What's A Citizen To Do?

Bob asked me to join your blog tonight to talk about "What's A Citizen To Do? - a statewide activist e-newsletter that I produce every week. It goes out to 900 people around Vermont. I would be happy to talk about that, but I'm also interested in knowing what folks are thinking about or doing to address the current world situation and the crisis within our own democracy - as well as discussing up-coming actions in Vermont and region.
The last few weeks have been quite busy for the peace and justice community. This week PeaceVermont organized a vigil in solidarity with the civilians of Palestine, Lebanon and Israel at which we collected signatures to ask Bernie to co-sponsor Dennis Kucinich's resolution for a cease fire [Bernie voted as did most members of congress to support the Israeli government's aggression (war) on Palestine and Lebanon - which is funded by the United States].
I spent the entire weekend in meetings. Saturday was devoted to a coalition of groups focused on shutting down Vermont Yankee [I'm a member of the Vt Yankee Decommissioning Alliance], while on Sunday morning activists from around the Northeast met in Brattleboro to discuss actions focused on impeachment and ending the war in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, and the likely wars on Iran and Syria [Cindy Sheehan was supposed to meet with us but at the last minute she and other members of CodePink were invited to meet with members of the Iraqi parliament].
Last weekend I briefly attended the Activist Skill Share in Wheelock, VT, where many people were discussing the need for direct action [non-violent civil disobedience]. So, this discussion tonight could take any direction - I'll let you take the lead.
But first I should introduce myself. My name is Debra Stoleroff. I live in Plainfield, Vermont. I'm an activist/organier of peace, justice and environmental events and actions. When I'm not volunteering in these activities, I work as the coordinator of a Twinfield High School program through which students can design studies on anything they want, work with a mentor [or not] and get credit for the study. Studies can be academic, an internship, a journey, job, or college course. The Renaissance program is one way a small rural school can address the varied needs and learning styles of all students. My interests don't end there though, but I think those will suffice for tonight.
Oh, I suppose I should mention that I'm an independent. I don't want to be affiliated with a political party, though I have worked on issues regarding elections [fraud, instant run-off voting and multiple party elections].
I'm looking forward to our discussion
*Posted by Bob Winkler

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 31, 2006 at 10:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Political Blogs

Recent studies have shown blogging activities tend to cluster around high profile entities and then spin off into smaller and more familiar local or regional e-communities. The questions is - how might this particular blog best contribute to a robust and significant political dialogue which brings about measurable change to the national political scene?

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 24, 2006 at 08:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Darrell's Famous Blogger's Breakfast

Hi, I'm Charlene (MViMV) and catamount (BFA).  The place is filling up.  Sorry that I'm delayed Bob. Thank you for being here.  We're running ragged but having a wonderful time.

This is my first Blogger's Breakfast despite having been at the past two events.  I always attended to get to the Blogger's Breakfast before, but there was always an organizational item or a fire to put out that kept me from it. 

Jessica Falker (jjem), Cofounder of DemocracyFest, welcomed us, explained the unfortunate news that Darrell could not be with us, but his intent was for her to provide the story of how DemocracyFest got started.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 16, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Your Economic Security in an Era of Climate Change

*** At DemocracyFest This Saturday***

BEYOND KYOTO: Responding Together to Climate Change

How can we respond together to the possibility of future disasters like Hurricane Katrina that are partially due to the results of rapid climate change?   The panel will address the topic from perspectives of the environmental movement, community development, and insurance.  Panelists will also lead a discussion on the roles of government, business, and bottom-up community activism in managing new environmental risks, which may threaten the economic security of communities around the nation.

     *      John Garamendi, California State Insurance Commissioner
     *      Lori Saldaña, California State Assemblywoman (76th Assembly District, San Diego)
     *      Quintus Jett, Principal Investigator of the Gentilly Project in New Orleans, also moderating


Hi, I figured I'd start with the panel on climate change on DemocracyFest.   My being on the panel as a lot to do with my research project that focuses on Post-Katrina recovery in the neighborhoods of Gentilly, a community about a 10-15 minute drive from downtown and the French Quarter that doesn't get mentioned all that much.

Everything I've seen in New Orleans has me thinking a lot about the economic security of families following disasters.   If what's going on (or not going on) in New Orleans is an example of what we'll see after the next widescale disaster, we're in a lot of trouble.  Somehow it escapes most of the public dialogue all the thousands of working- and middle-class people that are suffering economically post-Katrina.  It's not just the poverty of those before Katrina, but also the people at risk of being pushed into poverty afterwards.

