Feminists.

Will Main Street or Wall Street Get Dealt the Upper Hand on STOCK Act?

by Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist for Public Citizen

In the weeks following an explosive 60 Minutes exposé on congressional insider trading, both chambers of Congress nearly unanimously passed the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge" (STOCK) Act. But there is still no law. What's the holdup?

The ball is in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) court. And everyone is waiting for him to decide how to proceed.

It's not like the problem hasn't been well-documented. In congressional hearings, Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission, acknowledged that the laws against insider trading have not been applied to Congress. "There does not appear to be any case law that addresses the duty of a member [of Congress] with respect to trading on the basis of information the member learns in an official capacity," Khuzami conceded. The same is true for congressional staff.

In addition, academic research showing that congressional lawmakers enjoy an extraordinarily high rate of return in the stock market has been well-publicized. That's why Congress fell over itself to pass a STOCK Act that would apply insider trading laws to itself. The problem is that the Senate and the House passed two different versions, leaving President Barack Obama's promise to sign the STOCK Act into law as soon as it reaches his desk unfulfilled.

We Need a 20 Million Citizen Movement

Cameron Michaels is a US Army veteran, an American manufacturing small business owner, and Chief Operations Officer at Hygenie Brand Products. He has been politically active and blogging since 2008.

by Cameron Michaels

We live in an amazing society where the colors of our nation are rich and vibrant. The diversity of differing cultures enriches our lives, and allows for the expansive marketplace of ideas. I, as many of you, must feel blessed to exist here and as a Veteran, the National Anthem still brings a tear to my eye as I know that what we stand for is true, and right as the rain is in Spring. Regardless of the discourse we have been witnessing as of late, I still believe that our country is moving forward and that we can all be a part of that movement. It is this open mindedness about our future that sets us apart from many other nations and is absolutely the cause for America's reputation as the bastion of ingenuity, the home of the IPhone, and the leader of the free world!

Alas these strengths, as beautiful, wonderful, and just as they are, have come into question. We are living in changing times, and part of that change has been due to the unexpected De-regulation of media through this medium we call the Internet. We have finally come to a tipping point of sorts where the power of this shareable tool has finally shown its real power. The Arab Spring and the Overthrow of Gaddafi, to name two, owe their thanks to this medium, and as such the existence of the Coffee Party as well.

I had the pleasure and honor of having a great discussion with the Big Apple Coffee Party with Annabel Park on Sunday. This was an extraordinary moment for me as I was definitely out of my element. It was honestly one of the most eye opening experience. I've ever had with 12 people together and that is saying a lot seeing as my whole life has been one real change after another, but it was the end of the night that really set me straight on this Blog post. I asked Annabel, who she sees leading the charge on fighting the powers that be. Her response to me was, "We do not need one leader. We need 20 Million Leaders!" This is a very profound statement since if you think about it, she’s right.

Help Pass Bipartisan "No Budget, No Pay" Legislation in Partnership with No Labels

by Jeanene Louden

Coffee Party USA is joining with No Labels in the push for new federal budget legislation that creates a pact between Members of Congress and the People they are meant to represent. "No Budget, No Pay" has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, and, it is a first in a 12 step program called Make Congress Work, a grassroots campaign for systemic reforms that will encourage bipartisan cooperation, civil dialogue, constructive legislation from our leaders. Please take a moment to write to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support the "No Budget, No Pay" legislation.

Jeanene Louden interviews Jonathan Miller, one of the co-founders of No Labels, a ground-breaking tran-spartisan organization and leading voice for independent voters in mainstream media.

CLICK HERE for more from Coffee Party Radio.

Jonathan Miller is a former Kentucky State Treasurer a former Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Energy. Today told us about No Labels' latest initiative No Budget, No Pay — the first step in No Labels' 12-point action plan to Make Congress Work. If you like what you hear, please join our friends at No Labels in writing to Congress in support of No Budget, No Pay, which has been introduced in the House (H.R. 3643) by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and in the Senate (S. 1981) by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Both bills already have numerous bipartisan co-sponsors. That's what I call momentum!

