Friday, February 26, 2010

Better Off Under Slavery

That is the claim from Congressman Trent Franks, that African Americans are worse off today than they were during slavery. Hat-tip to the great work of our friend Mike Stark at Stark Reports for this one:

(Beginning around 6:10)

I am sure Rep. Franks will receive a few less-than-bubbly phone calls and emails about this one!

Saddly, I was far from surprised to hear this. I have spent a good amount of time volunteering as a clinic escort as part of a documentary we are working on, Best When Boring, and this is far from the craziest stuff I have heard from the rabidly anti-choice. When we have a new escort who happens to be of color, you can guarantee that he or she will hear about this on the first day or two. It is one piece in a growing pattern amongst the anti-choice activists, and the greater conservative movement in general, to use any argument that might further their point regardless of facts, reality, or logic.

Live Tweeting Abortion

If you spend a decent amount of time on twitter, as I do, then you have likely heard of #livetweetingabortion. The story begins with Angie the Anti-Theist. When birth control failed Angie, she was faced with a decision that many women come to face but few share in such glaring detail. For several days, Angie shared some of the most personal details of her medication-abortion.

Aside from my general interest in the reproductive justice movement, I also became fascinated by the strategic political characteristics of Angie's actions. One of the major hurdles that has hampered the power of pro-choice activists has been the secrecy and privacy surrounding reproductive health care. It is understandable. As a man, my reproductive health care has always been incredibly personal and private, so it is hard for me to call on women to share their story.

Yet as a former community organizer, I know there is no more powerful tool than that of storytelling. Storytelling creates a sense of empathy. Storytelling helped President Barack Obama demonstrate that as unique as his story was, it was uniquely American and something that all of us, regardless of race, age, or social status could relate to. Storytelling made it possible for progressive activists to build a formidable army able to stand up in the face of enormous money and resources from insurance company lobbyists.

The question is, will #livetweetingabortion catch on? If so, will it have the same effect on the reproductive justice movement as it has had on a variety of other issues? If so, it was a remarkably genius use of online technology and new media to foster a greater sense of community.

For more on #livetweetingabortion check out The Abortioneers story on it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Senator Donald McEachin at Virginia Organizing Project Rally

Last week we caught up with the good folks at the Virginia Organizing Project in Richmond for a rally against potential state budget cuts to the health care system and in favor of reform on the national level. One of the folks who joined us was Senator Donald McEachin, representing Virginia's 9th District:

<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

We've got more coverage from this rally coming very shortly!

We Are Apparently "Abusive"

That is the word from Facebook. Well, that is what they are telling folks behind our back.

I got home last night to find an old friend, someone who got me my first community organizing job, had tried unsuccessfully to post our video of Chris Hayes speaking at our fundraiser this past Sunday. Facebook prevented him from posting the video to his wall and informed him that:
"Some content in this message has been reported as abusive by Facebook users."
What on earth could be abusive about this video? I mean, it was a fairly innocuous speech about health care reform, grassroots video, and us. Who could take offense to that?

We have reached out to Facebook on this, which is near impossible to do, with no response. They left my friend no further information or links to click to challenge the reports of abusive content. They never informed us, the sole owners of the copyrighted material in question. There appears to be no process for determining that one's material has been banned. There appears to be no process for challenging this ban. The only phone number or email address we could find was to set up a press interview, and that number went straight to answering machine.

So who knows what will happen with our video? Likely they will remove the ban sometime over the next few weeks, but if this were a campaign video, weeks could likely be the difference between facebook users having the ability to post a video before election day. Facebook encourages businesses and organizations to focus online organizing efforts their way, some notice when you are informing our audience that we are "abusive" would be appreciated.

"...people who are ALLEGEDLY wronged by our health care system..."

Harken back to 2008 and the debates between then Senator, now President Barack Obama and then Senator, still Senator John McCain.

Remember this moment:

If you will remember, women voters across the country reacted quite badly to that one. I believe "Condescending" is the nicest word you could use to describe it.

Well, Congressman Eric Cantor just landed himself one of those moments, and thanks to indiemcemopants over at Daily Kos it will not go unnoticed:
If anything proves that they're not coming to this summit in good faith, it's what Eric Cantor (R-Oblivious) just said. He claims that we can all "read letters by constituents who are allegedly wronged by our health care system."
Allegedly, Congressman? Our health care system leaves people uninsured and dying every day of every week of every month of every year. That is a fact. The stories of folks dying because they do not have basic coverage, or because their insurance company denies them treatment and flips them off on the way out (literally) are not "allegations." These are facts.

And these are facts that the Republicans have demonstrated over and over again that they have no intention of addressing. Therefore, there are only two things I take out of this summit: 1) The President is pretty good at handling tough questioning and 2) The only viable path forward if you desire any real reform of our current health care system is to pass it without Republican help.

