Tuesday, May 23, 2006

First of our Monthly Meetings at Kerry's Office

On Thursday May 18 the group from the MA Roots Project had its first "official" meeting with the director of Sen. Kerry's Boston office. We met him on April 22 when a group of five of us went to Fanuill Hall in Boston to hear the Senator give a speech on the 35th anniversary of his testimony against the Vietnam war. We were expecting a town hall kind of meeting and it turned out to be a speech (though an excellent one). We stuck around afterward wanting to make a connection with someone from his office. We lucked out and had a brief and cordial chat with Jon Jennings who was very interested in finding out more about what we are doing and how we can work together. He offered to meet with us monthly. He was familiar with the blogs and had seen FDL.

Though we had wanted to talk with him specifically about the shredding of the Constitution by this administration and the threat to invade Iran, the meeting turned out somewhat differently. Our group consisted of Prof. Foland, Scarecrow, rcman, KathrynMA, TonyK and me. Prof. Foland wrote up the summary and we shared it with Jon before posting it here. Our next meeting with him will be after YKos (to which at least two of us are going)

Summary of the Discussion

Several members of the MA Roots Project traveled to Senator Kerry's
office to speak with the director of the Boston office. The
conversation was conducted as "off the record" (a point Roots groups
will have to deal with) in order to increase the possible level of
candor. We will report on what we said, on its general reception,
and some lessons we took away. Obviously, nothing from the
conversation can be construed as an official position of Senator Kerry.

This was the first in a monthly series of meetings, so we spent most
of the time feeling each other out, and understanding how we can come
to usefully work together. We delivered a few major points, and a
diverse array of secondary points. First, we introduced ourselves
and the Roots Project; there was considerable interest in how the
Project came about and how it is and is not organized. We made clear
our concern that there was a lack of leadership from the Democratic
party. We made clear that with a broad consensus having formed
throughout the country about the failures of this Administration, we
found it difficult to understand why we were having such a difficult
time hearing clear statements of defense of our rights against the
Administration. We asked for some direction in how we might
effectively shape both the Senator's public positions, and their
reception. We also realized that this was more about the leadership
of the party as a whole than just what Sen. Kerry can/cannot, should/
should not do or say.

We came out of the meeting with a sense of a few things looking
forward. First, there was a lot of discussion of how “Kansas
farmers” can be brought on board, and how that could be a major
changing point for the political discussion. (A purely observational
note: these Kansas farmers came up an awful lot for a discussion with
a Senator from Massachusetts, however Jon ran for congress in Indiana
and was on the ground learning lessons).

Second, there was a lot of discussion about how large numbers of
people demonstrating in the streets could bring about substantial
shifts in the political discussion. We all understood that the
protests of the Vietnam war in the streets included the dynamic of
the reality of the draft which we do not have in today’s war.

Towards the first of these, we came out with an understanding
that small-town newspapers might make a good venue, not only with
LTE's, but also articles (as many such newspapers are always looking
to fill column inches.) Pieces written by our roots folks need to be
more like conversations with neighbors than shrill tirades. We are
trying to bring over the fence-sitters with reason and common sense.

We also had some useful discussion concerning the local Air
America station and whether there might be a useful role for the
Roots Project with their local programming, such as it is. There was
also discussion of how hard the right side pushes, consistently
sending hundreds of faxes on issues even to Senators (like Kerry)
with whom they know they will never agree. This sets the bar pretty
high for us in our actions. But when Senators and Reps can say in
staff meetings, committee meetings, and on TV that their mail and
faxes are running 2-1 in favor of reining in the Administration on
some issue, they will find it much easier to do so.

There was a lot of discussion of the relative roles of leaders, such
as Kerry, and "the American people". We certainly need to do
everything within our power to make sure the peoples' end of that is
upheld. There is an obvious tension between we, the people wanting
someone to get in front and lead a movement, and the legislators
feeling the need to have the grass roots push them into action.

We came away with a positive feeling having spent an hour and a half
with a high level staffer who knows about and reads some of the blogs
(including FDL now) and wishes to work with us to figure out how we
can work together to bring about a progressive change in our government.

Kathryn added:

I came away with the impression that its not what we can urge the senators to do, it is more what we can do to encourage the "groundswell of the people's demands.' It seems Congress is waiting for this 'groundswell' before undertaking any action. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us - the Roots - to become even more active, reach out to 'ordinary people' who do not read blogs, and start a discussion in the town General Store, over the fence, at the service station. I was taken aback at this viewpoint because a bunch of leaderless people in the streets is anarchy. I was demanding a leader stand up, but the leaders want us to stand up. I think, therefore, its up to us. A leader will emerge.

Monday, May 22, 2006

National Day of Out(r)age - May 24th


SaveAccess.org, a national coalition of community media organizations and individuals, is coordinating a nationwide day of protests with actions taking place in New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco on Wednesday, May 24th.

FAIR is helping to organize the New York City protest.
Join us. Make your voice heard. 

Wednesday, May 24th
at the Verizon World Headquarters
140 West Street (at Vesey Street).
12:30-1:30pm (Pre-assemble at 12:15pm)
A/C/E/2/3 trains to Chambers St.
(Times and locations of other nationwide actions listed below)

We are protesting:
1) Telco-driven congressional legislation (HR 5252 and S.2686) that endangers public access centers and channels, threatens to red-line communities, and undermines an open internet by not protecting net neutrality.