The No Labels Solution

If Congress can't make spending and budget decisions on time, they shouldn't get paid on time either. Every government fiscal year begins October 1. If the congressional appropriations (spending) process is not completed by that date, congressional pay ceases as of October 1, and isn't restored until appropriations are completed. This is the only No Labels solution that requires a new law, which could be passed in 2012, and would take effect when the new Congress is seated in 2013.

This proposal requires a new law to be passed by the House and Senate. [MORE info]

Rally at the Supreme Court: Hear us "Louden Clear!"

by Jeanene Louden

Wow!  Not bad for a "flash rally" announced with four day's notice!  As Eric Byler and Annabel Park reported to on my weekly radio show Louden Clear, the Thursday Feb. 23 rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building captured the spirit of a new kind of momentum in the fight against money in politics, and launched a cross-organizational, trans-partisan initiative to shift the national conversation to the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on whether to reconsider their "Citizens United" decree.

Dave Lefcourt of OpEdNews wrote: 

It wasn't a huge rally by any stretch of the imagination (less than 300 people), but there was considerable media taking video and recording the remarks of the organizers, Common Cause and the Coffee Party.

The protest was centered on the Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010 and the need for it to be overturned.

One of the protest signs was clearly aimed at Justice Anthony Kennedy which read, "Yes Justice Kennedy, we the people see the corruption." That was in direct reference to Kennedy's assertion, as the writer who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens, "the Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption"and the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy."

BOOK REVIEW: One Way Forward The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic by Lawrence Lessig

Coffee Party Book Club is now reading:
One Way Forward
The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic by Lawrence Lessig

by Linda Cook, Coffee Party Book Club

Larry Lessig, an esteemed professor of Harvard, is a great citizen activist, educator,  presenter, writer and truth teller of our time. He speaks to the root of our paralyzed government, to crony capitalism, and the fight to break its control  over our government.  In One Way Forward ($1.99, Byliner) he speaks of the new tools at our disposal, of the “read/write” ability we have regained with the Internet.

One Way Forward, is a continuation or update to our last featured selection, Republic: Lost.  This tiny book speaks to the political movement in which we, the Coffee Party USA, is working.  Professor Lessig asserts that we currently have the “insiders” or the funders and those inside the D.C. beltway. Then there are the “outsiders” or the rest of us.  The insiders (them) believe that the outsiders (us) are powerless and need not be consulted.  Professor Lessig asserts that the Internet is the tool that will change this perception. In fact, he says, it already is.  Recently we stopped  SOPA and the “legal” congressional insider-trading that had been going on for years.  We can use the new read/write technologies to correct the crony capitalism that we are today stuck with.

He starts his book with this statement: “Spring comes in waves. At first, unrecognizably. And then, unavoidably. And when it finally fully comes, we wake up. We, the People. The sovereign. We tumble out of the stupor that is our sleep and exercise a power that is ours exclusively.”  This is what is happening in America today.  People are waking up.  We are an example of that.  The volunteers of the Tea Party, the Coffee Party,  MoveOn,  Move to Amend,  Backbone Movement and the Occupy movement are proof of that.  We are all citizen activists. To quote the professor: “It is instead a story about all of us. While on the one hand we all aspire to the ideal of working as one, on the other hand we all thrive by rallying us against them.” This is the Croix of the problem. We can’t trust the other tribe.

Professor Lessig argues that it was not always so. “ But the difference then  . . . (was) there were also mediating institutions that could . . . do the work of the Republic. There was a Congress that wasn’t campaigning  full-time. There  were social organizations that asked . . . what could be done for the country.”  Instead we now have political organizations that only vie for power and funds.  They certainly are not working for the “general welfare” as charged in our Constitution. They are working for the welfare of the insiders.

