Friday, January 29, 2010

Dirty Tricks, Political Hacks, And Journalism

Chris Hayes was on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, and he gave the best analysis of the O'Keefe scandal that I have seen. He is one of the few people making the connection between this scandal and typical Republican/conservative campaign strategy. Whether through the use of dirty tricks or personal assassination, the current conservative base will employ any tactic in the interest of winning.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

PS: Chris Hayes will be our featured speaker on February 21st.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Toasters For Congress: A Video Contest

Did you know that about 10 years ago, Ira Shorr of the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) sent a toaster to every member of congress to warm them about the danger of having nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alerts- "In the time that it takes to make toast, we could all be toast". Mr Shorr has been PSR's National Field Director for the last 25 years but is retiring this year. To celebrate his decades of activism for peace, our good friend David Hart (also the director of Grow the Hope) is holding a video contest for people to take their own stand on essential issues of our time, such as nuclear weapons and climate change. You can get all the info about the contest by going to

We helped Ira and David by making some introductory videos for the contest, some of which are embedded below. The first videos is the story behind why he sent a toaster to every member of congress and the second discusses some of Ira's other work. Besides for the Toasters effort, Ira has embarked on several campaigns for global peace and justice, such as the SMART Security campaign, which was designed as an alternative to a military-first foreign policy agenda. You can learn all about these efforts in the second video.

I hope that you go to, watch the rest of the videos up there, and submit your own video for the contest. It's a great chance to creatively express your views and hopefully change the world. I look forward to seeing what you have to offer.

To find out more information about the contest and to submit your video, go to

Below is the official invitation for the contest from PSR:

Dear Friends,

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is launching a video contest. I urge you to participate and to spread the word by sending this message to everyone in your networks.

All over people are asking the question:

Why would anyone send a toaster to every member of Congress?

Watch the video introduction to the contest at:

Let’s connect with each other through the amazing tools of online social networking.

Will you help by:

1) Telling your best stories of a creative organizing idea that attracted new people to our movement.


2) Suggesting new fun, engaging, effective ideas that will advance our vital agenda.

We are especially interested in those ideas that would help our current campaigns on nuclear weapons – the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), Nonproliferation Treaty review conference and related initiatives. You can find out more about all this on our website:

And, because we are an organization with a big bold vision for what the world needs, we welcome your ideas on global warming, toxic threats to the environment, and safe energy.

We hope the best videos will be viewed widely and will spark a new sense of fun and possibility for our vital movement.

The winners of our contest will receive prizes including a grand prize of an iPod Nano which shoots video. What’s more, the winners will be able to celebrate the reality that their ideas are helping to shape a new wave of effective activism.

Please submit your videos ASAP so others can be inspired by your ideas. To be considered for the contest, we will need to get your submission no later than, March 1, 2010.

How to submit videos and official rules can be found at:

Why would anyone send a toaster to every member of Congress?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Please help us spread the word about this project, submit your own video, and invite others to participate.

Training Tuesday: The Numbers You Need To Win Your Election - Part 1

This week's Training Tuesday post revolves around a repeated mantra from Kendra-Sue Derby, this week's trainer- It's All About The Numbers. Before you start worrying about anything else in your campaign, you have to know how many votes you need to win. This seems relatively self-evident, but it is a number that often goes overlooked. You first must set YOUR WIN NUMBER, the number of voters you will need to win. But how do you set this number and which past elections do you use as research? To be able to make sure this number as accurate as possible, you must be able to GET THE CURRENT NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS. The number of registered voters will change drastically from the beginning of your campaign to the end and you have to be on top of that number or risk losing all of those new voters. Your win number isn't only number you need and it is important to know that YOUR VOTE GOAL IS NOT YOUR WIN NUMBER. You win number is the minimum number of votes you need, but you have to determine how many votes you need to solidify a victory. Finally, you much POST YOUR NUMBERS so that those working in your support know the goal. If the candidate and the campaign manager are the only ones who know those numbers, then your campaign will probably struggle.





This slew of videos are from Democracy For America's Campaign Academy. These particular session was filmed in at Gettysburg college in Gettysburg, PA. To find out more about Democracy For America's Campaign Academy, go to

To see more training videos, go to

Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Monday: Dub FX

Recently, I took the drive up north to vist an old friend. He and I always had similar tastes in mucis, so much of my collection was first introduced to me by him. On this most recent trip, he introduced me to a street performer, originally from Australia, named Dub FX.

Dub FX has a very unique sound, using an FX pedal and his voice to build songs. After listening to his album for quite a while, I reached out to the singer for an interview. Today, I am happy to share with you our interview with Dub FX and some of his music. Enjoy!

Q: For readers who are first hearing your songs today, can you give us a brief description of the unique way in which you create your music?

A: I beat box and layer harmonies of my voice in a sampler live on the spot to create sound scapes to then sing and rap over. I also use fx to manipulate the sound of my voice to sound like a synth to make some really phat bass lines. I do my best to emulate all types of music this way but because of my taste in music I usually sway towards, trip hop, dubstep, jungle with a jazzy ragga influence.

Q: How did it come about that you started performing with a Roland pedal?

