Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fight Condescension With Empowerment

Politico is reporting on fallout from the leaked RNC presentation that ridiculed donors and encouraged everything American's have come to hate about politics.
Mark DeMoss, who heads a major Christian public relations firm in Atlanta and served as a liaison to the Evangelical community for Mitt Romney in 2008, wrote Chairman Michael Steele yesterday that he was "ashamed" of the presentation, calling depictions of Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid "shameful, immature and uncivil, at best."
The timing of this just happened to coincide with something I have been meaning to write about for a week now: the Maryland Democratic Party's efforts to empower their supporters. At a time when Republican contempt for voters could not be more clear, the MD Dems just happen to be demonstrating the exact opposite.

It started at the beginning of March, when I received a forwarded email from my dear friend, Yvette Lewis:
We are looking to expand the circle to whom we send talking points on important issues, so please feel free to send these talking points to your activists, members, and elected officials. Thanks.
I wrote back to her, immediately:
I'm impressed: "feel free to send these talking points to your activists, members, and elected officials."

Wait what? Some transparency? Putting some power in the hands of activists and members? Who are these people and what have they done with our establishment Democratic party?
It was literally the next day that the RNC presentation was leaked.

And just yesterday, I received another email from Yvette, again with talking points and a note that we should "Feel free to distribute far and wide." (In case folks are curious, here is the most recent talking points <----pdf link)

The MD Dems could not have timed this more perfectly. I was excited enough at the seeming change of policy (most campaigns tend to keep talking points just for staff which always bothered me since your supporters will talk for you whether you give them the proper ammo or not). It may seem innocuous at a glance, but the act of sharing talking points with "activists and members," "far and wide," in contrast to the condescension coming out of the other camp, is far from innocuous indeed.

Health Care and Abortion

I really hate having to come back to this over and over again. Let's get our abortion-and-health-care basics down folks. The Senate bill does nothing to change the standard we have lived by that no federal funding shall be used for abortion.

First off, read the language of the bill. You can check out Huffington Post's brief summary, but seriously, read the abortion language in the bill.

Are we clear? It says, very specifically that there is to be no funding for abortion under the exact same standards we have lived by for decades. The Health and Human Services Secretary can audit the plan to ensure that no federal funding goes to abortion under the exact same standards we have lived by for decades.

If that is true, you ask, why on earth would anti-choice folks lie and spread the falsehood that the bill funds abortion? Because it allows them to push to for provisions that would place radically new restrictions on the right to purchase coverage for abortion with private money. Anti-choice folks have demonstrated, over and over again, their willingness to employ any means to stop abortions. Imagining them having trouble lying, is like imagining a bank robber having a problem with trespassing.

So what should you do when you confront someone who believes the lie? Ask them to prove it. Ask them what in the Senate bill funds abortion. We asked that of the President of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman just before the March for Life in January:

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

Keep in mind, that is Operation Rescue's President. He is one of the folks leading the anti-choice tantrum against health care. He is not just any old anti-choicer. He is the one telling the everyday anti-choicer that the Senate bill funds abortion, so if anyone should be able to explain how, it's him.

But the everyday anti-choicers can think for themselves, right? I mean, these folks will take the time to check the language themselves before taking Troy Newman's word for it, right?

Sure (this next video is from the day after we spoke with Troy Newman):
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

As I said, the anti-choice base of the conservative movement has no problem lying to get results. It would be nice if folks in the main stream media would ask these folks to explain how the Senate bill funds abortion. This is not an opinion that the bill does not fund abortion, it is a fact. Our main stream media, so focused on being "fair and balanced," treats this as just another side of the argument, that deserves equal respect. It is not and does not.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ACORN Calls For Retractions

ACORN, the community organization that became the target of conservative hit-man James O'Keefe, is calling on retractions from major news outlets that ran with the story unchallenged.
By now everybody knows that James O'Keefe, the anti-ACORN video stinger, is willing to lie, manipulate, and apparently break the law, in pursuit of his extremist agenda.
They cite quotes from the Brooklyn prosecutors, the first folks outside of the O'Keefe network to view unedited footage, claiming that "They edited the tape to meet their agenda." They go on to chastise the New York times for continuing to report patently false aspects of O'Keefe's account:
As Media Matters columnist Eric Bohlert writes, "the '70s-era, blacksploitation pimp costume was a propaganda tool used to later deceive the public about the undercover operation."[3] If you watched the videos you probably thought he wore that suit inside our offices. He didn't. He dressed as a professional and presented himself as a boyfriend trying to help his girlfriend escape from an abusive pimp, something also noted in former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger's December 2009 investigation of ACORN.[4]

So why, then, does America's newspaper of record, the New York Times, insist in report after report -- as recently as March 1st -- that he presented himself as a pimp in our offices?
And all the while, Hannah Giles is looking for funders to help her fight a multi-million dollar lawsuit aimed at her because of involvement in the stunt.

