Now it's clear: July 23 Speakout event to include Jim McDermott

In an earlier post, Questions about Progressive Congress’s Speakout event on July 23 in Seattle, I expressed confusion and perplexity about the purpose of a Speakout (“Congressional Listening Tour”) event in Seattle. But today I got email that explained what’s going on. Rep Jim McDermott (D), a progressive hero, and other unspecified lawmakers will be attending the event on July 23 at South Seattle Community College’s Brockey Center, at 6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, 98106.

“Pro-worker Members of Congress are coming to town to hear from us about the need for good jobs in our community…. Tell your story to members of Congress who are working to create good jobs and opportunity for every American.”

The email said the event is sponsored by ProgressiveCongress.org, the advocacy group led by Washington State’s own Darcy Burner.

Robert Sargent says that he expects to see Dennis Kucinich at the event, since Kucinich will be at an event in Kent later in the evening.

Thoughts on yesterday's American Dream meeting

Like tens of thousands of other people across the country, I attended an American Dream meeting this weekend.   The meetings were organized by MoveOn.org and supported by dozens of other liberal advocacy groups as well, as you can see by viewing the icons of advocacy groups at the bottom of this MoveOn page.  If the Democratic Party did its job, we would not need all those advocacy groups.

I’ve been active in local politics for several years and I was happy to see lots of new faces.  About 25 people showed up. One thing I noticed was that almost everyone was new. Other than the host for the event, everyone was a new face, I think.  What happened to all the regulars?  Burnt out perhaps.

Everyone who showed up seemed deeply concerned about what is happening to the country. A few people seemed particularly smart and focussed. The average age was probably in the 60s.

The meeting agenda asked us to bring an object that had special meaning for us, introduce ourselves, tell personal stories,and then vote on the top three issues that concerned us. Examples of issues included overturning Citizens United, reversing the Bush tax cuts, establishing Medicare for all, supporting public workers, stopping the offshoring of jobs and profits, closing the revolving door for lobbyists, public financing of campaigns, supporting public education, supporting women’s rights, raising the Social Security contribution limit from $106,000. etc, etc, etc.  We broke into two groups and spent over an hour reading through the lists, discussing them, and voting.   This exercise had some value, I suppose, but people thought: we need to work on all these issues and all these issues are inter-related.  What’s the point of these votes?

Two issues that seemed not to be directly included on the list were (1) securing the integrity and transparency of elections, and (2) strengthening progressive media.  After some discussion, my group agreed to ask/petition MoveOn to include election integrity in its list of important issues.

During my self-introduction I said  that if angry progressives kicked out centrists and took over the Democratic Party the way Christian conservatives and Tea Partiers took over the GOP, then the Democratic Party would be more progressive.

American Dream House  Meeting

The meeting was useful as an introduction for new people, but I think almost everyone there was already pretty informed and pretty damn angry.  So, I think the meeting would have been a lot more productive if there had been a concrete action plan for participants to follow.  I didn’t come away with the feeling that anything much was accomplished. At work, every meeting has a clearly specified purpose. Nothing is more disheartening than a useless meeting.

Telling personal stories and bringing a meaningful object strike me as rather childish. Perhaps that’s overly judgmental.

Early in the meeting, one outspoken and eloquent woman said, “Let’s meet and discuss how to oppose the Tea Party.” That sounds like it could have been damn useful.  Some other guy mentioned that he’d attended the transit hearing in Kirkland the other week and that he was disturbed to hear angry, organized anti-tax people, including Tim Eyman. Why can’t progressives be powerful like that?  That’s the same point I made here, in my review of the Kirkland meeting.

MoveOn and the other organizers are planning additional American Dream meetings in the future.  Let’s hope that turnout continues to be high and that the agendas include work on  concrete action plans that participants can follow.

People are angry. How can the Left constructively mobilize that anger?

The organizer for my meeting, Jennie Petersen, allowed everyone to stay late.  The meeting included a pot luck, and the food sure was good!  Someone mentioned that right wingers often socialize through their church groups.  I said that for liberals, maybe politics is our way to socialize. So I guess it’s important to keep it fun.

