Saturday, January 28, 2012

little known facts in history


Gail Elberg and Lorraine Stevens organizing the unorganized on January 28, 1972 in response to Fred Newman saying -- in an intense collective meeting of diverse (and contentious) collective sixties types who sound off on any given topic - as they please! - AND have the (correct) (and incorrect) positions up the wazoo, as it were:

"I don't care who you are (or what you think about or how you are feeling today)... Go out there and organize the people."

So far, so good!

NH

Friday, January 27, 2012

What if Americans refuse to endorse either of the views that dominate the parties?


OPINION
by Bill King
Before the State of the Union, I decided to drop by the Smithsonian Institution. I was walking through the Museum of American History and stopped at an exhibit about the American flag that was hoisted over Fort McHenry on the morning of Sept. 14, 1814, that signaled the fort had withstood a furious British bombardment the night before.

Several days before the battle, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key had been taken prisoner by the British and was confined to one of their ships lying just offshore. Key watched the battle rage through the night and without modern communications, had no idea of the outcome until he saw a huge American flag still waving above the fort in the dawn's early light. His pride in his country's triumph inspired him to write "The Star Spangled Banner."

Seeing this enormous flag (30 feet by 42 feet) only a few feet away from me and thinking about its history gave me goose bumps. While I was looking at the flag, several dozen of my countrymen filed through the viewing area. All seemed to be equally moved in its presence. There were no Democrats or Republicans, no blacks or whites, no Christian or Muslim, just Americans, swelling with pride over the storied history of this flag.

What I witnessed at the State of Union address that night could not have been more different. I am not necessarily referring to the speech itself but rather the circus on the floor during the speech. About every two or three minutes, all of the Democrats in the room would leap to their feet to cheer one of President Obama's lines while the Republicans would sit scowling with their arms crossed. The more partisan the president's line, the more enthusiastic the Democratic response and the more dour the Republican response.

In the last couple of years there have been attempts to get Democratic and Republican members of Congress to sit together, but the efforts have been largely unsuccessful. With some notable exceptions, such as Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, sitting with Rep. Gabby Giffords, the two parties' seating was mostly segregated. As a result, members in about half of the room kept jumping to their feet while the members in the other half sat on their hands. The whole spectacle could not have been more sophomoric.

There were a few moments that united the room. The longest and loudest applause from every corner of the room came when Giffords entered the chamber. The parties also rose in applause together when the president praised our troops. But those moments were exceptions.

Near the end of the president's speech, he said, "When we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can't achieve." It was one of the few lines of the speech that brought the entire chamber to its feet. But after an hour of watching the partisan reactions, the words, while grand, seemed hollow.

During my visits around the Capitol before and after the address, I repeatedly heard how we should not expect much until after the election on the major issues facing the country. On issue after issue, I heard that the parties are just too deeply divided to find much consensus. Both parties apparently believe that in the election to come, Americans will give them some kind of a mandate to push their agendas.

But what if they do not? What if Americans refuse to endorse either of the views that dominate the parties? What if voters once again decide to return divided government to Washington because the thought of either party being totally in control scares them to death? Do we then have to wait until 2014 to tackle the problems facing our country? And if not then, 2016? 2018? 2020?

In the same day I saw a symbol of America's past, one of unity of purpose and vision, and one of America today, a state of disunion. The question is which will represent America's future.

Email King at weking@weking.net or follow him on twitter.com/weking.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Liveblogging 2012 State of the Union Speech, January 24

Here's a link to a transcript of the President's address from OpEdNews

Unfortunately, President Obama has given short shrift in his SOTU speech to the thousands and millions of Americans who are leaving the two parties. How come?

Party over people will not take us forward.

Back to the grassroots! Organize, organize, organize the unorganized!

NH

10:02: Consolidate Federal bureaucracy... lower the temperature, end the notion that the 2 parties have to battle. "I'm a Democrat" says the President.... quotes Lincoln about role of government (Lincoln was a Repub?) Get rid of regulations that don't work..... govt spending.... 

9:59: Washington is broken (that's cynical) -- debate in Washington over debt crisis... Divide is due to corrosive influence of money in Washington... Limit congressional spending, oversight, etc. Neither party has been blameless, both parties should put an end to it

9:53: Fair values - stop payroll tax to prevent loss of $40 from paycheck...

9:19: Will fight obstruction and the failed policies that brought on this economic crisis... revive manufacturing, etc. Jobs ideas....

9:11: Pres Obama seems to be using the military as an example of competence and responsibility... 

9:10: The President is introduced by Speaker Boehner.

9:07: I'm switching to C-Span.... I'll be looking for any appeal to ordinary nonpartisan independent Americans in President Obama's speech tonight... Michelle O looks great as usual!

