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Coffee Party Nation's blog

Eric Byler in Vancouver, Seattle, Bremerton, WA for Monday, Tues, & Wednesday events

WEDNESDAY Jan. 25 at 3:00 PM

Community Forum on Citizens United v. FEC
Washington State University, Vancouver
14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Road
Vancouver, WA 98306

Speakers:

ERIC BYLER — President, Coffee Party USA
DR. CAROLYN LONG — Professor of American Institutions and Politics
 
**Eric Byler, Coffee Party Executive Director Debilyn Molineaux, and Coffee Party Secretary Jeanene Louden will attend a small get together at The Grant House (1101 Officers Row, Vancouver, WA 98661)  at 7 PM. 
 
 
More information in student press release below:
 
WSU VANCOUVER STUDENTS HOST COMMUNITY FORUM ON  CITIZENS UNITED V. FEC RULING
 
The WSU Vancouver political action club, Activists Coming Together, and the Associated Students of Washington State University are hosting a community forum on the Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United v.FEC, corporate personhood, and contemporary domestic campaign finance reform-and are seeking media coverage to compliment the event; publicize the nature of current campaign reform in the United States, the ramifications of the Supreme Court case on U.S. politics, voters, the U.S. Constitution, our First Amendment Rights, and the pervasive influence of money on U.S. politics. 
 
Vancouver campus in the Administration Building, room 129-we expect to overflow the space.   Eric Byler, co-founder of the Coffee Party USA movement will be the keynote speaker, complimented by Dr. Carolyn Long, professor of American institutions and politics.  The event has not only targeted university students, faculty, and staff, but local area high schools, government officials, and community leaders.  Invitations have reached over 800 individuals in the Portland Metropolitan area.  In addition to the speakers, attendees will be able to interact openly with the speakers and provide testimony on the American corporate rights movement.
 
Corporate personhood extends the rights and privileges afforded under law and the U.S. Constitution to U.S. citizens (natural persons) to corporations and their respective entities as legal persons.  The Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted the word “person” in the 14th Amendment to allow the court to prescribe constitutional protection to corporations.  The landmark ruling of case 588 U.S. 08-205, Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, held that the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits government from censoring political broadcasts in candidate elections when those broadcasts are funded by corporations. 
 

 

[READ MORE]

Unions vs. Corporations: Rules Concerning the Expenditure of Treasury Money on Political Spending

by Roseana Weaver

When shareholders ask corporations to disclose their political expenditures, corporations answer that they already disclose at least as much as unions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Expenditures made by both unions and corporations through Political Action Committees (PACs) are subject to the detailed reporting requirements applicable to these funds, but there the similarity ends. If a union wants to dip into its treasury to be politically active, there are detailed reporting requirements and protections for union members that simply do not exist if a company decides to spend shareholder money from the corporate treasury in the political arena. The rules requiring reporting of other direct or indirect political expenditures differ significantly between unions and corporations.

Unions are subject to strict federal reporting requirements and must file annual reports disclosing their political expenditures to both the public and to their members. These reports are available to anyone on the Internet. In particular, federal regulations require unions to disclose publicly every political or legislative expenditure of $5,000 or more along with the date and purpose of the payment (for example, “registration drive, get-out-the-vote campaign, voter education campaign, fund raising, advocating or opposing legislation (including litigation challenging such legislation) advocating or opposing regulations (including litigation challenging such regulations), a functional description of the recipient (“such as campaign advisor, lobbyist, marketing firm, fund raiser, think tank, issue advocacy group, printing company, office supplies vendor, legal counsel, etc.”) and the name and address of the recipient.

Corporations have no obligation to report even the gross amount spent for political purposes. And even corporations that voluntarily report political expenditures avoid reporting the bulk of these expenditures by making them indirectly— through payments to organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce which, subject to no reporting requirements, then use the contributions to support or oppose various candidates and lobbying efforts.

A detailed comparison is below.

Will 2012 Belong to We the People, or Is This the Year of ALEC?

Dillon ​Culbreth is a North Carolina Professional Land Surveyor and has been a small business owner since 1983.  He is following 6 previous generations in training for United Methodist Ministry. Dillon has been organizing with the Coffee Party since 2010 and is also active in numerous anti-ALEC groups, as well as "Get the Money Out" with United Republic. Dillon traveled to Washington, D.C. from Creston, NC to speak at the Citizens Intervention rally on Oct. 29, 2011. Regarding the rural nature of his home town, Dillon suggests you look in the northwest corner of North Carolina “where there aren’t any roads” and you might see the dot for Creston.

by Dillon Culbreth

As we emerge from the season of giving, the American people are faced with a system of taking, thanks in no small part to the hidden hands of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).  In 2011, we saw information begin to surface about this elite and shadowy lobbying & lawmaking syndicate.  It caught my interest.  Maybe I can interest you.

