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Coffee Connect Newsletter • April 2, 2012

2012 Strategic Plan, Submitted for Input and Collaboration

 
The Coffee Party's first elected Board of Directors invites you to join a collaborative, organic, and transparent process to develop our Strategic Plan as a "living document" in order ensure our methods and philosophies are up to date in a world that is changing at a rapidly accelerating rate. The work below resulted from a collaboration between our Board and our Official Members.  We are now inviting public comment. Everyone is welcome to contribute ideas, and everyone is welcome to borrow from them.  There are forms for submitting comments and suggestions below (one for Official Members who elect the Board of Directors, and one for valued voices in our community who are not yet voting members).  For some background on how this work was accomplished, please read Eric Byler's March 10 blog "Coffee Party Shifting Focus." @CoffeePartyUSA

Mission Statement: Connecting communities to reclaim our government for the People.

Vision Statement: Coffee Party USA envisions a nation of diverse communities sharing a culture of informed public engagement where our sacred right to vote is the only currency of our democracy.

Strategic Plan

Problem: News, information, and political discourse have been professionalized and consolidated under the dominion of powerful media empires with morally ambiguous loyalties and objectives.  Viewing audiences, particularly older ones as studies show, have come to confuse high ratings and conflict-driven entertainment with reliable news and information sources, to our nation's peril.

For America to succeed in the 21st century, we must make better decisions. To do that, we must transform ourselves from clusters isolated by geography, culture, or ideology into an Intelligent Network, connected through trans-media communications.  The Coffee Party USA has been an early, comparatively successful model for such a network. But America needs us to do better — much better.

We know there is a growing subsection of society that has not developed entrenched news and information gathering habits.  Increasingly, Americans are seeking out multiple sources of information, doing so in a creative and evolving manner, and doing so primarily via the web.  Soon, the Internet will overtake television as the most frequently used media conduit.  This bodes well for We the People, as the Internet is where we've had the most success competing with narratives that flow from our resident media empires.  However, we are concerned that many Americans have a limited interest in journalistic and political content, due to the partisanship, misinformation, and incivility that has characterized it in recent decades. People are working very hard, focused on survival, and when they do have time for media content, they seek out more engaging and more entertaining ways to connect with the world at large.

How can we create an Intelligent Network that appeals to diverse audiences, and encourages everyday Americans to embrace their natural intellectual curiosity, their natural desire to connect with other people, and their natural sense of civic duty as paths to empowerment? [MORE]


 

Koch Brothers Exposed:
You Must See This Film to Believe It

Koch Brothers Exposed: a film that reveals the link between the very, very wealthy, and the very, very suggestible (and how the power of this link hurts America).

CLICK HERE to get a DVD, then:

  • Organize a screening in your home, a local church, library, or a community center  
  • Register your screening so others can find it.
  • Invite friends, family and community members to your screening
  • Download the free Action Guide and poster

[MORE]


Coffee Party Radio:
Prison for Profit

by Don Manning

Over the last few decades, the population of U.S. prisons has skyrocketed. At about 8 per 1000, we now have the highest percentage of incarcerated than any country in the world. Has crime risen? Are police techniques becoming more successful? Have the courts become tougher in sentencing? Could the growing business of prisons for profit be the cause? On Monday’s program, we will discuss the connection of “ALEC” (American Legislative Exchange Council), the Corrections Corporation of America, Geo Group and legislation across the country that is making privatizing the prison system such a booming business.  Join in the conversation @ 8pm Pacific/ 11pm Eastern.

Speaking of America with Don Manning

Mondays at 11 pm ET 8 pm PT

Call in: (646) 929-2495

LISTEN LIVE.


 
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A Nation Where There Is No "Other"

by Eric Whinery, Coffee Party Treasurer

My name is Eric Whinery and I have recently been elected to your Board of Directors as the Treasurer of Coffee Party USA.  Currently I live and work in the city of Chicago with my lovely wife and our wonderful Basset Hound. I am employed as a financial analyst with a heavy emphasis on Information Technology (IT) and related budgeting and reporting.  I earned a degree in finance and have worked in IT and IT operations management, accounting, and tax preparation.  As Treasurer, I apply my broad background to serve as custodian of your donations of funds to the cause.  