9:06: Sawyer: exhausting year of partisanship

9:05: Ok, ABC's Diane Sawyer is not off to a good start already by saying that Dems and Repubs come together tonight.... hmmm..... But I digress....



#1 Reform Issue for Independent Voters: Open Primaries!


OPEN PRIMARIES
  • The Nation: Six GOP Questions (by John Nichols, NPR - John Nichols is a writer for The Nation.) 6. South Carolina held an open primary election, as compared with Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's relatively closed primary. While the first-caucus and first-primary states saw only marginal improvements in turnout, South Carolina's was way up. And, by all accounts, South Carolina counted the votes accurately and produced a clear result — as opposed to the Iowa mess that fostered the lie of Romnevitability. Isn't it time to create a uniform and functional system for nominating candidates? Shouldn't caucuses, which invariably draw narrower portions of the electorate, be eliminated? And shouldn't all states have open primaries where everyone who wants to vote Republican can do so? And shouldn't the rules be structured so that all serious contenders can have a place on the ballot — even in Virginia?
  • Appeals court upholds Washington state's open primary system (By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times) In a decision that could foreshadow survival of California's new "top two" primary system, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a similar Washington state ballot initiative that changed the way voters choose candidates in primaries.
  • American Independent Party Opens its Primary to Independent Voters (Ballot Access News) On January 22, the American Independent Party of California held a meeting of party officers, and voted to tell the California Secretary of State that it will permit independents to vote in its 2012 primary. Of course, because of Proposition 14, the only partisan primaries will be for President. The American Independent Party allowed independents to vote in its primaries in 2008 and earlier years, but in 2010 it changed its rules and didn’t allow independents to vote in its primary.
  • Dems Pre-Endorsements Presage Tough 2012 (Posted by John Myers, KQED/ Capital Notes) Again, these meetings and subsequent endorsements are notable because of the brave new world of party primaries, ushered in by 2010's Proposition 14 top-two system. It's a world unsettled, too, by new district maps that have left more open seats than at any time in recent history.
  • Election 101: Who are Florida primary voters, and how are they different? - In Florida, only preregistered Republican Party members can vote in the GOP presidential primary. That’s different from South Carolina and New Hampshire. Here's a look at the various types of elections. (By Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor) In Florida, only preregistered Republican Party members can vote in the GOP primary. That’s different from South Carolina, where independents and even Democrats could cross over and participate in the Republican primary if they wanted to. It’s also different from New Hampshire, where independents (but not Democrats) could go GOP.
  • Skipping Florida smart for Ron Paul (By Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor, Tampa Bay Times) There's another logical reason: Paul never had much chance of doing well in Florida, which is the first contest in the primary season where only registered Republicans can vote. Paul does best in caucuses and "open primaries" where his army of devoted, young followers can vote Republican whether or not they have any strong allegiance to the GOP.
  • U.S. needs to reform elections (LETTER Greenville online) Set filing dates three months before primary elections. Schedule open primaries for all 50 states on the same day. Hold general elections three months later.
  • On politics: Voting reform must be bold, far-reaching (By RAY HACKETT, Norwich Bulletin) Let’s stop the pretense that we’re “preserving the sanctity of the party” by pretending we don’t want to open primaries to unaffiliated voters while we continue to turn a blind eye to this election-related version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”… Second, let’s give voters a real choice, a real reason to come to the polls. Let’s be bold and declare that all candidates who qualify for the ballot will be treated equally. Let’s stop the hypocrisy of pretending that public financing provides an equal playing field — because it doesn’t if you’re something other than a Democrat or Republican.
  • Latina-led Movement Urges Democratic Latinos to Vote in “Open Primaries”- Anyone But Romney (Hispanically Speaking News.com) Arizona-based National Tequila Party Movement is issuing an action alert to encourage Independent and Democratic Latinos to vote in the numerous state open primary races across the country.

Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network Celebrates MLK



NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK
Birthday salute to Dr. King at National Action   (By HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews) There's not enough room here to recount all the speeches and comments, and there were some precious ones from Erica Ford on stopping the violence; from Dr. Lenora Fulani, who reminded listeners that "poverty is also violence"; and from City Comptroller John Liu, who announced that without King, "I wouldn't be standing here today," he said.