Voting Rights Act of 2012

Christopher Lewis-Ewell, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, enlisted in US Air Force in 1977, and worked as a law enforcement specialist in the Philippians and in Charleston, SC. Since being honorably discharged, he has worked in a series of ″day″ jobs while working as a musician at night. Christopher is the father of a beautiful and intelligent daughter, who is also a musician and lives in Denver, CO. 

by Christopher Lewis-Ewell

It didn't hit me until afterward, but my recent exchange with Jeanene Louden on Coffee Party Radio was exactly fifty years after Dr. Martin King, Jr. was arrested in Selma, Alabama for registering Blacks to vote. I have a personal connection to Dr. King because he visited my mother in the hospital after I was born in order to see and hold her new born son. Why would such an important human rights visionary visit my mother? Because my grandmother was one of Dr. King's administrative assistants... and because my great-grand aunt was Harriett Tubman.

My family has been very active in the struggle for the rights of the poor and black people from the very beginning of this country. My life of activism started early, marching with Dr. King with my mother as a youngster, and watching her work with Operation Bread Basket after the riot in Watts. I was invited to speak at the opening of The Harriett Tubman School in NY at the age of eight (all I recall of the moment was my nerves and saying that I could only hope to follow in her footsteps).  As an adult, I helped out during the start of the Green Party in California, and I collected signatures to put the Medical Marijuana issue on the ballot in California and Nevada. I have been an active member of MoveOn.org since its beginning and I volunteered as a member of the Central Texas Steering committee to help elect Barack Obama in 2008.

As a Musician and Entertainer, I have donated my time and energy to supporting many causes to raise awareness and funds.

I served in The United States Air Force. I am a Disabled American. And with that I live, survive, on just enough money to pay my rent and utility bills... paper products and food for my service dog. I receive $72 each month in food stamp assistance. By the second week of each month I have less than $10 to my name. 

I called in to Jeanene's show to share the fact that I live in a state that has recently passed a “voter ID law” that requires us to present a State Authorized ID in order to vote. An ID that costs $14. This is wrong on many levels, but to sum it up, it is basically a “Poll Tax.”

[Editors Note: This law has been blocked by the U.S. Justice Department. The State of South Carolina is suing to defend it. Despite massive confusion among poll-workers and concern among the public, it is unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court will sanction this law.  If it does go into effect, the $14 fee for state issued IDs will be removed.  But it is true that today, with the law pending, the state issued ID does require a fee.  Learn more.]

I do have ID's. I have my Veterans Administration ID. I have my Social Security card, with a number that I have had since 1958. I have a Medicare card, and a Medicaid card... along with credit cards and bank cards. But according to this law, I may not be eligible to vote in South Carolina unless I acquire a State issued ID.

I have voted in every election since I was 18. That was in 1976. I have never been in a position where I was forbidden from casting a ballot in an election — something that I believe is one of the basic rights I have as a citizen of this country. Yet now that there is this strong push to limit the voter turn-out of poor, minority and student voters.  At the age of 53, I am looking at the very first election in my adult life in which I may not be able to participate.

Fresh Grounds: $98 Million for Negative Campaign Ads Could Be Better Spent

by Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party Executive Director

$98 Million.  That’s how much has been raised by Super PACs in this election cycle according to OpenSecrets.org as of February 5, 2012. $46 million of that has been spent, most of it on negative and misleading political advertisements that have ripped apart the Republican candidates and have or will soon focus on President Obama.  This is just "politics."  

I can't help but wonder, what if we stopped the war of political advertising and focused on solutions with that money?  Sure, we couldn't make the "other side" look so bad.  But maybe we could start solving our big issues like education, debt, immigration, public safety and environment.  

