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Why the Jefferson Memorial Dancers can dance alone in their room. June 1, 2011

Posted by caradox in Progressive Politics.
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I spent most of the weekend talking myself out of writing this. After I got the 400th tweet and status about how wonderful these activists are, and how the awful horrible terrible no-good police brutalized them, I just can’t hold my tongue.

I don’t want to be the cranky old pragmatist drag bitching about about these meddling kids. But I’m going to. The more I think about it, the more I have concerns about allowing this kind of “activism” to go on without any reflection on how and why it is done, and why it is counterproductive to true methods of civil change.

Here are my specific issues with the action that these people took at the Jefferson Memorial on Saturday, May 28th and why I believe that those celebrating and promoting them need to take a big step back and reflect before turning them into heroes:

1 – The most important thing you should know is that this action was not, and does not comport with peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. Those who have never experienced it first hand likely do not know this, but a civil disobedience event is (and pardon the pun given the circumstances) a dance. It is a carefully orchestrated and methodical set of moves in which a group of organized resistors plan ahead, aware going in that they are knowingly acting in violation of the law, what the likely consequences of their action will be, and exactly how they are expect themselves to behave during every step of the event in order to achieve the goal of peaceful non-violent and civil (civil as in polite) disobedience. In our modern political environment, that means that the actors (the protestors) and the police often have full awareness and communication of what each side will do. There are several very specific ways in which this event did not meet the rules:

– This event was publicized as a celebratory flash mob and a civil disobedience – at no time in the invite video does Adam Kokesh tell viewers that if they participate they can expect to be arrested. What he does indicate is that they intend to not “cause a disturbance” for those visiting the memorial. If any viewers were drawn to have some fun, they were doing so without a clear understanding of what they would likely encounter – a police presence, arrests, and legal consequences. That kind of setup, with a wide open public invitation is a setup for trouble.

– At the event, the participants proceed to take a set of actions that are not typical of well organized civil disobedience. If you watch the long version video, you will see the lead police officer do what is expected and normal, he approaches the group and calmly lays out for them that they will be arrested, and that if they live outside the 50 mile radius they will be held over for the weekend. What he gets from the group is not normal. They should be communicating with him to work the dance – yes, Officer, we understand that you will do your job, yes we understand that we will be arrested, we will not allow ourselves to be arrested willingly but we will peacefully resist arrest – we will do that by sitting together or laying down on the ground and you will have to physically remove us. Instead they pepper him with questions that they should already know the answer to, they argue with him, they yell, they snark, they scream, they wander individually across a wide public space – all actions that connote no peaceful coordination, no civil respect for the officers or the public around them. Here’s a tip: If you find yourself yelling at a civil disobedience action, “I don’t understand! I didn’t even hear you!” or “You didn’t give me a warning!” — you are doing it wrong. The police officer did his job up front – he tried to communicate what was going to happen, he was providing a clear warning, the dance takes both sides to know the steps, and you didn’t want to hear him.

– Here’s a big one – and it comes at 2:28 in on the video. When the police officer tells one man to put his hands behind his back for arrest, a second protestor (in brown shirt) physically interferes by grabbing the arm of his pal and bodily pulling him in the opposite direction. One cop, two protestors, both physically in motion – bad idea, not proper technique at all.

I think you’ve got my point here – the method of peaceful non-violent civil disobedience is a well-honed process and this group had no interest in doing it right. That would have defeated the purpose. Which brings me to…

2 – The motives of those participating are not what they seem. The invitation, video and online promotion of what happened, and promotion of the exciting follow-on events now planned feature the “Adam versus The Man” logo. Yep, the centerpiece of this event is Adam Kokesh, host of “Adam versus The Man” online video show. I hope the people who showed up at the event knew that they were being used to help a online personality get some headlines. As my wise friend @dvnix notes in his take on the event (and I love him for calling it “Martyr Porn” by the way!), Kokesh “is a serial provocateur and self-promoter.” he also notes that a second participant and arrestee is none other than Medea Benjamin of Code Pink (she of the “I didn’t heeeear you!” objections). Want to learn more about Adam Kokesh? (I’m sure he’d love the attention) go watch his show, you’ll get to see his nice long friendly discussion with Grover Norquist, including the fond memory of their meeting at a Ron Paul event. I’m sorry, were you under the impression that Adam Kokesh is a Democrat? A Progressive? A believer in peace? Oooookay, umm, he’s not.