Then there's rapid global climate change.  Didn't think too deeply about this until after Katrina, and learning more about global warming, higher sea levels, and warmer water in the Gulf of Mexico that cause stronger hurricanes.  Next time there's major flooding and/or devastation due to a hurricane, how many hundreds of thousand of people could be displaced next time?   How many tens of thousands of homes will be destroyed?  And what can government, business, citizens do to prepare and later respond if such a thing happens?

Posted by Quintus Jett on July 10, 2006 at 08:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Will We See You at DemocracyFest?

If you're coming to DemocracyFest next weekend, please stop by the MViMV table and say hello to fellow members in our MViMV Community.  Also, if you volunteer to help us cover the table for an hour, we'll give you an organic cotton t-shirt with the fabulous MViMV logo.

If you don't have your tickets yet, please go to www.democracyfest.us  This is always an event not to be missed!  Great speeches, entertainment, discussions and networking opportunities.  I guarantee you'll leave far richer than you arrived. Each year I have met people that I now call friends.  Afterall, one can never have enough Progressive friends to bring more balance to our lives.

Don't forget to get your ticket for Darrell's Famous Blogger's Breakfast.  Yup, Darrell is back at DemFest and Jessica Falker and myself will be blogging from the breakfast, so whether you can attend or not join us here at 8 AM PDT (11 AM EDT).   

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 8, 2006 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Why “The Big Buy?” Big Money is our Biggest Obstacle

Howdy from Texas, where of course, everything is bigger, especially our political scandals.

Mark and I are pleased to be able to converse with whoever out there is interested in talking about our film “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress” and/or “Clean Money Day,” tomorrow, June 27th.

By pure coincidence, this week is seeing a couple of climaxes to The Big Buy story.

First, and maybe even by the time you read this blog entry, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on whether the mid-decade congressional reapportionment forced through the Texas Legislature by DeLay will be rubber stamped or changed in any way. Supposedly, this challenge to what everyone calls “the DeLay Map” was picked out by pivotal Justice Kennedy as a test case to rein-in the most blatant gerrymandering abuses of the last decade. It will be interesting to see if even a Bush court can stomach Delay’s computer-precision violations of the Voting Rights Act – violations cited by a Bush Administration Justice Department staff, and then suppressed by John Ashcroft.

A Supreme Court victory for DeLay would mean ultimate vindication for his ambitious scheme, a bold power grab to reshape Congress in his image. He could confidently face years of prison time, (and no doubt profitable martyrdom), if that was the price he had to pay for encoding his master plan into the law of the land.

On the other hand, a rebuke to go back and redraw DeLay’s Texas congressional lines, either on a wholesale level - less likely - or a couple of the most egregiously manufactured districts - more likely - would be like rubbing salt in Delay’s self-imposed wounds. He’s be facing mounting legal bills and the possibility of doing time with a chunk, or all of his plan, negated by the most conservative court in decades.

The court is scheduled to rule on the case before this session ends at the beginning of July. The wires are starting to hum with anticipation for an important legal precedent either way.

Which brings us to the other climatic event of the week – Clean Money Day on Tuesday, June 27th – tomorrow. A nationwide coalition of groups is using The Big Buy as a centerpiece for discussions about the need for public financing of our elections through house parties. This is made possible by our distributor, Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films outfit, and details about C$D and local screenings can be found at bravenewtheaters.org or cleanmoneyday.org.

Tom Delay was able to use a relatively small amount of corporate cash - $4-6 million total – to overwhelm the Texas Legislature and ensure that his redistricting scheme would succeed. For that investment, the corporate contributors got five Tom DeLay clones in Congress who could be relied upon to oppose every sort of regulation not approved by Delay and his client list. In turn, those five votes were the margin of difference in approving a subsidized-filled Energy Bill, a generous Central American Free Trade Agreement and recent Budget resolutions cutting food and housing assistance programs. And this is just one example of kind of spoils that corporate money has won.

No matter what your cause or political philosophy, the largest variable to your success is how much your agenda corresponds to those of a small pool of CEOs with enough dough to buy candidates who become elected officials. Likewise, of course, if you have a different idea than Exxon-Mobil of how to transition to greener energy, or a disagreement with Pfizer over how best to provide low-cost prescription drugs, then your biggest obstacle is the influence that ready money has on the legislative process.