Radical Right and White Supremacists Line Up Behind Terrorism

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in monitoring the most dangerous of the radical right in this country, has put out a report detailing the support that terrorist Joseph Stack is receiving amongst radicals on the right, and white supremacists specifically.

“The Guy is a true HERO!!!”


“This was quite heroic. There is a gradual awakening underway. I wonder how racially conscious he was.”


“This is just the beginning. Prepare for battle!”


“This man won’t be the last to do something like this.”


“Only bad I see about this is that he didn’t kill enough.”

Let us be clear about what this is. This is radicals supporting suicide bombings on American buildings. This is Americans cheering for, and calling for more of, the violent murder of innocent American civilians. This is the "American Taliban" you keep hearing about over at Daily Kos.

Which, of course, is entirely different from this kind of "sympathy":

(from Think Progress)
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

(from Talking Points Memo)
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

And that is Republican's justifying, or making lighthearted jokes, about the violent, suicide-bombing murder of innocent American civilians.

Frankly, the conservative base of the Republican party would not have to answer for all the sympathizers of this degenerate terrorists were it not for their own sympathy for this degenerate terrorist.

Green Thursday: Your Basement Band Joists

As we have discussed in our earlier Green Thoughts posts, sealing you home's building shell and air ducts is vitally important for making sure that you and your family living and breathing in clean & conditioned air and not wasting in your good air and energy dollars to inefficiency or leaks. We have worked from the top down, first demonstrating ways to seal your attic and then showing how to seal the duct system throughout your house. Now, we are going to focus on correcting a major trouble spot for leaky basements- the band joists (also called rim joists).

In basements where the interior walls are the foundation walls (or are right up against them), Edge Energy, our Green Energy Experts, often finds major air leaks along the band joist, which is located at the basement ceiling. The band joist is the joist that surrounds all the rest of the joists in the floor above the basement. The floor sits on top of the foundation wall and, because the band joist is on the outside, this joist is the part of the floor that comes in direct contact with the foundation wall itself.

This seam along the band joist above the foundation wall is often left unsealed by builders and thus allows air to stream into your home. There is no really simple way to fix this and since the gap is usually a long seam and not just a small hole, retrofitters (like Edge) have to cut holes in the ceiling along this seam to sprayfoam and seal the gaps. They then close up all the holes, re-paint the ceiling and leave your basement looking just like it did before they started, but with a lot less of a draft.

--Band Joist Sealing

<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

To see more Green Thoughts on Thursday posts, please go to

Full Disclosure: EDGE Energy hired us, as Sum of Change not individuals, to produce several videos for them including the ones in this post. We have not been hired to distribute, recommend, or advertise for EDGE Energy, rather we are using these videos to explain a vital service and we appreciate them letting us do so.

To learn more about the energy audit from Edge and see more of our videos, please go to and see Edge's youtube page

Livefeed: Health Care Summit

Thanks to the good folks at MSNBC, we bring you live coverage of the health care reform summit.:

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"C-Span! Dot Mother *^$%&#* Org!"

Tomorrow morning is the long-awaited, smack-down extravaganza that we have come to know as the health care summit. When I came across this video, I just could not resist sharing it with you folks:
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Too good right? Health care! Health care! Health care! Join us on twitter during the showdown tomorrow morning for some good conversation.

Planned Parenthood Under Attack In VA

Thanks to the good folks at BlueCommonwealth for bringing this to our attention.

Anti-choice organizations are working to get Planned Parenthood defunded, entirely, and calling on the radically anti-choice Governor for help. That means no money for HIV prevention (how very "pro-life" of them!). That means no money for birth control (which is abortion to anti-choice activists). That means no money for adoption counseling and basic family planning. Yet that would do nothing about abortion, because there is already no money for abortion in the State of VA and all across the country.

Planned Parenthood has stood for years as a stronghold of reproductive justice. A place where anyone, regardless of economic or social status can receive help needed surrounding a number of reproductive issues.

This attempt to defund Planned Parenthood is 1) Cruel and 2) Baseless. This directly hurts the poorest amongst us. Planned Parenthood has never and is not using funds from the state of Virginia for abortion. There is no logic you can find to argue otherwise. This is oddly similar to the frantic, yet uninformed, anti-choice outrage
over national health care reform. The religious right faction of the conservative movement has demonstrated time and time again that it has no problem taking any means necessary to prevent abortion and make the lives of abortion providers, patients, and activists more difficult.

