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Coffee Connect: The Coffee Party Newsletter • Feb. 24, 2012

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 during 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.  

As Dave Lefcourt of OpEdNews.com reported:

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."

[MORE about the rally including video]

Write to us at local@coffeepartyusa.com if are as inspired as I am about this opportunity, and ready to organize a flash rally in your town or city.  We are joining forces with Common Cause and Free Speech For People just as we did for the kick-off rally at the US Supreme Court.  You can also sign up here and wait for further instruction. More on this later. 

Does the Supreme Court Know Citizens United Was a Mistake? 

by Eric Byler

On the night before the first "Flip Citizens United" Rally, I was on the The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann. On Coffee Party News, I had shared the notes I prepared an hour before the show. While waiting in the green room, and, based on the incredible segment about Super-PACS that opened the show, I narrowed my focus down to the 5 points below.  Video is now available.  Watch and see how many of them I covered. (Hint: it's hard to make 5 points in 4 minutes...) 


1. Tomorrow at 12 noon, we are trying an experiment – a flash rally in front of the US Supreme Court to kick off a new coalition campaign raise public awareness to the fact that Citizens United is back in front of the Supreme Court for reconsideration, now that we have had the kind of experience with which you opened the show.

2. A tiny fraction of our society, a few hundred families, are in the process of purchasing our democracy, and they don’t plan to give it up once they own it. We are in a power struggle right now.  People or donors?  Who controls political outcome and thus the policies that impact our lives?

3. Our disgust — the conversation we’re already having about the deeply compromised GOP primary — is proof of the perception of corruption that Justice Kennedy implicitly said he feared in his majority opinion when "Citizens United" was decreed. Our job is to make the connection between this and "Citizens United."

4. We are currently at the crossroads between the 20th century, top-down information model, and the emerging 21st century social media model.  We the People are at a disadvantage in the 20th century model, because when political discourse is defined by a relationship between big microphones and little consumers, the outcome is going to be warped and bent toward the interests of those who can afford to buy the big microphones — political advertisements, news channels, or political advertisements disguised as news channels. No matter how many truth-seekers there are like you, who manage to obtain a comparable microphone, the 1 percent can always buy more microphones.



Uproar over Citizens United and Fighting "Economic Royalists"

by Annabel Park

There is clearly a need to find an effective way to channel the public's anxiety, anger and fear about how big money is destroying our democracy and country. Exactly how to do that is still an ongoing quest for many of us.

We have a rare opportunity here. Not only because of the Montana Supreme Court's recent ruling defying Citizens United, but because reporters are obsessively covering the impact of super Pacs on this election. The problem is already in the news everyday. Just do a google search for "super-PAC." We are just not taking full advantage of this moment. Not yet anyway.

This is what is clear to me: We have to ramp up the protests into an uproar. We need a big public demonstration of our outrage. In addition, we need a long-term plan to win against our fierce and determined opponents. I love FDR's term for them: economic royalists. Without a plan, we keep tripping over ourselves for short-term gain (often measured by media hits) but not really gain any ground on this issue. I say we need to win not because this is a game, but because this is a power struggle over who governs: We the People or a handful of billionaires.  [MORE]


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Fresh Grounds:
Mainstream Media Darling-Not!

by Debilyn MolineauxCoffee Party Executive Director

Over the last month, many of you have asked me why Coffee Party is not receiving any coverage by the media. I share your frustration!

Two years ago, Coffee Party was a media darling. Annabel Park, Coffee Party Co-Founder, made appearances on many news programs and talked about what Coffee Party stood for and the solutions that were possible through civil dialogue. The media became more and more interested in creating a story about the Coffee Party as the Progressive version of the Tea Party, and booking Annabel as a guest opposite a Tea Party member. Hosts would then ask provocative questions, looking for flare-ups, which would be good for their ratings.

This set-up, while typical of our media, is antithetical to the Coffee Party Civility Pledge. The invitations from media stopped and/or we stopped accepting. Bad news and conflict are big sellers in what is considered “News Worthy.” Basically, the Coffee Party doesn’t grow their ratings. (See follow up article We Are Voyeurs Of Media)

So how can Coffee Party get coverage? We are taking steps to increase our visibility and could use your help. We are forming a public relations committee to assist in writing and sending press releases to the media. Additionally, we need assistance in media follow up calls, especially if you already know someone. Training for our local chapters in connecting with their local media would be great too. We also need to brainstorm other ways to promote Coffee Party besides mainstream media. Are you ready to get involved? If so, please email me.

Together, we make a difference.

New Website for Meeting Minutes

by Jeanene Louden

In order to facilitate a better dialogue with the Coffee Party Membership whom we serve, and, knowing that good ideas come from all parts of a grassroots organization like ours, the Board of Directors has launched a new website for the publishing of meeting minutes.  As Secretary, I will be the one updating the site.  Read and comment by clicking here.  Your ideas, insights, and comments are always welcome. Coffee Party ON! [READ MORE]


Two Membership Drives Come to
Close February 29! 

by Billy Sears

February is coming to a close and with it two special membership drives: The Class of 2012, for new members, and our Founding Member Renewal drive, celebrating the first anniversary of the shockingly successful membership drive that launched this movement.  Lucky for our Founders and for new members, February has an extra day this year.  Please don't forget to renew, or, join the Class of 2012 before 11:59 PM on Feb. 29.  After Feb. 29, you can still join the Class of 2012, and of course you can still renew your membership, but you won't be able to take advantage of our thank you gift: the documentary film known as the Coffee Party prequel, 9500 Liberty.

