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)

Ohio House District 19 - Marian's running!!!

Hi!

My first live blog - and my first run for political office! Dave - your questions are terrific. I look forward to addressing the issues you raised at the start of the live blog. We've been under one party rule for more than 12 years and we are living the consequences of one party rule. Hopefully that will change come November.

Start posting your questions at 8 pm and I look forward to answering them.

Marian

Posted by MarianOhio on May 8, 2006 at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

E-mail List Management

Campaign season is well under way, and with several candidates coming right out of the DFA community—like Marian Harris running for Ohio State House and Anne Dicker going for a State House seat in Pennsylvania—it's important for our circle of progressive activists to have the necessary tools to win races.

One of the most critical developments in forming an effective campaign is managing your email list. Now email lists are a relatively recently-developed tool, so while your campaign staffers may be well-versed in precinct organizing and phone banking, managing an email list might be a daunting prospect.

Let's start with the basics. You've walked into the offices of your candidate, and whatever your official job title, your duties include managing the campaign email list. One of your co-workers runs up and says, "Welcome... so anyways, if we can get 5,000 local people to sign up on our list, we'll have a great online base for fundraising, events and activism!"

Sounds like a plan. How are you going to do it?

Building a List
There are many ways—which run the gamut from highly effective to crash-and-burn awful—for building your email list. A few of them are:

  • Your local party organization — Depending on your location and how organized your local party is, they may or may not have a list to share. Or, they may have a list with strict guidelines which prevent sharing. It's important to respect those guidelines (they're in place to protect user privacy!) and work with the party to ensure both you and they treat members with respect for their preferences. Sometimes, an organization which will not share a list, will in fact send an email on your behalf to the list—allowing their users to visit your website and join your list.
  • Website signups — Your campaign site should always feature an easy way for visitors to join your list. Getting newsletter updates is a low-hurdle to campaign participation. Through careful list management, you'll be able to tell which members are interesting in moving up the volunteer ladder, doing progressively more involved tasks for your campaign. People want to help, so give them an easy way to start!
  • Buying a list — Various Internet back-alley email dealers will sell you a million names for a buck. Should you chance it? Well, let's take a look at that list. It's probably one that a computer program assembled by crawling websites, looking for people who have unwittingly posted their email address on message boards and websites. Maybe it's a million randomly-generated email addresses, most of which don't exist. Perhaps you'll happen to buy your addresses on a day when the computer program was crawling through right-wing websites and you'll have a million angry people emailing you to, "Take me off your list!" There is rarely a good time to buy a list. It's better to have a smaller, yet more targeted list than a bloated billion crummy addresses.
  • Event signups — Whenever I walk into campaign events without a sign-in sheet, I wonder if the campaign ever knew I was there. Make the sign-in sheet prominent, include a spot for email addresses and make sure that you ask if you may email those who sign in. A simple checkbox with "may we email you updates?" will do. It's also a nice touch to email a thank you note to everyone who attended your event, no matter what their role. Someone gave up their time for you—thank them!

There are many more ways to grow your list in a smart manner... what can you think of?

If you have other questions about list building and management, fire away -- go strategic or tactical, granular or high-level, content or technology -- whatever you like.

What we're discussing tonight is an extremely abbreviated version of the Online Organizing training which is taught across the nation at the DFA Training Academy. If you would like a more in-depth treatment of this subject, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a two-day DFA training in your area—they are well worth it!

Posted by TaraLiloia on April 24, 2006 at 07:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Ohio House race

"Hi, I'm Marian Harris candidate for State Representative in Ohio's 19th House District. I'll be joining the MViMV blog on May 8th and looking forward to the discussion. I'm not a blogger and this will be a new experience for me! I'm also a new candidate - after 30 years "behind the scenes" working for other candidates, I've decided that no Republican should go unchallenged - so I'm challenging my representative! I look forward to both experiences!!"

Posted by MarianOhio on April 19, 2006 at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Is Your Right to Have Your Vote Counted at Risk?

My vote is my voice – but only if my vote is counted as it was cast.