A: I started off with a boss gt6 fx processor for my guitar but because I'm crap at guitar I started experimenting with a microphone going into it... I sung in bands where iI would use this pedal to alter the possibilites of what my voice can sound like... after a while I saw this guy making trippy music just with a mic and a loop station (AKAI headrush pedal) so I though that if I could use this loopstation with my fx pedal I could do some cool shit... I bought the headrush pedal and took it straight to the streets of manchester where I happened to be at that time and started playing around, eventually boss brought out the gt8 fx processor and the rc50 loopstation so i saved up and got that. Last year boss brought out the gt10 and naturally i upgraded to that... the awsome thing is that with each step the pedals got better and better!

Q: You've said before that you have no intention or desire to join a record label, and you clearly enjoy being a street performer, can you share with us why that is?

A: I spent most of my early years trying to get a record deal because I thought that it was the only way... I was trying to make music that I thought the record labels would want and we got rejected over and over again, when I started street performing, it was only a means to make enough money to travel... now I've realized that when I make music I like and don't try and water it down or make it commercial I get the best reaction from the public, and seeing as I dont have to split my money with any label I can live off it with no problems! I'm not signing to any label because I don't need to, it's got nothing to do with making a stance or statement, I have figured out first hand that in today's society with youtube, the internet, facebook, myspace, etc their is no need for a label... and even if the internet didn't exist I could still live off what I make in the street, so long as it isn't raining!

Q: In a previous interview, you said, "In Australia, if you want to live off music, you have to make commercial sounding music." Do you ever have moments where you think that might be wrong? Are you ever tempted to go back to Australia to play music there?

A: I'm in australia right now actually..
What i meant by that was that australia has a tiny population that is scattered over a massive continent. The only way to make a decent living all year round is to either constatly tour and even then their is not enough people to live comfortably, or you get signed to a label and if you do that you have to be either a copy of something that is going on over in the USA or Europe that is doing well, or make mundane pop that old people and 5 year olds buy...
As soon as i left OZ i realized that the UK is the complete opposite. In england they only sign you if you're original and nothing like what the other pop artists are doing... In fact you need to have edge and be at least a little bit offensive, Lilly Allen is a good example of that.

Q: While we're on the topic of commercial sounding music, we in the U.S. have a heavily commercialized music industry and while there is a strong underground presence it is greatly overpowered by the commercial forces alive in the system. Do you have any advice for underground artists who are struggling to get attention and may be running out of inspiration?

A: I have never been to the USA but I'm aware of the commercial music that comes out of there... unfortunately the commercial crap and I do mean crap is the only stuff that comes to OZ and the American underground stuff gets completly lost before it makes it to Australia, and again its because a bunch of buisness men who only care about money are the ones who decide what gets there... fortunately I do my research and I am aware of some of the groundbreaking stuff that the underground yanks are doing and its wikid!
From my own experience the only way to make a living and to stay inspired in this over commercialised world is to switch the tv and radio off! To do what truly satisfies you and to get it out there on the street! That is where the true general public are. Dubstep was created by a bunch of london guys who started up their own night to play what they felt was the best thing they could come up with. They weren't in it for the money or glory, just for the music and the good vibes... and look what happened... only when something is pure and from the heart does it actually touch people.

Q: Can you tell us about Flower Fairy and how you two met?

A: The first time I ever went out busking as Dub FX in Manchester (before that i had been using a guitar) I met the flower fairy's sister who had heard me mention that I was looking for a place to stay. She told me that when she had been to Australia people helped her out so she was happy to return the favour. I was there for a few months and that's how I met the fairy. We started dating and one day I asked her to come busking with me... and the rest is history.

Q: You write a lot about love, would you say that is the most important influence in your writing?

A: Not really. I write what comes to me in that moment. I think that if I'm out in the street singing to the public everyday, what's the best thing to sing about? Positive activity, collective consciousness... I dont have many love songs, I generally think that spreading conscious thought rather then bigging up materialism or gun culture is the only way to go. People get bombarded with marketing everyday which makes them feel inadequate and self conscious... I try to connect everyones consciousness and bring everybody together... in my oppinion that is what should be marketed.

Q: What's next for Dub FX?

A: New albums, live dvd and more touring.

Q: Any chance you'll be making your way to the U.S. in the near future?

A: I was hoping to do it this year, but it might end up being the end of this year to 2011... I don't want to come over a for a few shows an then leave... when I come out I will be there for at least 5-6 months...

Q: Lastly, what songs are you most proud to have written?

A: I haven't written those songs yet.


You can purchase Dub FX music here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

March for Life: Health Care and Abortion

We could not resist visiting with the crowd at the March for Life on the anniversary of Roe v Wade this past Friday. Throughout this debate on health care, anti-choice organizations have worked tirelessly to drum up fear that the proposed reforms will fund abortion. Any pro-choice activist will tell you that they knew years ago that this bill would never fund abortion with tax dollars. That is not happening.

But in convincing folks that the bill does indeed fund abortion, anti-choice groups have managed to build a large base of support around the Stupak amendment, which would prevent women who receive subsidies from the government for health care from purchasing abortion coverage with private funds. This would clearly be a step back from the compromise that this country has lived by of legal access to abortion and a strict mandate against federal funds.

What we are left with, is a large community of people who have repeatedly been told the health care bill funds abortion, but since it does not, they have absolutely no idea how to explain what in the bill would do that. We figured asking them to explain it would give us some great footage.

On Thursday, the day before the March, we got to test that theory out on Operation Rescue's President, Troy Newman at a press conference outside the White House:

Just so you all know, the health care bills, both the Senate version and the House's, are available online.