Our new Board of Directors will soon be sending a special request to Founding Members to please renew before the end of February so that in March, when the Board deliberates in person for the first time, they will have an idea how much support to expect as they plan and budget actions for the rest of 2012.  If you are a Founding Member, please renew by clicking here.

If you are considering becoming a new member as part of the Class of 2012, please click here.

If you have any questions about the status of your Coffee Party membership, please write to member@coffeepartyusa.com

Jessica English New Host of the Bottom Line on Coffee Party Radio 

THE BOTTOM LINE with Jessica English

Sundays at 5 PM ET 

by Jessica English

Thanks to everyone who listened and called into The Bottom Line this past Sunday.  My biggest fear was that I would be talking to my self for an hour-and-a-half.  Also, what would I do if my brain froze? Well, I have come to expect a lot from Coffee Party devotees, and callers you did not disappoint! I was a bit nervous because it was my first time covering all of the technical aspects, but after the first ten minutes, the nerves started to fade as I was drawn in to what folks had to say.

I can’t describe the feeling I had the moment the “blogtalk radio lady” opened the show and it was my mouth that was opening to greet everyone, but I can tell you how thrilling it was when the phone lines lit up.  The civility of the discussion, the diversity of callers, and the breadth of ideas was at times educational, challenging, engaging and even inspiring.  How wonderful to have an opportunity to share and learn the interests, experiences, and recent efforts of involved citizens from New Jersey, to D.C., to Virginia to Washington, and even certain states in between (Iowa and Minnesota).  [MORE]

A Voice for Revolutionary Times:

Larry Lessig's New Ebook, "One Way Forward"

by Eric Byler

We are living in revolutionary times.  Scary, yes, but it is the truth, and the signs are everywhere. Historians will point to two factors, and Lawrence Lessig is the clearest, most compelling voice speaking to both of them:

1. The corrupting influence of money in politics.

2. The Internet.

The Wall Street crash, the Wall Street bail out, the media-induced cover-up, Occupy Wall Street, the recent SOPA/PIPA showdown, and the most unpredictable presidential primary race in history — all have these two factors in common. 

Enormous sums of money have deformed our political process and allowed an invading empire to grow inside us and attack us from within. But it is not in our nature, as Americans, to go down without a fight. Thus, a fight has begun.

Lessig’s conversation with America has always been a two-way street — whether through The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, through his public speaking engagements, or through his writing. And, in revolutionary times, things happen fast. Thus, right on the heels of his 369 page masterpiece Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, Lessig released today a 73-page e-book called One Way Forward ($1.99, Byliner). Here he explains why:

First the good news: For the first time in a hundred years, we have the technology to empower ordinary citizens to be engaged and passionate about their government again.

Now the bad news: The business model for this engagement, of the entities that build these movements of passion, whether for profit or not for profit, make it extremely hard to imagine them ever working together on anything.

The DNA of America is a house divided. A Civil War without guns. Just at the time technology enables us the most, the business model of hate disables us the most. Unless we can find a way around it.

Lessig points out that our country is polarized by design, and decodes how this came to be.  “As competition within media has intensified, so the drive to polarize has increased as well. Commercial media needs devoted listeners; devotion is most extreme at the extremes.”  His concern is that the dominance of partisan news entertainment, as well as polarizing electioneering strategies, decreases civic participation by alienating the public. This in turn limits the conversation to people who can stomach the vitriol and are “obsessed with the horse race of politics” and “the pathetic drama” of power struggle. In our own circles, it may seem like this is the majority of America, but it is not. Our struggle to restore self-governance requires reinforcements. [MORE]

Sign up for The Coffee Party Book Club.


ACTION ALERT: Ask SEC to Require Disclosure of Political Spending by Corporations

Due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate CEOs are spending unprecedented, unlimited, and undisclosed amounts of money to elect the candidates of their choice in 2012, not just in the White House, but in our Congress. But the immense wealth at their command doesn’t really belong to them; it belongs to the shareholders of their companies.
And, no matter how capable, and no matter how powerful this elite group of corporate bosses has come to be, they should not be allowed to include our retirement savings and our investments in their secret political war chests.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal agency charged with protecting the public from fraud and abuse, has the authority to require publicly traded companies to disclose how they spend money to influence our elections.
Please write to them and let them know that you would like them to require such disclosure.  Without taking a position on the controversy over whether corporations are people, or whether money equals speech, taking this action could help to contain the corrupting influence of money in politics by bringing it out into the sunlight. [MORE]

Interested in Organizing in Your Community? 

All politics is local, but Coffee Party national can help you get started by introducing you to thousands of people who live near you and share our values for civil, fact-based, and solutions-oriented deliberation — coupled with action on the issues of Wall Street Reform, Campaign Finance Reform, and Tax Code Reform.  Write to local@coffeepartyusa.com if you are interested.

Click here for more information.
Click here to become an official Coffee Party USA annual member.
Already a member?  ​Click here to support Coffee Party USA by making an additional contribution. 



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