Will electronic voting machines ensure that? Or will the lack of transparency, the potential for hacking, and the problems auditing the electronic vote raise more doubts than ever about the veracity of the results?

When you go to the polls to vote, are you more worried about how quickly your ballot is counted or about whether it's accurately counted?

Are you comfortable having voting systems outsourced to private firms?

Today in Washington, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform issued a report calling on Congress to require that all electronic voting machines have a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) -- and to use that paper trail to audit the election results. 

Here in California, we have a Secretary of State and dozens of county elections officials who oppose such an idea because they're concerned that it will slow down the vote tallying process.

I know nobody likes to wait for election results, but should we choose speed over accuracy and transparency?

My opinion is that accuracy should be the first directive. The very legitimacy of our government depends on the right to vote -- and the right to have your vote counted.

I've written a bill (SB 370) that would require California's elections officials to use the voter-verified paper audit trail to conduct the 1% manual count required by state law.   

Will the Governor sign this bill?  Or will he follow the Secretary of State's advice and veto it?

I want to hear what you think we should be doing to ensure the accuracy and the integrity of California's elections.  I'll be here from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. PDT) to answer your questions and chat about these and any other issues you may want to discuss. 

Debra Bowen, Chairwoman
California Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee

Posted by Senator_Bowen on September 19, 2005 at 07:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack

One American Family's Immigration Debate

This blog post requires an introduction.

This is a personal story in the making that I thought could be important to share with the MViMV electronic community as we work to resolve (or simply figure out) some of the more salient issues of the immigration debate. This blog is framed by a letter I received from my dad after I visited him in Texas for a couple of days this summer. I plan to see him again in a week or two, and I expect he will have digested the whole of this posting and commentary. As any writer, I have here the advantage of authorship. In all fairness to my dad’s side of the argument, I will post his reply (sure to come) as a thread to this discussion, and will encourage him to go on-line to participate directly.


My dad lives in Texas. He is against illegal immigration and opposed to giving social benefits to immigrants who don’t work, save for emergency care and a few shared services, such as police and access to basic utilities. He is from Columbus, Ohio. His father was a farmer, growing up on a farm just east of Columbus; and HIS father emigrated from Germany. As far as I know, they have all been Republicans. My dad’s mother was religious (Pentacostal), but my dad has not been particularly so. He described himself to me more than once as an agnostic.

My dad and I go way back. Despite my moving to California after grad school and distance separating us for the better part of 20 years, we’ve never lost touch. We’ve shared discussions regarding all the important topics and never shy away from politics.

I was the first in my family to register as a Democrat. When I turned 18 and registered to vote, I remember my grandfather not speaking to me for nearly two years. My Dad shared with my Mother, originally from Nicaragua, now deceased, a strong Republican ethic. They both respected the independence of my thinking and encouraged it.

The time I spent at my dad and stepmom’s home last month was pleasant and heartwarming – until we touched on the subject of immigration. Then all heck broke loose! Sitting in a restaurant for Sunday lunch, my Dad’s face turned a bright red as he launched on a thorough attack on “liberal immigrationism” as he had apparently labeled my position. What follows is a letter I received about a week later, to which I have been meaning to reply, and have decided to do so here in an effort to stir our own debate about the issues raised. Immigration has always been important in America, and we owe it to ourselves to consider as many points of view as possible in order to better understand the issue and set a public policy that respects the thoughts and sensibilities of a majority of Americans.

Here is my dad’s letter, in ALL CAPS, because that’s how he wrote it—a throwback to his days in the U.S. Army, I think, as opposed to “shouting” in the parlance of today’s electronic communications ethic. I look forward to everyone’s thoughts and comments, and thank you for indulging me in sharing this very personal debate.

IMMIGRATION AND OTHER CONCERNS:

WHEN UNEDUCATED AND/OR PERSONS WITH MEDICAL PROBLEMS COME LEGALLY OR ILLEGALLY INTO THE U.S., THIS REQUIRES A HIGH DEGREE OF MEDICAL AND EDUCATIONAL EXPENDITURES – AND ADDS TO OUR ENDEMIC PROBLEMS FOR OUR OWN CITIZENS. HENCE, OUR INCREASED TAX BASE.