Green Thoughts: Your Home Ventilation Strategies and ERV Installation [VIDEO]

So for that last few Green Thoughts posts, we've been discussing the importance of sealing down your building shell to ensure that you are keeping and breathing your clean conditioned air inside your home and blocking the dirty, unconditioned air from entering. But that is only the first step and there are other issues that can arise from sealing up all those gaps. Closing your building shell, though vitally important, can actually create other problems in your home that will need fixing. Sealing up all the leaks in your home is great for preventing your the inside conditioned air from mixing with the dirty outside air, but it can prevent air from properly cycling through the home.

You want the air in your home to change several times a day, otherwise you are stuck living in the same stale air all day. When you're in a leaky home, this is going to happen easily, since air is leaking in and out of the house all day. But in a closed down home, the building shell can actually become 'too tight' and prevent the air from cycling enough times everyday. In this video, Jason from Edge Energy discusses ways to ensure that this does not happen to your home. There are several different things you can do, but in this video, Jason will especially mention an ERV, also known as an Energy (or Enthalpy) Recovery Ventilator. An ERV changes the air in your home at a constant level while transferring the heat and energy of the exiting air to the incoming air. This way you can maintain a constant flow of air without overworking and overusing your HVAC system.

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Uninsured Medically and in the Faith of our Government

Just watch this video of Tammy Rostov, the owner of Rostov's Coffee and Tea, speaking about the impact of health care on her small business:

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

A Funny Or Die Economy

You gotta hand it to the folk at Funny or Die for this one. It isn't easy making the economy funny right now.

Frist and Bunning Join Call for Up or Down Vote

Who would have thunk it? Republicans are calling on colleagues to give us an up or down vote. We will start with former majority leader, Senator Bill Frist...
These filibusters... injure the administration of justice and our nation's political culture... As Senate majority leader... I sought to address Democrats' grievances while holding true to the core principle of an up-or-down vote. So far, my colleagues have rejected all efforts at compromise, and continue to insist on a new, 60-vote standard.
And Senator "I Object" Bunning:
[Health care reform has been] held up by a filibuster and cannot get a fair up-or-down vote. This unfair tactic is breaking years of Senate tradition...When a filibuster is instituted it takes a three-fifths vote to put a stop to it. The Framers of the Constitution were pretty clear when they required more than a majority to act. For example, they required a two-thirds vote to amend the Constitution. They required a two-thirds vote to convict and remove from office an impeached President or Federal official... The Framers also required a two-thirds vote to approve a treaty. Now, if the Framers meant that a super-majority vote was required [to pass health care reform] then they would have clearly stated so.
Oh wait, those are quotes from 2005, when Republicans were in power and trying to put more conservative, activist judges on the Supreme Court. Ooops. My bad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cruel and Inhuman

The AP is reporting that a community in Pheonix is asking their Church to stop feeding the homeless. I shit you not.

Residents say the homeless create blight and pose a danger to them, pointing to the case of a homeless felon caught with child pornography in the neighborhood. A complaint prompted city officials to order the year-old breakfast halted, saying it violated zoning laws.


"We're glad in the city that they're trying to help out," says Patrick Ravenstein, the city's area manager for neighborhood preservation. "However, the type of help they're giving can only be conducted in a certain zoning district."


Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the Nashville-based First Amendment Center, said such spats have become quite common across the country since Congress passed the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in 2000.

The law gives religious groups a high level of protection in zoning cases and forces cities to show there's a compelling reason, such as public safety, to restrict them.

So years of providing food for the homeless and one person's disgusting actions will be used as "proof" that there is a legitimate public safety concern having poor people bussed into the community.

There is another question raised here, and that is the right to assemble. While receiving food from the church, homeless folks also get a plate-full of sermons. I would imagine the Church has a very legitimate argument that it directly restricts their right to assemble and practice religion.

The Breitbartocalypse Is Coming!!!

UPDATE: We are currently planning our efforts to cover the Breitbartocalypse as the destruction happens, equipped with in-the-field reporters and our very own Senior Breitbartocalypseologist. Check back at 10:45pm EST on Monday, March 15th, just 15 minutes before it is expected to hit, for our first round of coverage.

If you do not know what I am talking about, take a gander at this, then take a minute to pick yourself up off the floor after a good laugh:

You have to hand to the folks of conservativeland. We progressives have hope, the conservative movement has pipe dreams.

Training Tuesday: Free and Low Cost Online Tools

Oh yeah, we are talking grassroots communications. There has been an explosion recently in the availability of free and low cost tools to do almost anything online.