3 – But but but, the police were BRUTAL! Yes, yes, I know, a thousand tweets telling you there was “SHOCKING POLICE BRUTALITY” can’t be wrong. Actually I believe that they are self-serving and wrong. I watched that video repeatedly, and while I don’t love cops having to put a knee onto the upper back of a person to hold them down for arrest, and I don’t love watching a cop essentially sweep Adam Kokesh down to the ground, there is actually nothing brutal about it. It’s done by the book, right down to the carefully trained hand-holds.

Again, remember – there was no coordination on how this would go, no communication between the protestors and the police, and the protestors broke a number of standard practices that keep things calm, peaceful, and safe for both sides and the public bystanders.

Now widen your focus and consider this: In the 11 minute video, as protestors are dancing around the statue of the guy they so much revere, as they yell “This is a POLICE STATE!” and argue with the police and grab someones arm and pull, you should notice something else — there are families all around them. Look for the small children, the grandma with the scarf around her head. This was an open tourist space with people all around. If you had a group of yelling, wandering, lets face it, angry people in what was supposed to be the calm, thoughtful, respectful shrine to Jefferson how would YOU handle them if you were those police officers? Take a quiet moment and put your kids in that space, your grandma on those marble stairs, and you tell me how you would want this handled when we are not looking at organized, respectful, civil protest?

Want to know how much Adam Kokesh respects and wants to work with the police? His Facebook status just after being released should make it obvious:

Adam Kokesh

I’ve been released from jail. Tragically, the officers involved still have to go home and be disgusting despicable people.

Saturday at 5:19pm

4 – But but but, civil disobedience is necessary when the law prohibits the First Amendment! Its just too important!

I’m sorry, this was a protest against what again? A law that makes it illegal to dance inside the Jefferson Memorial. Inside. Not a law that makes dancing illegal anywhere, or anywhere on the DC Mall, or even down out in front of the memorial. Inside.

Fine, it sounds like a stupid law. To prove this, I am going to go to a public school tomorrow, walk right in and dance to show I have the right to expression in any public space. What? You think it might be against the law for me, a person who doesn’t work or have kids at a school to just walk right into one? And what the hell is with these id cards and having to check-in as a visitor? I don’t care if you want your kids safe, I want to dance!

Maybe instead I’ll just take my dancing to marble and fresh-air type public structures. Check me out doing the watusi at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial! Woohoo! I can see my reflection in the wall! Oh, I’m sorry, did you want to leave a token to remember a friend you lost, a son? You wanted to do a rubbing of your uncle’s name? Step back! I’m doing the Dougie for freedom!

So let’s check ourselves a second here — this crisis of danceability is so severe, so restricting of the rights and health and the very lives of people that it calls for the ultimate step in protest, the civil disobedience step. This group is so concerned about the impact of not being able to DANCE in this very specific location that they skipped all of the necessary lead-up steps – they didn’t petition, make calls or visits to their officials, they went straight for public video capture? Please give me a break.

Ultimately, that’s what makes me most annoyed at having to even bother with this event. What a completely self-serving and insignificant agenda. I applaud people who want to get out there and be visible standing up for what they believe. They are the energy and motion that gets everyone else to care about issues that desperately need attention. I’ve done my share of dancing in protest, and holding signs, and marching for things like ending Apartheid, fighting AIDS, stopping death squads, protecting reproductive rights. It turns out we still have big things that need action, and we need really effective people out there doing something about them. So this noise just makes us look stupid, and misdirected, and disrespectful of police, the law, and our fellow citizens.

If you want to dance… dance on over to a food bank and help make sure that our unemployed families are getting the help they need. Dance over to a medical clinic and volunteer. Dance over to your Congressperson’s office and ask them why we are cutting services to our most needy instead of asking our most wealthy to chip in more.