Dear Dad,

You couldn’t be more right, the costs of healthcare in America are unconscionable. While the reasons for these onerous costs are outside the scope of the immigration issue, it is important to keep in mind that the immigrant’s use of these services is a small fraction of the total cost to taxpayers. A combination of factors and demands on both the medical and educational realms have indeed increased the demands for these services and have required recurring tax increases. I expect this will continue.


I WOULD FAR RATHER PROVIDE THOSE SERVICES IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY THROUGH FOREIGN AID, WHICH IN THE LONG RUN WOULD BE MUCH CHEAPER.


Foreign Aid is certainly a viable consideration, long term; however, the issue at hand is really how to work with the existing reality on the ground now. Demands on the health care system, such as from the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic sweeping the Mexican American community in LosAngeles that was covered in one of the clippings you included in your letter, are considerable. The cost of not addressing TB are even greater, because unchecked, the disease will only spread to children in schools, to elderly on public transit, in the supermarket, etc. We have a duty to take care of this important health care issue now, regardless of which ethnic group the need is concentrated in. We can discuss prevention, including limiting immigration, but the critical need is now. Your point that Mexicans are thus taking more out of the social welfare system jives with studies produced by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), economists at the Social Security Administration and the Urban Institute, which confirm that Hispanics, in general, receive a higher average rate of return on their Social Security contributions than the rest of the population. The reasons are many: on average, Hispanics have lower lifetime earnings, a higher incidence of disability, more children per family, and, by official measures, longer life expectancies than the population as a whole. Due to Social Security’s progressive benefit formula; its benefits for people with disabilities and for children of retired, disabled, or deceased workers; and its inflation-adjusted benefit that lasts as long as a retired or disabled beneficiary is alive, each of these population characteristics increases the Social Security benefits that Hispanic participants receive, relative to the amount of taxes they pay [June 28, 2005, study by Center for Budget and Policy Priorities]. I am not sure that we could simply eliminate all “welfare” type services domestically, even if we increased foreign aid by a hundred-fold.

Educationally, immigrants make up one in nine U.S. residents, one in seven US workers, and one in five low-wage workers. Immigrants are overrepresented among both low-wage and less educated U.S. workers. Since so many immigrants work and so many hold low-wage jobs, they could potentially benefit from post- as well as pre-employment services. Unfortunately, most publicly funded training programs assume that participants have 9th grade levels of literacy, and basic math and English skills. Without a coherent education policy for immigrants based on a complex range of their experiences, federal and state governments imperil the economic and social progress of millions of children. Current policies affecting immigrants are directed almost exclusively toward the narrow goal of teaching them English.


GRANTED THAT THE MAJORITY OF IMMIGRANTS PROVIDE WORKERS TO THE LOWER INCOME SCALE OPERATIONS, THE CURRENT LOWER INCOME CITIZEN POPULATION SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO GET OFF OF WELFARE AND PROVIDE THOSE LOWER INCOME SERVICES WHILE THEY OBTAIN SOME EDUCATION AND WORK SKILLS. SINCE THEY DO NOT PREFER TO WORK, SINCE SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER BENEFITS PAY THEM TO JUST SIT AROUND, IT IS TIME TO CUT BACK THOSE UNNECESSARY SERVICES. IF YOU CAN WORK – WORK – IF YOU CANNOT THEN WE HELP OUT WITH BENEFITS.


Here’s where I have a different experience. Although immigrants dominate a few low-wage occupations—farming and private household workers—immigrants in these occupations represent a small share of all low-wage foreign-born workers. My sense of the New Immigrant is that s/he is extremely hard working. Whether they be Russians or Guatemalans, they are striving toward the ageless American Dream and take on, by necessity for the most part, two and three jobs at a time. They are driven to achieve and perform in this society, frequently, with the added demand of sending money back home on a regular basis. I do not see much difference between the waves of Dutch, Italian or Polish immigrants who streamed through New York at the turn of and early in the 20th century and those who are doing so today.