We need to stop these bills in their current form -- we need more protections.

2) Telco collusion with the NSA to illegally violate the privacy of tens of millions of Americans.

We need to demand an investigation and enforcement of the law.

3) The Telco campaign to buyoff statehouse and congressional representatives around the country to push their legislation through.

We need real campaign finance reform and political transparency.
4) The Telco policy of using “astroturf” groups to push their deceptions on the public.

We need to expose these campaigns for what they are -- corporate propaganda.
5) The mergers and takeovers within in the Telco industry that have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

We need to stop the AT&T - BellSouth merger until there is accountability and thorough anti-trust reviews.
Other Day Of Out(r)age actions across the country include:

Rally: 1:30 – 2:00 pm  In front of the Massachusetts State House, Beacon Street

Press Conference: 2:00 – 3:30 pm  The Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House 

URL: www.acmeboston.org (Action Coalition for Media Education, Boston Chapter)

The Event: "AT&T: Bringing Us To Tiers"

The Place: Outside the AT&T / SBC building, at the intersection of Congress Parkway and South Federal Street in downtown Chicago (just a block south of the Library / State and Van Buren CTA station, immediately west of the Harold Washington Library Center)

Date/Time: Wednesday, May 24, 4pm - 6pm

San Francisco
Two Community Actions hosted by Media Alliance

12 Noon at AT&T Park
Join media advocates & community activists out front of the SF Giants game for some activist style theatrical sports. Help make the point that consumers won't play ball with AT&T and other Telcos that play ball with the NSA.

4:00pm - 6:00pm at AT&T's main San Francisco headquarters 666 Folsom Street - between 2nd & 3rd

More info at: http://saveaccess.org/protest

Members of the SaveAccess.org Coalition include:

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), NYC Grassroots Media Coalition, Paper Tiger TV, Center for Digital Democracy, Free Press, Association for Community Networking, Action Coalition for Media Education, Chicago Media Action, Media Alliance, Media Tank, CCTV-Cambridge and the Center for Media & Democracy
From: http://www.fair.org/


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The New York Netroots Group has created their own blog and posted information about their meetings with congresscritters. Some excellent advice is included:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Grand Old Party's Grand Plan to Hijack California

Great Post for California Activists

"Coercion, Extortion and Blackmail": The Garamendi Campaign is Under Siege

Look carefully, and the specter of the plan coalesces and clarifies before your horrified eyes. If only we had a skillful Democratic Party leadership - block and tackle could be simple, but, alas, we do not. Is it just that they cannot see, or worse.

More here:
The Grand Old Party's Grand Plan

More information:

the Forest: Insurance Election Scandal Brewing In California

davej on Daily Kos: Election Blackmail Scandal Brewing In CA


CBS 5: Insurers Accused Of Blackmailing Commissioner

Rooming with the media? New York and DC

Nation Interns Seek Housing
We're seeking low-cost housing options in the Washington, DC and New York City areas starting in early to mid June for some responsible, reliable, well-behaved, charming and tidy Nation interns. They all work full-time at the Nation office in Manhattan. Single rooms in houses, apartments or short or long-term house-sitting arrangements would be appropriate and appreciated. Any help you could offer would mean a great deal to us. If you or anyone you know can help out, please email Emily Biuso at emily@thenation.com.

Middle East Specialists Advise Bush Against Iran War

Click the link and sign the petition:

Open Letter to President George Walker Bush

April 21 2006

Mr. President:

We the signatories of this letter have dedicated our lives to studying the Middle East and it is in that capacity and as concerned citizens that we write to strongly oppose and warn against the military option in Iran. As the International Atomic Energy Agency has found no evidence of research or diversion of materials toward atomic weapons in Iran, concerns about future dual use of nuclear technology ought to be addressed in face to face negotiations. Such alternative venues as coercive diplomacy and military action will lead to further militarization and pressures on civil society at the expense of the democratic movement in Iran. The extreme right of the political spectrum of that country will be the sole beneficiary of such policies. The catastrophic regional and global consequences of escalating this crisis will not serve the interests of the United States, the course of democratic development in Iran, or the cause of global peace.


Monday, May 15, 2006

The War on Terror or Theatre of the Absurd

(This is a test.)
It would be funny if it weren't for the horrors this so-called "War" has produced.
Sane people know you can't make war on terror. The hope to end terrorism rests in marginalizing the perpetrators and looking at causes.
Sane people know you can't bomb a country to get terrorists. The price is too high. Besides, terrorists exist in most countries world wide.
Do we bomb them all? Or just the ones that have a lot of brown people (to help us get away with it)?
If bombing's what we need to do to fight terrorism, according to our Government there are a LOT of "terrorists" right here in the good ol' US...somewhere around 325,000 is what I hear. Should we be bombing US cities that harbor them?
Once we're done bombing all the US cities that harbor "terrorists", then we can preemptively strike all cities that harbor scary-looking people. Although, now that it's on the table, there are lots of countries that harbor scary-looking people. Maybe we should strike them as well.
Then, when we're done bombing virtually every place on the planet, we'll have to stike ourselves because well, geeez, who's scarier than us?
Only then can we (if anybody's left standing) look around and say, "WE WON!!"
Oh, Yay...