You can make a difference today doing any one of those things, and it will have an immediate human effect. But it won’t get you advertisers for your website, get you bookings on MSNBC or fill your donations meter. If those are your priority – dance alone.

Yes, We Really Are. January 21, 2011

Posted by caradox in Progressive Politics.
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I forgot to believe it for a little while.

I’ve been riding out the past 2 months since the midterms on a wave of exhaustion. The next two years have been filling me with visions of slamming my head on a brick wall, battling just to hold onto the little patch of ground we’ve taken. Then, Tucson. I have literally sat on my hands for days trying not to say too much, or get too angry, or, worse, hope for something good to come out of this – because I’ve hoped before.

But – something has been happening. It started small and has built up, bit by bit. We really are having the conversations I hoped we would. The President really did give the speech he needed to in Tucson last week – the one a President is supposed to give. One by one, the media did turn from the initial breathless stories about specific quotes and web graphics to the more important discussions that needed to be had about mental health care, guns in America, and the tone of our political discourse. Some for just a little while, but many for much longer than I really expected.

That this Monday was America’s day to remember and honor the life of Dr. King seems even more of a blessing than usual this year. It came just at the moment when we most needed think about his words, his work, and the movement that he gave spirit to. We needed a day of reflection as much as we have needed it in a very long time.

We’ve had blessings these past two weeks. We needed the pictures of Gabby and Mark holding hands in the hospital. We needed to see the faces of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Nancy Pelosi as they spoke of seeing Gabby open her eyes. We needed to hear that the amazing Representative Gabrielle Giffords is outdoing even the most optimistic predictions for her recovery. It’s helping all of us.

For once, I am grateful for polls – yes I said that, polls. They are telling us something that we have also needed to hear: The American people have seen the anger and heard the yelling, they’ve given everyone a chance to make their case, and they’ve had enough of it. Right now, they don’t want another self-serving bit of it from anyone.

Senators of different parties are planning to sit with each other at the State of the Union. I know, it’s tiny. It’s meaningless in the grand scheme. It’s a throwaway gesture. It doesn’t change anything. And yet… it has never happened before. It has the opportunity to be the first time the cameras pan the gallery without us taking bets on which phrase tilts the room to the left or right. It certainly wouldn’t be a game-changer. But it’d be nice.

Once I start letting small, hopeful thoughts in, bigger ones started to pop open:

The House Republicans took their vote yesterday to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act. They had their moment to give their closing statement on why it was wrong bad terrible horrible. But it is still the law of the land today. In two years it will still be the law of the land, and more of its benefits will be understood and appreciated by the people it was meant to help. We may nibble at provisions and amendments and funding aspects, but we will not be going back to square one, not ever.

The Mighty Duck Congress of December really did repeal DADT. After 17 years, it is on its way into the history books. And we will not be going back on that one, either. We will, in fact, be going forward – we will have Equal Marriage in this country. The changing opinions of Americans on gay rights have been tracked, and they are shifting exponentially now. It is not a matter of whether, but when.

Those things happened. In spite of our economic turmoil, in spite of two wars, in spite of a media juggernaut that is hell-bent on convincing us that we are standing on the precipice of disaster or civil war at every moment, we have moved forward.

The State of Union is coming up. The media is starting to talk about shifts in poll numbers for the President. The American people are showing positive reaction to people doing the right things – like working with each other – and turning away from people doing the wrong things – like making it all about themselves. Something is actually sneaking past the pundits and political gimmicks, it’s the sound of rational people talking to each other.

And if that’s not enough for you – pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

So when I look at the calendar today, and I remember that 2 years ago I was out there in the cold for a purpose, I can say tonight what I was much too down recently to say. We really are doing fine. We’re getting through the hard stuff, and we have done a whole lot of things that our kids are going to one day think were so obviously right.

Yes, we have challenges.  Some are big, hairy, ugly deals like Afghanistan, closing Gitmo, getting more jobs created faster, fixing our educational inequities, and the pernicious role of corporate money in our political system. But we’ve got a lot of good people out there trying to get something done. And we are only 2 years into our opportunity to be the kind of citizens and leaders that we wanted to be. We’re in this for the long haul. And we ARE making a difference.