Reform Party Going for Utah Ballot, Independents Speak Out


INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES, PARTIES AND MOVEMENTS

  • Group circulating petitions to get Reform Party on the Utah ballot (By Nkoyo Iyamba, Deseret News) "When Ross Perot ran in 1992, there were two states that he came in second in the polls," said state party organizer Jaime Dives. "One of those states was Maine and the other state was Utah." Dives is circulating petitions to get the Reform Party on the Utah ballot for the 2012 election cycle. She needs 2,000 signatures from registered voters by Feb. 15.
  • Political parties challenged to race to register voters (By Lee Davidson, The Salt Lake Tribune) While Republicans and Democrats already have said they plan major voter registration drives this year, Randy Miller, president of the Utah League of Independent Voters, appeared at the news conference to say his group also will push to register more people as unaffiliated voters.
  • Libertarian Party of Florida hosting major Presidential Debate in Orlando (Karl Dickey, West Palm Beach Libertarian Examiner) The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the US, and is influential in both the Tea Party and Occupy movements due to their strong fiscal conservative positions and socially liberal views.   Polling data indicates that as many as 60% of independent voters consider themselves, “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”

2012 Presidential Race: Where Are the Independents Going?


2012
  • South Carolina and the independent vote (VIDEO The Fix author Aaron Blake looks ahead to the South Carolina primary and how independent voters could play a big part. (Washington Post)
  • Ron Paul's Weak Support Among Registered Republicans Will Hurt Him In Closed Primaries (By: Noah Rothman, …ology.com) The exit polls from South Carolina’s semi-closed primary do not bode well for the Paul. He mirror’s Romney’s appeal among registered independent voters; Romney narrowly won this group with 25 percent to Paul’s 23 percent. Ideologically, Paul performs very well among those that describe themselves as “moderate,” “somewhat liberal,” or “very liberal.” Among voters that describe themselves as “conservative,” between 9 and 11 percent voted for Paul.
  • State of the Union Speech To Feature Sharper Tone (By LAURA MECKLER and CAROL E. LEE, Wall Street Journal) The risk for Mr. Obama, voiced by some members of his own party, is that such a tone may please only the base. "People aren't walking around saying 'the reason why my kid may not attain the American dream is because somebody else is doing extraordinarily well,' " said Jim Kessler, a senior vice president at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. Support from independents was critical in 2008, and they "really do want to look for someone putting country over party," he said.
  • The Third-Party Rail - As the donkey battles the elephant, some say: There’s got to be a better way. (By John Heilemann, New York Magazine) A contest between two incarnations of the status quo is, of course, a decent definition of what an Obama-Romney general election will be: two smart, cool, and diffident candidates, each without a populist bone in his body—though both will try like crazy to pretend that’s not the case—offering nothing that will look to millions of voters like fundamental change. An independent candidate who can offer a real alternative to them, stylistically and temperamentally as well as substantively, could be a genuine game-changer in 2012.
  • South Carolina Exit Poll for Republican Race (CBS News) No matter how you voted today, do you usually think of yourself as a Democrat (4%),  Republican (71%),  Independent (25%)...
  • Independents Remain One Of Obama’s Biggest Election Hurdles (Written by NewsOne Staff) The poll revealed that only 31 percent of Independents viewed the President positively, while two-thirds of Independents were unhappy with the President’s economic progress. These poll findings mean that much of the swing voter base is up for grabs, although it should be noted that most Independents also have a negative view of Republicans.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Independents on the Move in Utah and Iowa


INDEPENDENTVOTING.ORG NETWORKS

Political parties challenged to race to register voters (By Lee Davidson, The Salt Lake Tribune) While Republicans and Democrats already have said they plan major voter registration drives this year, Randy Miller, president of the Utah League of Independent Voters, appeared at the news conference to say his group also will push to register more people as unaffiliated voters.

Did Independents Make a Mark in Iowa? (Jacqueline Salit, President, IndependentVoting.org) Insofar as participating independents expressed a preference in Iowa, they sided with the anti-establishment Ron Paul. But the notion that the Iowa results provide a read on the sensibilities of independents overall is false.




A Third Party in a Two-Party System? Better to Change the System

Polls are showing that the majority of Americans support a "third party" or a "third party candidate" and yet our current partisan political system will not tolerate a challenge from a so-called "third" party or candidate. At the same time, Americans are no dummies -- the fastest growing electoral constituency is nonpartisan independent voters. Hmmmm.......


THIRD PARTY?
  • Group circulating petitions to get reform party on the Utah ballot (By Nkoyo Iyamba, Deseret News) Despite Utahns voting primarily Republican, Dives said most Utah registered voters aren't registered with a political party. "If you go to the lieutenant governor's office and ask for the roll, you'll see that there are more unaffiliated registered voters than there are Republicans and Democrats combined," Dives said. She believes this group is ready for an alternative to the perceived two-party system in America.
  • Obama fares well against third-party challenge (By BYRON TAU, Politico) Via POLITICO's Alex Burns, a Democratic polling firm finds that President Barack Obama's support holds up well if an independent candidate like Michael Bloomberg or Ron Paul were to enter the race.
  • Dude, where's my candidate? (By: Kenneth P. Vogel and Abby Phillip, Politico) “We don’t want to let the process be taken over by the Gary Colemans and the Mary Careys or the Naked Cowboys,” said Bailey. “There are people out there who could get some support, but don’t have the qualifications, and that includes some people out there in the political process already.”
  • Young Voters Propel Ron Paul's Campaign - Young voters gravitating to oldest guy in the field (By Beth Fouhy, NBC Dallas Ft Worth Channel 5)

Independent Voters and the 2012 Election: Tough Crowd!