ALEC has been around since 1973 and their influence on the People’s business has been growing ever since. Their tactic is simple: throw a bunch of big, swanky resort vacations for elected officials and call it a “legislative exchange.”   Regular folk aren’t invited, of course; all the exchanging is done between our elected representatives and corporate profiteers who pay a pretty price to keep this racket going.  Lobbyists and special interests tell our elected officials what sort of legislation they’d like to see in return for campaign donations and presto — we have a new kind of government.  Take that, Founding Fathers!

ALEC has done a good job keeping its influence peddling machine out of the limelight over the decades.  But during the past year, as ALEC-style government began to clamp down, famously, on the people of Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, investigative journalists and democracy advocates began to take a closer look.  One informative resource to emerge is ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). It is set up in a wiki format, so you can search and dig to your heart’s content, and believe me, what you find will literally turn your stomach.

[READ MORE]

Hello from Jeanene Louden, Secretary for the newly elected Coffee Party Board of Directors

Above: Check me out in this video shot on the front lawn of the US Capitol.  It was shot after the
Oct. 29, 2011 Citizens Intervention rally had to be moved indoors due to snow and freezing rain. 
A few of us were crazy enough to go back out into the cold and this video was one of the results.

by Jeanene Louden

Hi. My name is Jeanene Louden. I'm a retired business owner, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, AND I'm a thoughtful American who believes democracy is in trouble and it is my job as a citizen to intervene!

I joined Coffee Party USA because the message rang true: money has replaced votes in our government and the resulting mischief is killing the country I know and love. Now, on January 1st, 2012, I will be seated as a member of the Coffee Party's first elected Board of Directors.  I am enthusiastic about volunteering for Coffee Party at the highest possible level of involvement and responsibility.  I believe in my heart that the Coffee Party can, in solidarity with like-minded organizations, face the challenges of the coming years and help our America come out on top.

Our Board of Directors is made up entirely of everyday Americans like you.  None of us are political professionals.  None of us are experts.  So, we're going to need you to contribute to the collective wisdom of our membership.  This is the only way we can live up to the promise of this one-of-a-kind grassroots organization, and, more importantly, the promise of America.

In the first few weeks of 2012, the new Board of Directors will need to answer some pretty tough questions.  At the center of it all: how can the Coffee Party effectively perform its role as a doorway for civil, fact-based, and trans-partisan civic participation in the middle of one of the most bitterly contentious and momentously important election years in our history?  What sort of initiatives, what sort of messaging, and what sort of insights can we chart out that will allow us to fulfill our mission to inform and engage fellow Americans in our democratic process without leaning on the usual tropes of partisanship, negativism, and demonizing the "other?"

Elizabeth Warren mocks Karl Rove's Wall Street-funded political ad accusing her of being too close to Wall Street

1% crusader Karl Rove has taken millions in Wall Street money to create and propagate a political advertisement connecting Massachusetts Senate challenger Elizabeth Warren to the least popular villain in America today.  And the villain they choose to connect her to is ... drum roll please ... Wall Street. 

What is the Robin Hood Tax? Listen to COFFEE PARTY RADIO today at 2pm ET with guest economist Dean Baker

Click HERE to download

What is the Robin Hood Tax?  And why are more and more economists stepping up to say this is what America and the world needs for economic security? Tune in live to Coffee Party Radio as Will Rice, coordinator of the Coffee Party Commonwealth Project, and Annabel Park, founder of the Coffee Party, interview economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research.  Baker has been advocating for the Financial Speculation Tax — a tiny tax on Wall Street transactions popularly referred to as the Robin Hood tax — for years now and it is now finally gaining support and momentum around the world.

Back in 2009, Baker wrote in his column for The Guardian, "Just like that perfect sweater, a financial transactions tax (FTT) would look just great on those Wall Street bankers and financiers. A modest tax, which would be too small for normal investors to even notice, could easily raise more than $100 billion a year. That's real money even in the land of AIG and Citigroup bailouts."

The Financial Speculation Tax could also help to reduce speculation in financial markets and thus bring about more market stability.  It could be an insurance policy against the next financial market collapse.  Check out the Robin Hood tax campaign in Britain.  This idea is catching on around the globe.

The Coffee Party supports the financial transaction tax and has featured it in its position paper. In this hour, as part of the Citizens Intervention Series, we hope to not only learn more about it, but discuss what we can do to win.

Petition to Support Fair Elections Now!

Please sign our petition in support of the Fair Elections Now Act

by Eric Whinery, Treasurer, Coffee Party USA Board of Directors

Money is not a problem for ALEC

Ron RabatskyRon Rabatsky is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Business.  He spent many years developing new products for a number of different clients at factories throughout Asia.  He resides in Waxhaw, NC with his wife Barbara and his dog, Mason. This is the second in a series of articles Ron will be writing about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

 

by Ron Rabatsky

The Occupy Movement, as exemplified by Occupy Wall Street and emulated in so many cities worldwide, shows me one thing — people are no longer satisfied to live a no-longer-livable life.  Expressing the entire 99% concept and the way it frames the lives of so many was a major accomplishment.  Perhaps you remember George Carlin ranting about why “Nobody Cares About You.”  If not, please go to the footnote (1) and watch it on YouTube.  You’ll swear it was written last night.