The major difference that I see is that the New Immigrants (generally from Latin America, both legal and illegal) are bolstering Social Security with billions of dollars. As reported by Eduardo Porter in a New York Times front-page article, on April 5, 2005, “As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year. While it has been evident for years that illegal immigrants pay a variety of taxes, the extent of their contributions to Social Security is striking: the money added up to about 10 percent of last year's surplus—the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it doles out in pension benefits. Moreover, the money paid by illegal workers and their employers is factored into all the Social Security Administration's projections.”

Furthermore, according to the Urban Institute, recent employment gains by immigrants did not lead to declines among native-born Americans. Over the long term, immigration has modest negative effects on less-educated workers but other positive effects on the economy—and the plus side will grow much stronger after baby boomers retire.


NEITHER I NOR MY FAMILY HAVE EVER DRAWN WELFARE—WE ALWAYS FOUND WORK AT SOME DEGREE. YOU WORKED FOR MOST OF YOUR EDUCATION EXPENSES OUTSIDE OF TUITION, WHICH YOUR MOTHER AND I ALWAYS FOUND A WAY TO PAY. WHY SHOULD OTHERS, INCLUDING OUR CURRENT CITIZENS, GET A FREE RIDE OR BE SUBSIDIZED BY THOSE THAT DO MAKE THE EFFORT TO HELP THEMSELVES AND PAY TAXES ACCORDINGLY? WE DO NOT EVEN REQUIRE THAT THE IMMIGRANTS LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND MANY MILLIONS OF IMMIGRANTS REMAIN IN THE U.S. WITHOUT PROPER CREDENTIALS.


I heartily agree and share your work ethic, but from a Latino/Hispanic perspective, while it is impossible to know exactly how many illegal immigrant workers pay taxes, all of them do to some degree (sales taxes being the most obvious, but many own vehicles and other real property, etc.). The same NYT article noted that according to specialists, most of them do. “Since 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act set penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, most such workers have been forced to buy fake ID's to get a job. Currently available for about $150 on street corners in just about any immigrant neighborhood in California, a typical fake ID package includes a green card and a Social Security card. It provides cover for employers, who, if asked, can plausibly assert that they believe all their workers are legal. It also means that workers must be paid by the book - with payroll tax deductions.” Far from curbing illegal immigration, “IRCA, as the immigration act is known, did little to deter employers from hiring illegal immigrants or to discourage them from working. But for Social Security's finances, it was a great piece of legislation.” Using data from the Census Bureau's current population survey, Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, an advocacy group in Washington that favors more limits on immigration, estimated that 3.8 million households headed by illegal immigrants generated $6.4 billion in Social Security taxes in 2002.

No doubt most illegal immigrants would prefer to avoid Social Security altogether. As part of its efforts to properly assign the growing pile of unassigned wages, Social Security sends about 130,000 letters a year to employers with large numbers of mismatched pay statements. Though not an intended consequence of these so-called no-match letters, in many cases employers who get them dismiss the workers affected. Or the workers—fearing that immigration authorities might be on their trail—just leave.


SOMEPLACE ALONG THE LINE, I THINK YOU MISS THE POINT. OUR ORIGINAL IMMIGRANTS—IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WISH TO CALL THEM, BUILT THE COUNTRY WITH WORK AND RELIGIOUS ETHICS. I AM REMINDED THAT BETTY’S FATHER WAS AN ORIGINAL CITIZEN BORN IN THE U.S., SERVED IN THE MILITARY, FOUGHT IN THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR AND WAS INTERNED BY THE JAPANESE AFTER THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH WHICH HE SURVIVED. BETTY AND FAMILY FOUGHT IN THE WAR AGAINST THE JAPANESE WITH MANY MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY KILLED OR TORTURED TO DEATH. COMPARE THAT WIITH THE MEXICAN AND OTHER FOREIGN GANGS ROAMING THE STREETS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THEY ARE WREAKING HAVOC IN OUR CITIES. BETTY’S FAMILY WERE U.S. CITIZENS LIVING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, BUILDING FROM HIGH INCOME BUSINESS THERE AND DID NOT SHIRK FROM THEIR DUTIES OR PATRIOTISM. IN FACT THE FATHER TURNED OVER ALL OF HIS ASSETS AND BUSSES TO U.S. TROOPS TO HELP DEFEND THE PHILIPPINES. WE NEED TO SET HIGH STANDARDS FOR IMMIGRATION AND ENSURE THAT WE DO NOT INCLUDE SUCH AS THE SALVADORAN M-13 WHO FORM GANGS OF THUGS TO THREATEN AND INTIMIDATE THEIR OWN COUNTRYMEN WHO HAVE SETTLED LEGALLY.


