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Coffee Connect Newsletter • March. 12, 2012

Coffee Party Shifting Focus

The management for Coffee Party USA is currently collaborating with our Membership to retool our strategic plan based on two historic developments that have transformed our socio-political landscape in recent months.  First, the national narrative has shifted to include, and at times even focus upon Coffee Party issues (tax code reform, Wall Street reform, and campaign finance reform).  Second, the "Information Age" is rapidly giving way to the "Age of Network Intelligence."  The new mission and vision for the Coffee Party, thus, will be less focused on exposing the power infrastructure of the One Percent, and more focused on empowering and connecting the communities that give voice to the 99 Percent.

A week ago, the nine volunteers and two staff members who attended the first in-person Coffee Party Board of Directors reached out to our official members using a web survey tool allowing them to contribute ideas to a new collective vision for our movement.  We specifically asked for feedback and impressions based on this statement of purpose:

Connecting our communities to reclaim our government for the People.

The hundreds of responses we received were incredibly creative, thoughtful, and insightful.  One recurring question proved especially enlightening.  Who is "our" when you refer to "our communities?"  [MORE]


The Science of Denial:
How Corporations Corrupt Science

by Eric Yao

A recent exposé of the corporate funded Heartland Institute's secret documents revealed an elaborate plan to purposefully manipulate K-12 curriculum, with efforts to inject doubt about climate change into young students and ensure that paralysis on clean energy technology and climate change legislation continues for another generation. This exemplifies how far some international profiteering interests will go to systematically misinform the American public.

The strategy of misinformation includes:

  1. Assert there are many other causes of the problem
  2. Claim there is no consensus among scientists
  3. Downplay the validity of the science in any case
  4. Setup lobbying organizations that masquerade as a research institutes
  5. Inject polarization and misinformation into the national discourse using friends in elected office and in the One Percent Media

People fighting the One Percent agenda today may not realize this, but these tactics were pioneered by the tobacco industry. Sixty years ago, the tobacco industry began protecting its profits by penetrated academia, and undermining science in the very same way. Our guest on Thursday's special presentation of Coffee Party Radio will be Robert Proctor, Professor of History at Stanford University. 

Eric Byler talks to Prof. Robert Proctor about the
Pioneers of Science Denial and the Human Cost of Misinformation

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 - 5:30 pm Eastern Time (2:30 pm PT)

CLICK HERE to listen live
Call (646) 929-2495 to join the conversation


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Introducing Coffee Party Feminists 

by Jeanene Louden

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?  That was the subject of Louden Clear, my weekly radio show, when I hosted it last week.  Listen to the show.

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. Listen to the show. We really need to talk this one through.  Also, please see my new on-line newsletter: Coffee Party Feminists.

MORE Coffee Party Radio.

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A 20 Million Citizen Movement

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. [MORE]


Below is a list of actions the Coffee Party encourages our members to support and join:


Take the Anti-Corruption Pledge

Across the country, citizens and candidates are pledging to fight the corrupting influence of political cash.  Join our friends at United Republic and help build the movement to reclaim our democracy.

To take the pledge, you must commit to something for this cause. At a minimum, you agree to be counted. Ideally, you recruit others, including candidates for Congress. You choose the principles that you commit to.

If you're a candidate, you can choose the specific proposals that would enact those principles. [MORE]


Join the 99% Spring

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country.

We are at a crossroads as a country. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The choice is in our hands. This spring, we will act on that choice and rise up in the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers. We will not be complicit with the suffering in our families for another year. We will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action. 

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:

  1. Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
  2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
  3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.

This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time. [MORE]


Fight 'Citizens United'

3,100 Americans have signed up to coordinate resolutions week efforts in more than 1000 cities and towns for Resolutions Week!

Sign Up to Organize for a Constitutional Amendment in Your Community this spring, we’re planning a push to pass 100 new local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, centered around Resolutions Week in June. Will you join us? We also know that many cities and towns have already passed resolutions.

If this is the case, you can work to move forward a ballot initiative or work to get a resolution passed in your county or state.

ACTION: They did it in Vermont. Will YOUR town be next? CLICK HERE to join the movement.

Notes from First In-person
Coffee Party ​Directors Meeting

by Jeanene Louden

The Board Planning Meeting is over, but our work is not! [Sigh] Everyone is gone except Eric Byler and me: we both head out in the morning. Here is the status report, as promised.

Our draft Mission Statement was sent out to current members Saturday morning. After a day of working on our Vision Statement and all the processing that goes with it, we were shocked and delighted to find we had over 200 responses to our request for input! Sunday was spent on our Strategic Plan.

With so many generous opinions to review, we did not feel right having asked for input and not giving it the consideration it deserved, so all three efforts were completed in draft and will be finalized during our conference call on Thursday. (Yes, about 96 hours from now.)

Core Values are still on the horizon, but everyone is feeling optimistic. In some ways this is a review/reconsider process. Still, it is important that we have a common understanding of our words, and that we be in complete agreement, if we are going to remain the team we have become when we are thousands of miles apart. [READ MORE]

America's Problem Revealed in Two Air Travel Conversations 

by Egberto Willies

On March 1, 2012 I was off to Chicago for my first face-to-face Board of Directors meeting with the Coffee Party USA, an issues and advocacy based political organization. A 29-year-old friendly young lady sat next to me and we immediately began talking. It turned out she had a PhD in Chemical & Biological Engineering so I knew the conversation was going to be the nerdy type, being a Mechanical & Software Engineer myself. Interestingly enough, we spoke technical jargon for about 5 minutes.