Our panelists today are Jason Lefkowitz, Shireen Mitchell, and Ben Kallos. They will cover everything from simple blog platforms to domain and hosting services. If your group/campaign/company has not explored the free tools available to them, do it now. Some will work for you, and some will not. But the internet is one of the only places where you do not get what you pay for. You can spend tons of money online for the most useless technology in the world while spending nothing for some of the most innovative and creative technology.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Economic Empowerment à la Michelle Singletary

On Saturday, we were excited to join Yvette Lewis and Grow the Hope at the Millenium Bible Fellowship Church for an event on economic empowerment. Last time we joined them, it was quite a powerful event, so we came with high expectations. As usual, Yvette did not disappoint. We will have plenty of coverage of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the various workshops to help folks with resume writing and basic financial counseling. Today though, we are just releasing our interview with Michelle Singletary and her speech.

Part 1 of 6
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Part 2 of 6
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Part 3 of 6
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Part 4 of 6
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Part 5 of 6
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Part 6 of 6
<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Mrs. Singletary gave an impassioned speech about individual fiscal responsibility, stuffed with plenty of comedy and personal stories. And there was plenty of tough love to go around. In this economy, it is more important than ever to hear the truth about money, regardless of how hard it may be to hear.

We got a chance to chat with her for a few minutes after the event and got a little advice for folks that are thinking about trying the Financial Fast she details in her book, The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom. We send a big thanks to Mrs. Singletary for sparing some time for us:

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

(I'll be getting a copy of her book and trying out the financial fast, I'll share with you all some of results of that along the way)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

#livetweetingabortion Makes ABC News

No commentary here, you can read my past post for that. Only real new info is that Angie had to report threats to the FBI.

Without further ado, here is ABC's report on the story:

You Cannot Argue With Numbers

I do love math sometimes, although I worked real hard to pass BC Calc in high school so that I would specifically be able to avoid taking any math classes in college. You just cannot argue with numbers, as hard as Karl Rove may try.

Well, today my good friend, Jeremy Koulish of The Carrots And Sticks Project, emailed me the charts below, put out by the House Budget Committee. They detail the economic progress that has been made under the leadership of President Obama. Consider OFA's recovery chart just a preview, here is the full story of our economy:

House Budget Committee Charts

My Qualms With The Coffee Party

(I have some great progressive friends that are part of the Coffee Party, and I have huge respect for a lot of the folks leading the efforts, they are brilliant and inspiring people, so I hope none of them take offense to this editorial.)

I get it. It is clever. And I completely agree with the message that the Coffee Party is putting out:
We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans.
If you follow them, you will also hear a lot about civility in public discourse, clearly a response to the childish antics of teabaggers that we witnessed last summer during the health care town halls.

I am totally in agreement with them on this, so what are my qualms with the Coffee Party? It is indicative of what I have always liked least about the progressive movement: we are far too often responding, always reacting and never acting.

There is no shred of doubt in anyone's mind that the Coffee Party is a response to the Tea Party. It shouts it in the name. "Hey look at me! I'm not like that radical group of whackos that seem to get wall-to-wall coverage!" And it shouts it again when you look at the description. "I swear, I'm like, totally, nothing like those freakin' teabaggers! Really!"

When Republicans controlled Congress and the White House it made some sense to be responding. They led the agenda and the best we could hope for was to fight it. Yet with full control we are still stuck there far too much. We propose health care reform yet spend the first several months of the debate responding to accusations of death panels and rationing.

I have grown tired of responding. And while I cannot make claims that I will stop any time soon, I certainly will not be joining any Responders Anonymous. I will not join a group that would never exist were it not for the teabaggers. I will not dignify their nuttiness. We have more potential to act and not react than we have had prior to this in my lifetime, so I apologize to my progressive friends if I find little excitement in the Coffee Party. I do, however, find excitement in the thought of civil discourse and using collective will to shape a government that works for the people. Yet I see little hope of that happening when we cannot stop giving these radicals attention, let alone naming groups after them.

This is not treating the teabaggers for what they are, a rather frustrated group representing a very tiny segment of the nation. They absolutely do not deserve the coverage they get. And part of that is our responsibility. We should not be treating them with respect. And frankly, when you make a group that is so blatantly and solely a response to the teabaggers, you elevate them.

We should be treating the teabaggers as what they are, the whacko base of the Republican party and nothing more. These are the racists, radical anti-Democrats, and conspiracy nuts of the right and nothing more. These are the same folks who protested the counting of ballots in Florida and nothing more:

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These are the same folks we have been stuck responding to for far too long. And while we will surely be obligated to respond for the rest of time, can we not work to shift the balance our way a little? Can we not use what little influence we have to give more attention to our ideas and less to theirs?