Here, you bring up another good point. At the risk of appearing to have a bias against Italians, I can only conjure the intrigues of the Sicilian Mafia that remains, in this country, a powerful force in organized crime. Not sure if immigration is the issue here as much as it is law enforcement (and of course, education). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the gangs either and would not enjoy falling victim to their frolic.

As far as religious ethics are concerned, I think we need more of them. However, I would apply my own Christian (Catholic) upbringing to promoting policies that help the underprivileged, rather than simply strengthen the global financial elite. Ethics in business is a good thing to promote and I encourage you to do so.


WE HAVE MANY FRIENDS WHO ARE OFFICIAL IMMIGRANTS, INCLUDING MUSLIMS, THAT DO STUDY AND WORK HARD, THEIR CHILDREN ARE BEING EDUCATED IN OUR LOCAL SCHOOLS AND WE SUPPORT THAT. COMPARE THAT TO THE U.S. POLICY THAT ALLOWS OUTSIDERS/IMMIGRANTS WHO RECEIVE A TEMPORARY PASS AND THEN DISAPPEAR. YOUR MOTHER CARRIED A GREEN CARD AND MAINTAINED A GOOD CITIZENSHIP RELATIONSHIP FOR TWENTY YEARS. SHE DID NOT RECEIVE OR REQUEST SPECIAL TREATMENT. I CERTAINLY CANNOT COMPARE HER WITH THOSE WHO ILLEGALLY OR EVEN LEGALLY ENTER THE COUNTRY AND MAKE NO REAL EFFORT TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE OR PROVIDE FOR THEIR OWN AND DIRECT FAMILY WELFARE OR SUPPORT. HOW MANY TERRORISTS HAVE COME IN UNDER OUR CURRENT POLICIES?


The key issue here is security, I think. I favor strong compliance with existing immigration laws and a loosening of the immigration quota system that I think has artificially skewed the immigration picture and created bottlenecks where there should be open funnels. The main reason there are so many immigrants contributing to Social Security but who cannot collect it is that there are not enough opportunities to work in the U.S. legally.


WHAT IS MR. DEAN’S AND YOUR POLICY? DO WE LET EVERYBODY IN AND THEN WORRY ABOUT THEM LATER? THAT POLICY SPAWNED 9/11. NOW THE BRITTISH ARE LEARNING THE LESSON. INADEQUATE CONTROL OF IMMIGRATION ALLOWS THOSE WHO WISH TO CAUSE DISTRUPTION IN OUR COUNTRY TO HAVE A FREE REIN. OBVIOUSLY IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN BUT AT LEAST WE CAN LEARN TO MINIMIZE AND CONTROL TO SOME EXTENT THE DAMAGE. I DO NOT RECALL SERVING IN COMBAT SITUATIONS IN TWO WARS TO HELP OUT THOSE WHO ONLY EXPECT TO BE SUBSIDIZED OR WHO PARTICIPATE IN TERRORISM AND SUBVERSION.


While I disagree with your correlation to the British situation (except on an entirely different level having to do with British complicity in promoting our illegal war in Iraq), I agree with those who say that it is time to stop denying the reality that immigrant workers are vital to our economy, and to change our immigration laws to provide more opportunity for these workers to work legally. This position is consistent with views I have heard expressed by Gov. Dean.