What would it take to stop the ad wars?  If the ads stopped working, the politicians and Super PACs would stop running them.  Personally, I don't watch TV ads, read mailers or listen to robo-calls.  And those email threads designed to inflame passion?  I do the research and usually send the truth back to the sender and their entire list.  I refuse to participate in a system that is a giant toilet of lies and deceit.  Yeah, I'm a sucker for the truth these days.  What about you?  How do you cope?  [READ MORE]

Fighting "Citizens United" — Report from West Sound Coffee Party in Washington State

by Don Manning

The last part of January was busy with scheduled activities. With a few days of freezing temperatures, ice & snow, sporadic power outages, and a few cancelled “Occupy the Courts” events, I was worried about our town hall styled forum, “Are Corporations People?” at the Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton, WA on Jan. 23.  With Eric Byler of the Coffee Party, Chris Henry of the Kitsap Council of MoveOn.org and Brian Gunn of Involved Democracy scheduled to speak, I wondered if the roads would be thawed out in time. Fortunately, rain and warmer weather on the last two days before “show time” melted all the ice and snow. 

We had a group of around 40 attend and it went flawlessly if I do say so myself.  A group of about 10 joined Eric and me at a local restaurant afterwards, where our discussion continued. Not only did one of the local papers, The Port Orchard Independent, do an article before the event (which in itself raised awareness about the issue of money in politics), one of its editors Tim Kelly attended the event and wrote an  opinion piece called "The Fate of Democracy and the Fate of the Internet are Linked," summarizing what it meant to him.  Kelly wrote:

In the outraged public reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling from two years ago that regards corporations as people and money as speech that can’t be restricted, Byler sees a parallel to one of the most glorified moments from the narrative of America’s revolutionary conception: the Boston Tea Party. That event “was a response to an abuse of power, and to collusion by government and a corporation,” Byler observed while speaking Monday night to about 40 people at a forum held to discuss the Citizens United ruling.

The corporate-government nexus that’s so powerful in post-recession America is a primary reason Byler co-founded the Coffee Party USA two years ago, with the aim of creating a diverse, transpartisan grass-roots movement. 

[READ MORE]

Oakland, Non-Violence and The Future of Occupy

Stephan Said is an organizer, musician and writer known for his role in the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, as well as the Seattle WTO and global antiwar movements before them. His song "Aheb Aisht Al Huriyah" (I love the life of freedom) helped build the nascent Egyptian revolution in January 2011, and he has written extensively on the need for a global movement for economic equality. His song "Take A Stand" and new album difrent were released with a declaration "A Song United for A Global Spring" calling for an international movement one week before Occupy Wall St began. Called "this generation's Woody Guthrie," by Billboard Magazine and 'the troubadour of the global justice movement,' his anti-war song "The Bell" pioneered the distribution of protest mp3's and videos online when it became the "first major song against the war in Iraq." (New York Times) Stephan is Iraqi American with family in Baghdad and Mosul. He lives in New York City. Follow him on twitter or www.stephansaid.com

A Global Movement for Economic and Social Equality

by Stephan Said

In the wake of Occupy Oakland’s violent confrontation with police, many people are writing about non-violence and Occupy but missing the point. Occupy has been very successful in awakening an invigorated debate across the country while remaining largely non-violent.

But, to this point, Occupy has primarily defined itself through the politics of opposition, as its name even implies. Against Wall St., against Citizens United, against money in politics, against income inequality, against the G8.

To be both effective and sustainable, great movements, like those for Women’s Suffrage and Indian Independence, have to transform themselves beyond a start-up oppositional phase, into one in which they are defined not by what they are against, but by what they are FOR.

Great movements lift a moral vision high above the political dialogue that reaches into peoples’ hearts. When a moral vision precedes a movement, the necessary actions against oppressive policies and the diversity of tactics protestors autonomously undertake are fortified and the PR battle is more easily won.

The Civil Rights Movement may have been catalyzed by the bus boycott, but it had to move beyond that and claim itself as a movement for equality to capture the imagination of the world. The boycotts didn’t stop. But the movement could more effectively take on everything from segregation to voting rights in the context of the claim to equality. [READ MORE]
 
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