Specter/Sestak Senatorial Forum

At the PA Progressive Summit, we got the chance to catch a Senatorial forum with Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak. This election is sure to be one of the most watched, and both campaigns have quite a long road ahead of them. They were asked the same questions, so we threw their answers back-to-back for you folks:

Question 1- What Do You Think of a Partial Spending Freeze?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 2- What Would You Do To Increase Manufacturing Jobs in the US?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 3- What is Your Opinion of Same-Sex Marriage?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 4- Will You Vote For The Employee Free Choice Act With Card Check?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 5- What Are you Going to do About the Trade Deficit?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 6- Do You Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Question 7- What Should We Do About the Filibuster?
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

For more videos from the PA Progressive Summit, visit

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Training Tuesday: Prioritizing Your Campaign and The Importance of Time

For this Training Tuesday, which was filmed at a Democracy for America Campaign Academy training session, we'd like to help you focus your campaign on what is most important. As our trainer, Kendra-Sue Derby, mentions, when you have limited resources you have to know how and where to focus them. Now to many, resources equals money, but in actuality, money is never your scarcest resource- it might not be easy, but there is always more money to be raised. In reality, the most important resource to focus up on is that of time. Time machines don't exist- the most time you will ever have on your campaign is on Day 1- so it is important to plan accordingly.

In these videos, Kendra-Sue first discusses the Three Campaigns Assets- Money People and Time and how you should juggle them. Next she goes into more detail about why your campaign should be Prioritized Based on Time. Finally, she encourages you to Use a Voter File, the item that will most help you organize your campaign to fight against the clock.

--Three Campaign Assets: Money, People, and Time

--Prioritize Based on Time

--Use a Voter File

For more Training Tuesday posts from Sum of Change, please visit

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chris Hayes' Speech At Sum of Change/Grow the Hope House Meeting

Yesterday, we were humbled when folks from the DC/MD/VA area packed into the living room of David Hart, founder of Grow the Hope, for a fundraiser to help us cover the annual Netroots Nation conference. We could not have been more thrilled with the level of energy in the room.

Our featured speaker, Chris Hayes, the DC Editor of The Nation, gave a rather fantastic speech about health care, Netroots Nation, and the importance of grassroots online video that we wanted to share with you all right away:

To contribute to our efforts to cover Netroots Nation please click here.

The video we showed folks right before Chris' speech was from last year's Netroots Nation panel @FDR Is There A New New Deal? And Chris is absolutely right that the video was only 1/5 of the story. You can find Nicholas Beaudrot's flowchart over at Donkeylicious.

Pataki Misleads On Life Expectancy Gap

Former Governor George Pataki was on MSNBC today railing against health care reform. He mentioned that in Great Britain the life expectancy of the poorest folks is a decade less than the life expectancy of the richest folks. The first thing I noticed, he never mentioned the US stat. And David Shuster let him go, without asking him if he even knows what the US stat is.

Well, we looked into it. First off, he was wrong about the Great Britain fact. The gap is not a decade, it is seven years. He was only three years off, but that happens to be a margin of error of 30%.

So let us look at the US figures. In the last few decades, the life expectancy gap between the rich and poor has skyrocketed from 1.2 years in the early 70's to 5.8 years in 2001.

What pissed me off more than anything else about Gov Pataki's interview is that David Shuster just let him get up their and spout his views without any real push back. Is it too much to ask that he give a tough question? When someone claims a stat about Great Britain is an argument against health care reform, is it too much to ask that he or she also know the US figure?

Update: Unvanguard commented over at Democratic Underground:
The article the author points to in the British case reads: "The review says health inequalilties have not narrowed over the past decade, with the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest neighbourhoods standing at seven years." But the US graph refers to the difference between people in the top half of the income distribution and people in the bottom half. These numbers are not comparable. The comparable US figure is almost certainly higher than 5.8.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Livefeed: Chris Hayes, Sum of Change, and Grow the Hope

Today at 2:00pm we are holding our first house party fundraiser for our efforts to cover Netroots Nation 2010. We have lined up a great set of speakers, opening with Chris Hayes, DC Editor of The Nation. We'll also hear from Nolan Treadway, the Logistics and Political Director of Netroots Nation, Julie Blust, the Communications Director at the Virginia Organizing Project, Jeremy Koulish, the Executive Director of the Carrots and Sticks Project, Yvette Lewis from Grow the Hope's Rapid Response Team, and our host, David Hart, the founder of Grow the Hope.

You can join us at the house party online today! We will be running a live camera feed of the event, so please hang around with us!

(Here is the rerun of Chris Hayes' speech, we'll have more of the house meeting up shortly)

I hope you enjoy the house party and all the great speakers. Then please contribute to help us in our efforts. Here's a list of what your contribution buys for us:
$5 = box of pens
$10 = Round of water bottles for the crew
$25 = roll of gaffers tape
$50 = lunch for a day for everyone
$100 = Gas card
$250 = Tapes for the trip
$500 = camera rental
$1000 = Hotel fees
$3000- $5000 = Sponsor Program

That should help you to visualize your contribution, give you something concrete to say to you are doing to help us get this work done. Please give what you can.

As many of you already know, Netroots Nation is a conference of progressives bloggers and online activists. One weekend every year, some of the greatest minds from the netroots gather to discuss the most important issues of the day. Last year, we covered Netroots Nation and came out with some 75 videos, mostly from panels. This year, we are going to expand our coverage immensely. To find out more, simply join us today for this house party.