YOU HAVE YOUR OWN OPINIONS AND HAVE EXPRESSED THEM. I HAPPEN TO HAVE APPARENTLY OPPOSITE PHILOSOPHIES TO SOME DEGREE. WE ALL HAVE RIGHTS TO OUR OWN OPINIONS. I SUPPORT EDUCATION FOR ALL WHO CAN CUT IT AND HAVE NO OBJECTIONS TO ANY TAXES ALONG THAT LINE. EDUCATION AND TRAINING IS THE KEY TO PROGRESS. I AM NORMALLY AGAINST WELFARE UNLESS CONTROLLED AND ACTUALLY DETERMINED TO BE ESSENTIAL.

—DEAR OLD DAD


Dad, thanks again for your willingness to engage in this discussion and to share it with others through the Internet. I look forward to continuing this discussion.


P.S. THE ENCLOSED STRIPS FROM LOCAL PAPERS AND OTHERS ILLUSTRATE OUR CONCERN ABOUT IMMIGRATION POLICIES:

• WWW.STAR-TELEGRAM.COM [NATIONAL] “Border Security: Some migrants given license to disappear” (ca. July 8, 2005)

• WWW.STAR-TELEGRAM.COM [NATIONAL] “Immigration: Births to foreign mothers rising” (July 8, 2005)

• TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, ca. July 4, 2005; “TB or Not TB” by Cal Thomas (www.calthomas.com)

Thanks, Dad, here are some links to the articles that I referenced above:

• National Immigration Forum Reports: Facts on Immigration, Bolstering Social Security (http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=724)

• New York Times (www.nytimes.com), April 5, 2005; “Illegal Immigrants Are Bolstering Social Security With Billions” [Front Page], by Eduardo Porter

• Immigration: Economic Progress; Urban Institute (www.urban.org); KEY FINDINGS: (Full text at: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=8628)

• New Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not? (Testimony), by Harry Holzer, Published: May 04, 2005 [HTML version]

• Other Immigration Characteristics and Trends at: (http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?Section=ByTopic&NavMenuID=62&TopicID=193&TopicName=Characteristics%20and%20Trends)

• “Evaluation of California's Immigrant Education Offers Vital Lessons for National Policy”; The Urban Institute (www.urban.org); September 21, 2004; [HTML version]

Posted by Ralph Miller on August 1, 2005 at 08:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Stone-Age Baptists that hate America

Last night I was at the bar and one of our Pro-life Republican friends I argue with all the time (but he is a good guy, former Marine) was talking about how this church in Kansas is celebrating Americans getting killed.  These same folks celebrated the Tsunami - as it was god killing Swedes - as well as gays getting killed, etc.

Here is where God talk creates a problem for many of us.  If a minister says "God said this...", then his flock often believes just that - as the minister speaks to god, right?  Don't even question this - as you should never question "god", right?  OK, so these folks in Kansas have gained traction with their Gay hating literature, and the Republican Party has catered to such extremists, while taking the "Born Rich" tax-cut Monarchists under their wing, and adding the War Mongering defense lobbyists.  It has worked so far, but now normal Republicans are seeing how this hard push to the Right has allowed these fringe groups to take control.  They are starting to see that hate begets hate.  That there is no end to where these people will stop - they are now attacking other Christians (they have attacked other religions for a long time), attacking our troops, innocent victims of disaster, celebrated Matthew Sheperd's murder, and are now working to devour their young.

But wait - you think you are safe in your home town from these Bible-Thumping Stone-Age Baptists?  Think again,  They are multiplying, finding common cause with other hate-mongering folks throughout the country.  The same ideas that brought us the Salem Witch Trials, World War 2, the conflict in Yugoslavia, Rwanda...and many other things that have brought darness upon our planet - are now festering in this country again - thanks to the latest hard push to the right.  History has shown that hard religious fundamentalism breeds ignorance, hatred, disease, war and false prosecution among other things.  America does not need a push back to the Dark ages of intolerence, but rather to proceed cautiously into the future with respect for one another - and an appreciation for the happiness of other that live in our towns, counties, states, country and world.  Cooperation, trust, hope, trust, (but verify) love and tolerance - these are the things I love about our world - not the hate monger, exclusion, unilateralism, fear and intolerance that seem to be so dominant in the world today.  We need to place ourself on that track - and create a more civil society - the type that norishes Democracy and openess, not quashes it under secrecy and suppression.