The New York Times/ CBS News poll that came out Wednesday reveals a disenchantment by independents with Pres. Obama. No indication of any enchantment with the dwindling Repub possibilities... Record high percentage of Americans identify as independents...

  • Poll Shows Obama’s Vulnerability With Swing Voters (By JEFF ZELENY and DALIA SUSSMAN, NY Times) President Obama opens his re-election bid facing significant obstacles among independent voters, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, with the critical piece of the electorate that cemented his victory four years ago open to denying him a second term.
  • Obama hurting with swing voters, poll shows (By MJ LEE, Politico) Just 31 percent of independent voters indicated a favorable opinion of the president in a New York Times/CBS News poll out Thursday, compared to a 38 percent favorability rating among all voters.
  • Obama losing luster with independent voters: poll (Reuters) + Judicial Watch on Washington Corruption poll: The vast majority of registered voters (68%) believe President Obama has either worsened (27%) or not improved (42%) government transparency as he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. Only slightly more than half of registered Democrats believe Obama has improved transparency.
  • Survey: Campaign finance reform could be major 2012 issue (by Aaron Puebla, Campaigns & Elections) According to a new survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, conducted for Democracy Corps, 62 percent of voters oppose the Court’s Citizens United ruling, which permitted unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. And more than three-quarters of voters say they would like to see candidates make campaign finance reform a “key” issue in 2012.
  • A Libertarian Democrat Considers Mitt Romney - So much for the hope that Obama would move the party in a back-to-the-future Jeffersonian liberal direction. (Terry Michael, Reason.com) Then, within 10 months of taking office, he started a second war in Afghanistan. And he took three full years to withdraw troops from Iraq, negotiating until just weeks ago to keep troops there. As his premier domestic policy initiative, Obama rammed through a Democratic-controlled congress a welfare program for pharmaceutical companies, the centerpiece of which was—yes—a mandate forcing millions to buy coverage.
  • Polls show Ron Paul emerging as key player in 2012 race (by Chris Hinyub, IVN) A new poll finds that a third-party bid by presidential hopeful Ron Paul would help re-elect president Obama, but not before taking away 9% of the President’s independent support and 17% of independent voters from Romney. In a separate poll, Paul was found to be competitive against Obama in a head-to-head contest as the GOP nominee.
  • What If Voters Just Don’t Like Mitt Romney? (Benjy Sarlin & Kyle Leighton, TPM2012) While Republican voters are starting to come around to his candidacy, the rest of the country doesn’t seem too pleased with what they see. Romney’s lost six points on favorability among independent voters since Pew’s last poll in November, leading to a 13 point gap on the metric, 33 - 45.

  • Record-High 40% of Americans Identify as Independents in '11 - More Americans identify as Democrats than as Republicans, 31% to 27% (by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup) In recent decades, Gallup has observed a pattern of increased independent identification in the year prior to a presidential election, and a decline in the presidential election year. The only exception to that was in 1992, when independent identification increased from 1991, perhaps the result of President Bush's high approval ratings in 1991 and Ross Perot's independent presidential candidacy in 1992.
  • Voters, redeclarers keep poll workers busy (Nashua Telegraph) She and June Caron managed to keep up with the stream of voters, many of whom admitted that if they didn’t redeclare as independents right away, they could very well forget to do it at all. “That group (independents) has been the majority of our voters so far...”
  • Independent Voters on the Rise but Do They Matter? (Huma Khan, ABC News) Forty percent of voters identified themselves as politically independent in 2011, according to a new Gallup poll released today, the highest number recorded in the poll yet. The previous high for independents was 39 percent in 1995 and 2007. Democrats won both presidential races in the following years.
  • Opinion: The center is back — and Obama needs to be there (By Mark Penn, The Hill) And the more centrist the Republican nominee, the more centrist the president needs to be in order to win in 2012. The huge ideological gap that would have made running against the Republicans an easy romp is disappearing as the exit polls show that even primary voters are choosing practicality over partisanship. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney won with those voters who thought he had a better chance to beat President Obama in November.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia: Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge - SOPA and PIPA

 
Imagine a World
Without Free Knowledge
For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia. Learn more.
Contact your representatives.