For the record: Non-spiracy Theories October 10, 2010

Posted by caradox in Progressive Politics.
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This has been a wacky week. I’ve been sitting on most of what I had to say. Didn’t want to make it worse. But now that Gawker has done their story, I’m feeling a little more able to talk about it because when I say how bizarre it all was, people will actually understand a little.  I do think there are a couple of lessons in it worth remembering.

It goes like this:

On Thursday after a long day of work and school, I came home to find that someone had posted a YouTube video in which I had a bit role. I’m not going to embed the video here, or even link to it. It is 13 minutes long, with godawful music and tells a sordid tale about a vast conspiracy of Twitter accounts, funded by the Democrats (of course!), on a quest to destroy the Tea Party through, apparently, middle-school potty humor. In weaving their web of connections, like CSI: Camp Wallawoo,  the video makers grabbed screenshots of anyone they even remotely thought involved.

And so I got to see my own mug and phone number somewhere 12 or 13 minutes into the slide show.

Like a whole lot of other people who found themselves in the video, my first reaction was What The…? Then it was laughter at the absurdity. Then a wee bit of concern at the idea of having to warn my hubby in case we got hate mail or phone calls (he took it in stride). I basically made jokes about it and told the other baffled parties not to worry too much, we might get some nasty tweets but it’ll blow over, they’ll move on when they realize there’s no there there.

Gawker made it all a lot better this morning by running their story explaining some of the mystery – like who the cussing, obnoxious Twitter accounts were that had created much of the drama. And within hours, things melted into a ridiculous tale of grown men who have way too much time on their hands.

But here’s the thing — this story, even before the video made it more colorful, included some behaviors that folks haven’t seen if they’ve only seen the video and the Gawker article. There were blog posts well before then that attacked some good people. Two friends were essentially harassed day after day for weeks by people who sought to embarrass them, destroy their business, and hurt Democratic candidates. That was decidedly not so funny.

I don’t do conspiracy theories. I don’t extrapolate this into a big coordinated effort by Tea Party members to tie up progressive activists in a circus during the month before the election (I’m sure some will). I think the simplest explanation is usually the right one. A small group of people who felt harassed and abused on Twitter (and by the way, they clearly were to some extent, just not by the people they thought) then convinced themselves and each other that something more sinister was afoot. I understand how powerless they must have felt, having someone harangue them with disgusting messages. Somewhere amidst the social isolation and access to way too much information on the intertubes (like a hypochondriac having access to Web MD) they cobbled together a story bigger than gravity can hold together.

So that’s the gist of the tale. And here’s what I want to say from my perspective – I earned that right when they included me in their little video:

– It is not okay for people to harass others. Period. I don’t care what political, religious, national, or sports team loyalties one has. Get a life.

– I and many mentioned in that video were completely uninvolved in anything. We weren’t participants in or even cheerleaders for any of the obnoxious behaviors that either did or were alleged to have taken place. We literally had no idea what all that insanity was.

– If you do receive a link to a big shocking story, consider the source. A couple of well-known right wing personalities – Andrew Breitbart, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website posted the video and related information without even a thought. Even if parts of it had any truth to them, a big chunk of it was provably untrue and involved completely provably innocent parties. I’m willing to bet that the left has had a few of those kinds of stories as well, so I’ll call it a draw for today, and we’ll see who keeps doing it.

So here’s the good news: For all the bluster and “We Are The Mob” mentality out there in the world, even though I was braced for a lot of really nasty tweets, calls, whatever – I got almost none. I got a couple of tweets and even those were pretty mild. I got not one phone call. From that I take a bit of comfort in the fact that even the folks who re-tweeted and chorused and trumpeted the story are generally too busy or lazy to actually do much.

And now I get to go back to my real life.

Blogging for Change September 28, 2010

Posted by caradox in Uncategorized.
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Into the whirlwind I go.
Last week I said yes to a simple request and it is turning into a BFD (see Biden, Joseph Healthcare Reform 2010).