Or perhaps you are old enough to remember William Holden in Network(1A):  “I’m a human being, god damn it, my life has value.  So get up out of your chairs and go to the window, open it, then stick your head out and yellI’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’” (2)

ALEC

Okay, what exactly is ALEC?  On their web site ALEC defines its mission.  It is:

  • to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.
  • to promote these principles by developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government.
  • to enlist state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC's mission.
  • to conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities.
  • to prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society. (3)   

ALEC in the spotlightWhew!  That’s a fancy way to saying that ALEC is a lobbying group.  After all, what do they do?  They enable the salesman – the corporations – to get together with the buyers – the legislators – so that the corporations can try to sell the legislators on enacting special legislation to enrich their own coffers at the expense of the public.  It encourages legislators to vote a certain way on legislation in the chambers before them.  How else would you define what a lobbyist does?  How many honest lobbyists does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Nobody knows — they can’t find the honest lobbyist.  And by the way, if your children are reading Texas’ new history books, they might have to ask, “Gee Dad, who is that up there on that mountain next to George Washington?”  Or say to their teacher after reading this article, “What kind of principles of free markets?  Jeffersonian?" (4)

Despite activities that most people would define as classic lobbying, ALEC officials insist the organization is not a lobbying group, since it doesn't directly hand legislation to a lawmaker.  Instead, ALEC defines itself as a charity, a status it justifies because its purpose is to educate lawmakers.  This tax-exempt status, among other things, allows their members to deduct all their assorted payments to ALEC.  That includes “donations to scholarship funds”, which can be used to pay for transportation, hotel and meals for lawmakers attending ALEC meetings.

This is certainly not what I would think of as charity.  Isn’t being somehow needy a criterion for charity?  It certainly appears like an end-run around the disclosure and transparency expected of a charity.  Common Cause is trying to pursue this via an IRS complaint, which was filed on July 14, 2011.  But while there is a lot of noise made of this issue, nobody goes to court to challenge ALEC's 501c(3) status

What does Occupy Wall Street look like? This is what Occupy Wall Street looks like!

by John Park

On October 5th, when the Steering Committee of Korean Americans for Political Advancement (KAPA), which includes two Coffee Party members, joined the 20,000+ people supporting the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) march, a KAPA member was interviewed by a New York Times reporter and later had her photograph uploaded online under the title: “What to Wear to a Protest?” This does not reflect what Occupy Wall Street looks like, but it does reflect the problem of why people don’t know.

Beholden to revenue-generating forces, even well-respected news establishments aren’t above commercializing resistance or viewing current events through green-tinted lenses. With banks annoying people into becoming their customers with a deluge of well-funded advertisements about what is “priceless” or “what’s in your wallet,” and media outlets unafraid of losing their financial support from OWS because, frankly, there isn’t any, it’s easy to see why most people aren’t getting a fair portrayal of who the Occupiers and supporters really are.

And the banks aren’t just purchasing the influence of politicians—they are purchasing influence among law enforcement. Large donations were made to NYPD, including the recent donation from J.P. Morgan of $4.6 million, have no doubt exacerbated the already aggressive posture of NYPD towards the protesters. During an interview with Keith Olbermann on October 18th, Sgt. Shamar Thomas mentioned being in a riot where Iraqis were throwing stones at them: “Afterwards we didn’t go beating up people and arresting people.... I saw a cop [in New York City] punch a woman in the face…to see that in my own country, my family fought for this country.” He added that the protesters are peaceful and he has “yet to see any protesters try to hurt a cop.” Protesters are getting beaten for nothing more than walking down a street, standing on a sidewalk, or staying in a park after midnight. In essence, American protesters are being treated worse than many Iraqi protesters.

Birth of the Enough is Enough Rally

By Debilyn Molineaux, Executive Director
 

“Congress isn’t getting it.” Annabel said when I picked up my phone in early August. The media was running a circus on the potential US debt default. Emotions were high, as the country seemed headed towards the financial cliff. “We need to give people a place to speak, to be heard. We need to be activists, to hold a march. We need something that will get Congress attention. I want us to host a Speak Out!”

As we approach the Enough is Enough! Citizens Intervention Rally on October 29th, 2011, I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished since the inception of the idea just over two months ago.

Initially, I was skeptical. I was not in favor of a protest march and rally. Been there, done that. I’ve seen polarization up close and personal. Nothing in any previous protest changed policy or convinced anyone of the “rightness” of my opinion. But Annabel was right that Congress seemed out of touch with constituents. A CNN poll from June 2011 indicates that most Americans believe our elected officials are influenced by pressure from campaign contributors. The same poll shows most Americans also believe elections are generally for sale to the candidate who raises the most money. We need a meaningful and interesting conversation on a national level. Whatever we came up to facilitate the conversation and the shift HAD TO BE DIFFERENT. It was time to bring this conversation to the Transition Team.
 

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