We all know this intellectually, but always put off doing anything about it because we’re already stretched too thin. But I’m telling you as someone who has spent the last three years tracking just a small part of the problem, unless citizens do something fundamental and everlasting to the way we fund elections in this country soon, our other work to change the world will never have a chance.

OK – your turn. Anyone want to talk?

Posted by schermbeck on June 26, 2006 at 03:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

Moral Obligation

In 2002 a conference of the Northeast Campuses for Climate Action, cosponsored by Skidmore College and Clean Air-Cool Planet convened in Saratoga, New York. CA-CP is a leading organization dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to global warming. It forms partnerships with campuses, communities, and companies to develop strategies to help reduce overall carbon emissions.
Since the early 1990s the earth has seen the hottest recorded temperatures in the past hundred years. This overall increase of 2-3 degrees F has resulted in melted icebergs the size of Rhode Island, brought severe rain to many areas of the world, and prolonged drought to others - with resulting social and political unrest. Economically it has cost billions of dollars. Since this conference there has been a growing awareness of how mankind's activities have added significantly to global greenhouse gas levels. The message became clear that academia had a moral and ethical obligation to become leaders in developing strategies and solutions as suggested by CA-CP.
How might university communities best promote those progressive candidates who will carry this message to Washington come November? Entered by Bob Winkler 6-19-06

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 19, 2006 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lois Herr for Congress in PA

Hi everyone! My name is Lois Herr, and I'm the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 16th District.
In my view, policymaking in Washington has become severely disconnected from our sense of right and wrong. Instead of caring for the least fortunate among us, we push the poor off Medicaid rolls and give tax breaks to those who don't need them. Instead of investing in clean, renewable sources of energy and keeping the environment safe for our children, we pass out massive giveaways to oil companies. And instead of considering issues of war and peace with the utmost humility and deliberation, we swagger into conflict unprepared and indifferent to the aftermath. We can do better, and we must - we're all in this together.
I look forward to our conversation, everyone! In the meantime, please check out my website - www.loisherr.us - to learn more about the campaign.


Posted by Jessica Falker on June 12, 2006 at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Armed Madhouse Now Available

America (especially Progressives) owes a great big thank you to Greg Palast for his recent repeat. Once again, he's dug deep and found truths that you won't hear through the typical media channels. 

The newest book by our revered investigative reporter and past MViMV guest blogger, Greg Palast, was released today (June 6).  As always, Greg pairs his investigative prowess with his quick wit and the result is Armed Madhouse.  Armed Madhouse reveals the hidden stories of the Bush administration.

You may have blogged with Greg here when we helped promote his documentary, Bush Family Fortunes; or maybe you read his last book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  Although not one major newspaper reviewed The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, it became a bestseller.  We made that happen!

Let's set the mark again.  Get out there and get your copy of Greg’s new book, Armed Madhouse.  You need to know the truths Greg has uncovered, the truths the current administration wants to hide from you, such as:

  • The fix of the 2004 election (as we knew "Kerry Won")
  • The Bush Administration's plans for Iraq's oil (Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf")
  • The destruction of New Orleans (who drowned New Orleans?)
  • Ken Lay’s unindicted co-conspirators

Arm yourself with the truth; buy Armed Madhouse and spread the word wide and far.  For more info, see www.GregPalast.com.

Best, Charlene

p.s. Don't forget to join us at DemocracyFest: www.democracyfest.us

To see if Greg is touring near you, go to:    http://www.gregpalast.com/madhouse/index.php/tour/tour-dates/

Continue reading "Armed Madhouse Now Available"

Posted by Charlene Johnston on June 6, 2006 at 09:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)


A recent article entitled "Central Casting" written by Jeffrey Goldberg in the May 29th issue of The New Yorker makes the claim that if the Democrats truly want to win back those Republican seats come November then they better know "how" to talk to hog farmers.

Likewise, in the article "Red Politics & Blue in Wyoming" in the June issue of The Sun, David Romtvedt maintains that gathered together under one venue - Wyoming citizens listen respectfully to each other even if they detest your message. In the East we closet ourselves with like personalities which allows us to isolate ourselves, which in turn forces us to live intellectually and emotionally impoverished lives.

Is there a message here for the upcoming campaign and November elections?

Post by Bob Winkler - June 5th

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 5, 2006 at 07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)