The spokesman for the American Dream movement is Van Jones, the Obama  environmental adviser who was forced out by right wing distortions (and by Obama Administration spinelessness).  When I did a google search on “‘American Dream’ Jones”, the first relevant hit — the very first hit was irrelevant: a music album by Mike Jones — was a right winger’s attack piece on Van Jones and the American Dream movement.    Search engine optimization is important.  Messaging and building a left wing media are important.

Why it is Important to the Peace Movement to keep Dennis Kucinich in Congress

I  think all this talk about allowing Republicans in Ohio to gerrymander Dennis Kucinich out of Congress fails to consider the bigger picture. If  we in the Peace Movement lose Dennis’s voice in Congress, who will lead  the cause of peace in what has become a war-mongering nation? No one in  Congress has been more consistently opposed to wars than Dennis Kucinich. No one has been more outspoken and courageous in standing up to the military industrial monopoly than Dennis. No one has been a greater defender of the US Constitution and the Duty reserved to Congress to declare war than Dennis. So, as someone who believes in the cause of peace, come Hell or High Water, I am going to do everything I can to keep Dennis in Congress – wherever he runs.

The only question in my mind is what is the best way to keep Dennis in Congress? I have reviewed the political nightmare in Ohio – analyzing every one of their Congressional Districts. Republicans are in charge of  redistricting in Ohio and there is no question that after Republicans get through redrawing the Ohio map, Dennis will have no viable options left in Ohio – given his pledge that he will not run against another incumbent Democrat. I then moved on to study every other State picking up Congressional seats. Most of these are in Texas and Florida – two States where Dennis would be unlikely to win.

Finally, I looked at Washington State . Here is a study I did explaining why it is highly likely that the new 10th Congressional District will be in NE King County – and will be a Democratic leaning Congressional District with no incumbent from either party. Having lived in NE King County for more than 30 years, I am extremely confident that Independents and even Republicans would vote for Dennis – because out here spending trillions of dollars on endless wars has become VERY unpopular.

So  yes, THOUSANDS of peace advocates from all over the US would work hard to elect Dennis wherever he ran. And THOUSANDS of peace advocates from Seattle would also work hard to elect Dennis should he run here in Washington State . But ultimately it will be up to the voters. So the question is whether the voters of East King County would support a nationally known Peace Candidate like Dennis. I believe they will. And I  believe this new Congressional District in our State will be Dennis’s best chance of any place in the entire nation to remain in Congress.

I am sorry about what is happening in Ohio . But there is nothing I can do about the problem of the out-of-control Republicans in Ohio who hate Dennis so much they are willing to rig the election system just to get rid of him. But should Dennis decide to come to Washington State , I for one intend to work day and night and knock on as many doors as I can to help keep Dennis’s voice for Peace in Congress.

NW Roots Conference: Joel Connelly and others at media workshop

Joel Connelly attended the NW Roots conference in Seattle yesterday and wrote these two articles about it: Inslee takes the edge off controversial idea and Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich.

The second article contains several taunts against Kucinich: “fiery old-time populism, mixed with New Age”, “is looking to Washington as a state where he once saw a UFO (staying at Shirley MacLaine’s home in Graham)”,  and “The congressman mentioned ‘violence against animals.'”  Even the title “Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich” is a taunt.

Curmudgeonly Connelly sometimes espouses progressive views, but he’s no apologist for progressives. As a professional journalist, he probably should be skeptical.

I lamented to him the loss of the Seattle P-I editorial page. He smirked and said that few people had read it, and it was boringly predictable in its liberal views. I said that at least it provided balance to the Seattle Times’ editorial page. I asked him why the P-I doesn’t raise the prominence of the P-I’s online editorial pages, so that readers can contribute and feel invested. He said they might. I asked him whether the Seattle Times is making money. He said: probably they’re losing money.

So far the Seattle Times — which I don’t subscribe to and avoid visiting, as punishment for their adamant opposition to I-1098 — does not mention NW Roots, at least on its home page.

At the media break-out session at NW Roots, Connelly and others, including Darcy Burner, discussed the prospects for finding a viable funding model for newspapers and investigative journalism. My question to the panel was about public funding for investigative journalism. Just as we need the police and the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to protect us, we should fund independent investigative journalism. It would serve the public good and forgoing it is just stupid. But anti-tax craziness has overtaken the nation, and people are hardly even willing to fund public education.