Our nation is divided and many of us are suffering because of it.  Several of my friends have gone through long spells of unemployment or lost their homes because of health care costs, even when they had insurance. Others struggle to put food on the table and care for their children even while fully employed. These problems were not brought on by mistakes or negligence on their part; they are victims of a heartless system that is disjointed and unbalanced.  [MORE]
 


Become an Official Coffee Party Member

Renew your Coffee Party Membership

Already a member? Click here to contribute.


 

Rally at the SEC Against Secret Money in Politics Sparks Wave of Emails

by Cameron Michaels

The struggle to inject a measure of transparency to corporate electioneering and lobbying has gained some momentum over the last few days as the protests at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have led to a wave of letters asking the SEC to require corporations to disclose political spending.

"The SEC can do something about the fact that money is taking over the political process," said Bill de Blasio, the public advocate for New York City. "They can force publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending. It's not a lot to ask to simply disclose what they're doing. The SEC has the power, but the SEC is not using the power."(1)

At the center of this corporate money/influence peddling scam is a government organization that was created to regulate such atrocious actions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, whose infamous notariety has been noted over the last decade as incompetent. The SEC now has a vested interest in seeming to do something positive for the people as they were asleep at the switch during the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme and failed to regulate Wall Street before during and after the 2008 financial crisis that led to the great recession. The lack of action by the SEC has left the country with a laser focus on its accountability, and whether or not it can even do its job. The SEC is now seen as one of the "Keystone Cops" on the financial industry beat due to its cozy relationship with Wall Street and the people want answers. Groups are urging the SEC to force Publicly traded Corporation to disclose their electioneering activities as a protection of all shareholders that own those company shares involved in electioneering activities. [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]


We Must Not Be Gamed by the Health Care Debate

by Egberto Willies

Every American citizen has access to some sort of healthcare right now. The problem is that those without insurance generally seek it at emergency rooms where it is much more expensive and when it is often too late for effective treatment. All of us who pay our insurance premiums and/or pay our taxes pay for this and other tremendous inefficiencies now. We pay our share AND we pay for those without insurance by paying our higher taxes and the higher insurance premiums caused by the uninsured. This is fact.

We know that before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), an insurance company could cancel your insurance almost at will, stop paying after a cap is reached, arbitrarily deny coverage, deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, and charge higher premiums for women than men. Likewise, before Obamacare, all middle class Americans who had the misfortune of getting a chronic illness would have to go bankrupt before they could get assistance after their insurance cap was reached.

Obamacare, while not a panacea, is a very large step forward in making our healthcare system more efficient and more humane. I read the bill and I keep it posted at my website. Once implemented, it can be modified to make it better. We all want a good healthcare system. Hyper-partisans and health care profiteering interests have been extremely successful in maligning the intent of this bill. Some who accept their framing simply abhor big government and that is legitimate. When it comes to healthcare one should ask who do you trust more, a private company you have no control over, and whose profit is dependent on minimizing your access to healthcare--or, our elected government who we can un-elect if they do us wrong?

The private sector is simply unqualified to provide healthcare insurance in an efficient manner. We are a profit based society. Profits lead to great innovation, great medicines, medical equipment, and procedures. However, making profits in basic health insurance leads to inefficiencies for two specific reasons. It takes no innovation to pay a bill and to make a profit, and insurance companies manage their finances by excluding and under-serving sick people. [MORE]


 

Fight 'Citizens United' with
Resolutions Week

by Eric Byler

Thank you Coffee Party members for helping to support Resolutions Week, which aims to coordinate more than 150 state and local resolutions opposing the "Citizens United" decision on the week of May 7, 2012.  

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.  They did it in California. Will YOUR state or town be next? CLICK HERE to join the movement.


Trayvon's Death a Reminder of Work We Must Do 

by Egberto Willies

I was Trayvon Martin the day I came to America.

My first stop in America was a little town called Brenham, TX in 1979. It is home of the Texas famous Blue Bell Ice Cream and Blinn Junior College. My ticket to study engineering in America was based on a music scholarship, but that’s another subject.