I’ll tell the full story down the road, after the Midterms, about a smart & passionate Progressive Democratic Congressman and his request for help in getting the word out about more of the House and Senate Candidates… but let’s just say, I jumped into the deep end.
A small group of bloggers and tweeps joined together to write and share news about District and State races where we knew – if we could just let people know more about the candidates, they’d have a chance to close the gap. And to respond to a huge conservative machine blanketing the online media with attacks, backed by big money, on true blue local progressives with smaller budgets.

I started as a helper bee, but I’ve now done a couple of diaries of the Daily Kos. With each one I write, I’m learning more and more about what I love about blogging politics.
So I’m just going to keep on going.

Which means that I’m going to have to think about how to fit this into my life, and about how to do it as well as I can.
I’m exercising my journalistic muscles in a way that I haven’t done in many years. And doing it on stories that make a difference in people’s lives. That alone is worth the hours of lost sleep I’ve had the past several days.

What that means for this blog is that I’ll primarily be doing more of the personal here (with a bit of cross-posting of what I write elsewhere) and I’ll be doing more focused blogging in other places. This is a learning process, so this site will follow my journey. There’s a right place for everything and everyone, isn’t there?

9 Years September 11, 2010

Posted by caradox in Life.
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As the clock turns past midnight, it is September 11, 2010 here in New York.

I’ve had enough of politics and media circuses this month. It will only get weirder, and uglier, and more frustrating as we get closer each day to the November 2010 midterm elections. A lot of the things we have worked for and hoped for seem to be in the balance.

For today, I’m putting that aside. I want to remember what is most important ~ those who lost their lives in the terror attacks, those who gave their lives and their health in the minutes and years since, working to save, recover, and protect Americans. The families of all those lost and wounded. And all of us who on that day learned what it was like to be hated for who we are and what we are – for simply being Americans.

My niece is coming to visit tomorrow. She is 18 months old and knows nothing of September 11th. Someday, she will. She is a Jersey girl, just like her aunt, and September 11th will become as much a part of her own life story as Dr King’s March on Washington or the Vietnam War are part of mine. She will grow up in a town where classmates and neighbors still miss their own. We’ll do our best to tell her the story well. With kindness and love, rather than fear and anger. Where we were. The phone calls we made to find each other. The visit to Saint Patrick’s while New York’s Bravest were still being honored at mass. Best of all, the day just over three weeks later when her mom and dad married in a place where flags filled every overpass and doorway.

Once the stories are done, she will have to live with the history of what kind of nation we became in the years after September 11, 2001. I hope we can tell her America found itself better, more kind to each other, more able and willing to help neighbors in need, brave enough to trust each other. And I hope she sees that we found good leaders who chose to connect us rather than divide us.

In the meantime, I will remember with a song and a poem. So that my mind stays ready to do its part and give her the gift of the most important stories, and my heart stays focused on the country we really are, deep down where the work of living is done.

“Land of the Living” by Lucy Kaplansky

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” by Martin Espada

She is young yet, we still have time.

A Governor Meets with an Archbishop About a Mosque… August 24, 2010

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Sounds like the start of a bar joke.  It isn’t. The Governor of New York State is meeting with a Catholic Archbishop to discuss the plans by a development group to build an Islamic community center (it’s NOT a mosque!) two blocks from Ground Zero (it’s not AT Ground Zero!)

A governor. Meets with an Archbishop. About a mosque. Where they will discuss:

– A private development project over which the Governor has ZERO control.

– For use by members of a religion that will NOT be represented at the meeting.

– In a state and country that have freedom of religious expression.

Are we done yet with this appalling behavior? Can anyone be left to bow before the controversy-manufacturing forces of Fox News and the morally bankrupt Republican Tea Party? Or will the Democrats of New York State find their conscience again and stand up for the values that make us New York?