She told me she worked as a consultant for hospitals navigating healthcare reform and general efficiencies. While she was extremely knowledgeable in the mechanics of hospital operations and what needed to be done for the hospital, she had no political or social awareness as to the negative effects of our current healthcare system and other aspects of our social safety net. She told me she did not watch TV or read newspapers and as such knew very little about what was occurring in our national discourse. I began talking about a healthcare system, in which the risk pool was all of America, and why only a single payer system could manage such a risk pool without leaving a group of folks uninsured, or leaving those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly with ridiculously high premiums. Her answer was that because she had excellent insurance she never thought much about that, but would entertain the idea if I could present her a paper with numbers to make the case.

The fact that she requested new information from outside her immediate domain be handed to her (as opposed to being willing to do the research on her own) reminded me of why purveyors of false information like Fox News can be so  effective on a large scale. But the conversation with her was great because her raw intellect made the two and half hour flight to Chicago seem like 15 minutes. At the end of the flight she teased me a bit on my idealism and I invited her to help write policy papers for the Coffee Party.

At the board meeting I used her as an example to illustrate the task we had at hand: to help Americans focus on what is really important for our nation as a whole. The country is full of smart people, but many of them are apathetic or dismissive of their civic duty. After an extremely intense board meeting that went for three days, two days with sessions past 1 AM, I was ready to come back to Houston and decompress. We codified the direction we were taking the Coffee Party to best engage and make a difference in our body politic, not only during election years, but also during the on-going process of finding solutions for systemic problems written into our laws.

On the flight back I sat next to a 22-year-old German young lady, and, coincidentally, a Spanish man who lives in Germany. The German lady was distressed because the flight was late and she had to catch a connecting flight to Monterrey, Mexico to meet her boyfriend. She was crying after the flight attendant was dismissive of her.  [MORE]

Why I Support Buddy Roemer

by Diane Goldman
I have recently become a volunteer for Buddy Roemer for President. I am also a member of the Coffee Party USA and a volunteer with Americans Elect.

Independent Charles (Buddy) Roemer embodies my reformist views and I fully support him as a candidate for President. Early last October I watched Dylan Ratigan interview Buddy Roemer who was running in the GOP primary at that time. I loved what I was hearing! Here is someone who speaks for me!
Like Ratigan, whom I greatly admire, former Governor and Congressman Buddy Roemer wants to reform the campaign financing system and he calls for immediate reporting of big contributions to federal campaigns. Like Ratigan, Roemer echoes that our government is bought and sold to the highest bidder saying “Both parties are joined at their wallets.” I could not agree more! In addition, Roemer supports the spirit of the Occupy movement and has joined protesters at Wall Street and in New Hampshire. Governor Roemer also spoke at the Coffee Party Rally in Washington DC in October.
Roemer has never taken PAC money, not while running for US Congress or running for Governor of Louisiana.  He is Free to Lead. This makes him unique among all candidates. [MORE]


Fox "News" on Gas Prices 2008 

by Eric Byler

First it came from Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and then again today from Gov. Bob McDonnell on Meet the Press.  "Gas prices have doubled since President Obama took office."  That would mean that gas prices were under $2.00 during the Bush years, and that's not what I recall.  But, as with most Republican talking points, if you've heard it once, you know it's been echoed a thousand times in One Percent Media outlets and hundreds of times on more journalistic programs like Meet the Press.  The Fox News montage above compiled by Media Matters seems to argue that gas prices and electioneering do not go hand-in-hand, but that was 2008.

In 2012, the very same media giant, Fox News, is blaming the Obama Administration for rising gas prices, perhaps feeling forced into this tactic by the fact that the economy and jobs numbers have been improving.  But if we watch this video from 2008, when the relationship between Fox's hyper-partisan agenda and the White House was otherwise aligned, we see it's very easy to make the argument that a President cannot be blamed for gas prices if accuracy and integrity are as important to you crudely as disguised electioneering.

Can there be any explanation for the 180 degree about-face on Fox "News" than a change in who occupies the White House? How stupid do they think we are? [MORE]


Voting Rights Act of 2012

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). 

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.  [MORE]


Organizing 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.


No Labels' No Budget, No Pay

Congress has only passed a budget and all spending bills necessary to fund the government four times in the past 60 years. Congress has the lowest public approval rating in history.

It all comes down to a simple fact: Congress is not doing its job – and the most basic job Congress has is deciding how much money the government takes in and how much it spends.  

If Congress can’t make spending and budget decisions on time, then members should not be paid on time either.

No Budget, No Pay bills have already 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), and both bills have numerous bipartisan co-sponsors.

Every government fiscal year begins Oct. 1. With this bill, if the congressional appropriations (spending) and budget process are not completed by that date, congressional pay would cease as of Oct. 1. Congressional salaries would not be paid until appropriations are completed, and members would not receive their lost salaries retroactively.

This reform is the first solution in No Labels' 12-point action plan to Make Congress Work! The plan features a dozen common sense proposals to fix the outdated rules, procedures and traditions that have turned Congress into a broken institution. [MORE]



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