I was a wet-behind-the-ears black kid who spoke with an accent in a country town. The black American kids were suspicious of me, the white American kids were curious, and the Hispanic American kids giggled when I spoke to them in Spanish. I hung out with Peruvian, Argentinian, Guatemalan, and Venezuelan friends most of that year. We were all strangers in a new land away from our parents for the first time who shared one thing in common — we could all communicate in Spanish and when strange things happened, we could enter our cocoon. It is amazing how quickly and quietly human beings adapt.

We were walking down one of the few commercial streets in Brenham when some guys in a pickup truck just started shouting nigger and, if I remember correctly, something about being in the wrong part of town. It was directed solely at me because, while we were all Latinos walking down that street, I was the only black one.

I remember going to Padre Island for spring break. Six of us packed like sardines in my car. I remember getting to the beach house and the coldness with which I was treated on the island, compared to my geographic brothers and sisters from South and Central America. Funny thing is they never had a clue.

I always knew Blinn was a stepping stone to move up, and I moved up to the University of Texas at Austin (UT) after a year at Blinn. I had no problem getting in on my own merit, but most of my friends assumed I got in thanks to some quota. They did not realize as a foreigner I did not qualify. Both students and professors in many instances went out of their way to remind me that I was an “other.” I rallied the campus for UT’s divestiture from South Africa given their overtly brutal apartheid system. I understood that fighting injustices somewhere else helped to hold up a mirror to the injustices we faced locally.

I remember being stopped many times by the police. It's not that I was a bad driver. Most of the stops seemed to have only to do with a desire to question me. It was never confrontational. I did as I was told. You see, where I am from, Panama, a dispute with an officer guarantees a cracked skull with no legal recourse, so the cops in Austin likely thought I was a model citizen. From a young age, I always knew when and where to engage. I adapted. [MORE]


Greed Advocate Turns Against Grover Norquist

by Will Rice

You may be surprised, considering how I spent Tax Day last year, that I have decided to take on the most powerful Rich Man's Lobbyist in U.S. history.

The American Taxpayer is fighting back on Tuesday April 17 in Washington DC, and I'm proud to say I've been working hard to help to plan the event.  If you live in or near the Washington, D.C., area, you can make an important statement on April 17. 

Stand up to Grover Norquist!
Tues. April 17, 2012
12 noon

Grover Norquist’s Office
722 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Who’s Grover Norquist? He’s the Washington lobbyist more responsible than any other for our out-of-whack tax system, the impoverishment of our public goods and services, and federal budget gridlock.

For the past quarter century, he’s made it his life’s mission to enshrine inequality in the tax code; to make sure Wall Street One Percenters never pay their fair share; to guarantee that one side of the budget equation—the revenue side—is untouchable…except to provide more tax breaks for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations. 

How does he do it? Through a notorious “pledge” that one half of Congress has by now signed—a pledge that forces members to violate their oath of office by putting special interests above the interests of their constituents and the good of the country. [MORE]



Police Riot at Occupy Wall St.

by Eric Byler and Jessica English

Justin Wedges, an eye witness to last night's police crackdown on a rally at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, provided the following account via email:

"Last night, the NYPD incited what amounts to a police riot in Zuccotti Park. After several hundred of us gathered for a peaceful General Assembly, with figures like Michael Moore and Cornel West dropping in from Left Forum to show their solidarity, NYPD brutally beat and arrested around 100 people, including my friend Cecily McMillan, who was beaten so hard her ribs were cracked, she had a seizure, and she had to be taken to the ER, where she was denied visits from family and friends and still remains, to my knowledge."

The Occupy Movement is something more than just the sum total of the efforts and incidents involving law enforcement and those who put their bodies on the line. It has become an “institutional emblem” — to which One Percent Media, its employees, and its consumers are deliberately attaching meaning, and seeking to alter in ways that are not always fact-based or honest.  Another front in this narrative war is law enforcement.

But let's remember that law enforcement is an instrument of power.  Like any instrument of power, it can be abused by the state, or in this case, those institutions that have power over the state.

During this broadcast, we push back against the narrative of One Percent Media that characterizes the Occupy Movement as purposeless and degenerate. Prior to the wave of police crackdowns, we summarize the political sentiment of the Occupy Movement as "basically the Coffee Party but younger." [MORE]
 


 

The Anti-Corruption Pledge

Across the country, citizens and candidates are pledging to fight the corrupting influence of political cash.  Join our friends at Rootstrikers 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]


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.
 

 

 



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