The Last Patrol August 19, 2010

Posted by caradox in Life, Progressive Politics.
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Now this is the kind of news we’ve been waiting for…

At 6:30pm EST tonight came breaking news from MSNBC – the last US combat brigade in Iraq was making its way across the border into Kuwait, to officially end Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since my last post was just going out and focused on the utter absurdity of all things Sarah Palin, I can’t resist posting on something that is the precise opposite. This is the important stuff. Seven and a half years later, and President Obama has kept one of his most important promises, to end the US war in Iraq and turn that nation over to its people. (He even did it 2 weeks early)

To be sure, we are not walking away completely – 50,000 American troops will remain in advisory, training, and support capacity (and at risk). This is the big step we’ve been looking for, the operation termed, “The Last Patrol” to bring our combat troops out in what so far appears a safe and uneventful departure.

Congrats to MSNBC for scoring almost sole coverage of the exit as it happened. I know we are all a bit curious as to how they essentially had an exclusive (with Richard Engel in the convoy) while CNN and Fox were under, according to CNN’s Nick Valencia, the embargo until 2am Thursday morning. That should turn into an interesting backstory.

A huge THANK YOU and WELCOME HOME to all of those who have served in Iraq, regardless of how we got there and how we felt about it along the way. And continued love and prayers for those who remain on the ground helping the Iraqi people take ownership of their future. For this moment, let’s just all be glad for this good news tonite. We can go back to arguing tomorrow.

Update: Rachel Maddow provided story of how MSNBC came to be the only one breaking the story as the convoy crossed into Kuwait shortly into her segment. MSNBC is the only news org with the technological capability to broadcast from the remote border location. The mobile unit is called the “Bloom-Mobile” in honor of David Bloom who died tragically during the opening weeks of the war. David first used the technology.

Sufferin’ Suffrage Sarah! August 18, 2010

Posted by caradox in Progressive Politics.
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90 years ago today, American women got the right to vote. They fought for it from the moment America itself was conceived. In 1756 Lydia Taft became the first woman to cast a vote in Colonial America at the town council meetings of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. From that time, until 1920, the women of America (and the enlightened men who stood with them) fought in every town and state to break down the laws that kept us from voting. It was step by step,  a property requirement here, a marriage requirement there. It took women across generations to break each barrier. At first they worked individually. They found each other at the Seneca Falls Convention in July 1848 and launched a national coordinated effort. Think about that for a moment. 1848 to 1920 is the time it took to get the 19th Amendment. 72 years of marching and going to jail, making speeches, holding meetings, fighting for it.

Those who worked for suffrage changed America far beyond the voting booth. We celebrate today because it was not the end of the battle, but the beginning of the fight for every change that followed. Our right to property ownership. Our right to marry, divorce, and parent (or not) as we choose. Our right to education, work, and a private and public life as individuals. Every act and opportunity of our daily lives is the fruit of their work.

How did Sarah Palin mark the day? This woman who has lived her entire life with the benefits they fought for — her equal access to basketball court time, her right to throw her hat in the ring as Mayor of Wasilla, her right to own a home and a business, and her right to be the 2008 nominee for Vice President of the United States — how did she seize the moment to show her appreciation? With this:

Palin was reacting to the release yesterday of a video and website by Emily’s List directly challenging the former Governor and the candidates she has endorsed in state races. That’s politics. It’s Palin’s right to hit right back at Emily’s List and debate the issues. Emily’s List calls Palin and her chosen candidates “extremists” and specifies the positions on which they base that charge. We should expect, and welcome, Palin to respond with a rebuttal and defense of her political views. That’s how we do it here. You step up and debate the issues in the marketplace of ideas. Instead, she tweets.

Palin chose to snipe at “feminist” ideas and to use the language of those that fought against women’s rights every step of the way. On the day when we remember those who did the heavy lifting, Sarah Palin chose this.

Every person who fought for the right to vote, the right to fair pay, Title IX, equal access to education and the economic system was at one time or another disdained as a radical feminist and cackling witch. Is Sarah Palin lacking any knowledge of history?

Rather than calling upon the things that bring us together, this woman who wants to define our society and political future, chose to denigrate and demean. Is Sarah Palin so bankrupt of leadership instincts that she has not learned to express herself without cheap snark?

Who are the cackle of rads? Here’s a quick test:

– Do you believe women should have equal access to education, employment, business ownership, and professions?

– Do you believe women have earned a place of honor and valued service in the ranks of our military, law enforcement, and intelligence community?