Keep your eyes open...as the mainstream Republicans should soon start flocking away from the extremists, as these folks will keep pushing to the Right, until they have a fascist, Christian country that has no tolerance of anyone else - though that will never happen, as the mainstream Republicans are starting to figure out there are some serious issues with the current folks in power - and that they do not like what they are seeing.  These are not just poll figures...these are things I see from talking with good Republicans - the folks that really do care about the country, but have been miss-lead to believe those now in power - have been led astray by their fear and hate-mongering ways...

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 23, 2005 at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

DemocracyFest 2005 - Day 1

Greetings from Austin We are all gathered here for Democracyfest 2005. Over 900 people bought tickets to DF2005 - with over 2000 people buying tickets to the speaking engagement at Stubbs. Over 500 people are here from out of state. Many activists are here - including folks from DFA, Latinos for America, Grassroots for America, and a number of politicians and candidtes. It IS hot her - and is not a "dry" heat - maybe a wet dry, but not a dry, dry. ;-) At any rate, the sessions I have been in so far have been useful - especially the blogging section. There are many familiar faces. Tonight we gathered at Threadgills for some entertainment an beer. Fran from DFT (the hosting organization this year) - spoke for a bit, I had a chance to welcome everyone on behalf of MViMV - then Tom Hughes went on stage. After that, a long wait for fried pickels, chicken fried steak, good burgers, wings, banana pudding and cherry cobbler - an lots of talking. A good night - and I am looking forward to tomorrow. Until then...goodnight.

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 18, 2005 at 01:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Keep your Religion off my Healthcare

Imagine, you are woman living in a small town and decide to go to the local Pharmacy to pick up your Birth control pills. This pharmacy happens to be the only one for 100 miles or so from your house. You give the prescription to the Pharmacist – and he tells you “Sorry, I won’t fill this, it’s against my religious beliefs”. You argue with him, but he tells you he is within his rights to deny you your pills, as his religion is against birth control pills.

Another instance, your son is a gay man and breaks his leg. He goes to the local emergency room, but the doctor on duty refuses to treat him. You son protests, but the doctor tells him Homosexuality is against his morals - so he feels it is within his rights to not treat a gay man.

Farfetched? Impossible? Not in America? Think again. Michigan is in the process of passing just such legislation.

It will allow Pharmacists and other health care providers the right to refuse care in “non life threatening” instances – if it is against their morals or religious beliefs. This legislation is currently awaiting approval in the Republican controlled Senate, and has been introduced in a number of other states. We must do whatever we can to oppose this legislation, or we will be legalizing medical discrimination on anyone that does not conform to the “norms” of the caregiver. These articles of legislation work to strip rights from large segments of society, such as gay and lesbians – as well as women – and will allow caregivers to discriminate against anyone they want. All they need to do is come up with a moral objection to whoever that person is…

Remember to never close your eyes, as the Right Wing Religious Zealots in this country are always waiting, always watching. They understand that every position they can fill, every piece of legislation they can pass, and every politician they can elect will place them one step closer to having control over all of those that would oppose their religious and moral beliefs – and bring their religion into every aspect of our lives.

This is just one example of why we must all fight to win every victory, whether it is a Town Clerk position, a State Legislator, a City Councilor, or the leader of a trade group. Every little win, every progressive person that wins or earns a position or office – or joins a Democratic Committee – brings us one step closer to taking over the Democratic Party – and removing the radical Right Wing from power in this country. This is a long, hard fight – but we need to fight it – AND we need to win. If we do not, our futures – and the futures of our children – will be determined more by religion and wealth – than on their own merits – or by their right to pursue happiness…

The actual bill can be found at:

http://www.michiganlegislature.org/documents/2003-2004/billengrossed/house/htm/2003-HEBH-5006.htm

Posted by Jessica Falker on May 8, 2004 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)