– Do you believe women’s medical care and the research needed in breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, pre-natal care, HIV, and MS, among many others, should be a priority? Ever worn a pink ribbon or donated to a walk-a-thon?

– Do you believe domestic violence and sexual assualt are crimes that require safe havens for women and children, tough prosecution, and preventative education?

If you said yes to any single one of those questions, you too, my friend, are a member of the cackle of rads. Welcome to the club.

Have we had enough of this yet? This is a serious time that calls for serious leaders. Real lives are in the balance. We don’t have time for the Sarah Palin’s who wander the country making nasty quips and cashing checks. It’s time to back candidates and leaders who put the American people first, not their own petty personalities. Let’s give Palin a permanent pink slip.

#NN10 Diving in! July 23, 2010

Posted by caradox in Life, Progressive Politics.
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Hello from Las Vegas! Netroots Nation 2010 #NN10 is in full swing and I finally have a moment to pause and tell you how it’s going. 2000 extremely smart activists have a way of keeping you moving all day at top speed.
There were four sessions today covering a host of topics and training areas, from the Climate Change debate and how the Gulf Oil Spill has changed things, to the 2010 midterms and what is coming at us in the fall. I very much enjoyed meeting folks at the Democracy For America training series on Change through Persuasive Writing and the Blogging a Red State Blue panel.
Right now the Netroots are getting some drinks and snacks at the Opening Night reception and looking forward to the Opening Keynote address and event with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (you’ll remember him as the very folksy, very funny guy who made everyone say, “Who IS that?” at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.) We’ll also have MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, the always fun @LizzWinstead, Majora Cartner, of course @Markos, and others.
Time to get my seat!

NN10 Travel Notes July 21, 2010

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I love airports. Is that normal? I have no perspective on it. I’ve loved airports since that first Braniff flight in 1976 from Newark to DFW at 5.
I love the quintessential airport feeling of being both universally everywhere and somewhere very specific simultaneously. Boxes of live lobsters in Saint John, Political t-shirts at Dulles, a display of dresses made out of recyclables in Portland.

I’ve used precious few vacation days this year from work, due to an absurd (but successful) project schedule. I’m cashing in a few of them to travel to Las Vegas for Netroots Nation 2010. As I sit here between flights, I’m tapping into my favorite airport vibe of constant moving energy, watching a river of anonymous people units moving toward generic plane units. I’m letting my brain travel on ahead to Vegas on the current. What exactly am I hoping to get out of this NN10 experience?

1 – Meet the people I have been tweeting (complaining, cheering, scheming, laughing) with. Right now, I am much like a parent who hasn’t seen another grown-up in months. I don’t talk politics at work, and won’t talk politics with many of my local family and friends (for their sake and my own). So without my Tweeps, it’s the hubby and I having an endless roundtable on how Fox could do this, Ed Shultz could say that, and what’s going to happen at midterms. The progressive tweeps have taught me and inspired me, and kept me sane. I very much want to buy at least a few of them a real live drink.

2 – Shift into active mode. I earned my activist scars in a time before the internet and social media. Then I got a career and that became my focus for nearly a decade. It took the 2008 Presidential campaign, the Health Care debate, and spending more time than I ever expected talking to random people on Twitter, to wake up my activist heart. I’ve been tiptoeing my way deeper and deeper, learning how the people I admire do what they do. I’ve thought about where there is strength already, and where my efforts could add value rather than just noise. I’ve got a spark or two now, and it’s time to dig in and start doing more specific work that moves things forward.

3 – Learn from the best. The NN team and those that have attended previous Netroots events are some of the most effective at what they do: Organizing, Educating, Connecting, Digging up the facts, Communicating. I want to know exactly how they work so well, their systems, their tools, their inspirations to keep plugging away. Because I’m out here on my own most of the time, with an after hours access and only my own head as my editor-in-chief. I’m going to be taking a helluva lot of notes for the next few days!

So that’s it. My plan for #NN10. My flight is coming up in a few minutes, so it’s time to join the moving river of people and get going. Can’t wait to arrive!!

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