Connelly responded that well-written, engaging journalism can both entertain and inform. He gave an example: an interesting story that had political impact. “Reports of newspapers’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.” People thought that file sharing would be the end of the music business. But iTunes shows that you can make money online. We need a similar model for news.

But I doubt it’s doable in general: I think that the Internet has doomed effective for-profit investigative journalism. Too few people are willing to pay for hard news, as opposed to smut and entertainment and financial advice. Furthermore, I think that in the long run, America will return to the balance between public and private that the Founders saw we needed. The US Constitution is a compromise between big-government Federalists and small-government Jeffersonians. It calls for the defense of the General Welfare, as discussed here. But recently America has lost its balance.

Other things said at the media break-out session:

Murdoch has moved from the gutter to the sewer (phone hacking, bribery). Britain’s news is even worse than America’s.

The Internet and Net Neutrality are our last great hope for media (Darcy). Millenials (under 30) don’t watch TV or read regular newspapers. They use facebook. Blue ocean territory.

The Right has set up virtuous cycles with huge return on investment. They buy politicians and media and both reward them.

Q: How can I get press accreditation (credentials)? Show you get your major income from journalism. (lol)

Recently, Rob McKenna refused to speak when a lefty cameraman appeared at a speech.

Journalists really do aim for accuracy and evidence. Too many bloggers eschew accuracy for opinion. (Connelly) Someone disagreed, saying, “Just because they’re paid to write doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” (Fox News) Unpaid bloggers sometimes break great stories (Bush torture). Connelly said: sometimes corporate media do it right and break good stories, even if it dooms them financially. (He gave an example of the Hearst Corporation’s plan to by the Tri-City Herald and the concurrent story in the P-I about a 25 year radioactive leak from a smokestack in that community.)

To attract readers, don’t use facts and graphs, as Drew Westen suggests in The Political Brain.

Ultimately people will have to pay for online content or no one will produce it. (I’m not getting paid for this!) Hard to get paywalls started; people go to free content.

More on NW Roots soon.

Questions about Progressive Congress's Speakout event on July 23 in Seattle

ProgressiveCongress.org and Progressive Action Fund are sponsoring a public event on July 23 at South Seattle Community College. Here is their blurb (copied from a pdf file they sent):

It’s not often that lawmakers come to our community to ask directions, but that’sexactly what they’re doing.

Our community has been hit hard by the economy. For too long, Congress has
taken us in the direction of tax cuts for the rich and bailouts for banks and big
business. That has only put us farther down the road to ruin. We know the road to solving this crisis is through making corporations and CEOs pay their fair share so our government can use our tax dollars to create good jobs—not corporate bailouts.

Members of Congress who are interested in getting things back on the right track are coming to Seattle to get directions from us; to hear about our experiences and our ideas for fixing this crisis. It’s our turn to make sure they hear what we need—good jobs for our community.

Bring your neighbors and family and let’s make our voices heard. Together we can help Congress get back on the road to recovery.

Saturday, July 23
Noon (doors open at 11:30 a.m.)

Brockey Conference Center,
South Seattle Community College
6000 16th Ave. SW

One part of this that confuses me is the statement “Members of Congress who are interested in getting things back on the right track are coming to Seattle to get directions from us.” This is unclear. Who’s “us”? What members of Congress? Where in Seattle? Will members of Congress be at the event on July 23? Do the members of Congress really want to “get directions from us”? My guess is that lawmakers will be on recess and will return to their districts all over the country. I doubt that lawmakers will be at the event.

Also, what exactly is the purpose of the meeting?

[Added on July 19, 2011: Now it’s clear: July 23 Speakout event to include Jim McDermott]

According to their About page, “Progressive Congress was built at the intersection between the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the progressive movement to connect the progressive movement, ideas, and Congress. Founded by the leadership and staff of the CPC and key leaders in the progressive movement, the board includes a broad cross-section of the progressive community in the United States and the leadership of the CPC.”

Their Progressive Messaging Projects have poll-tested suggestions about how progressives should talk to undecideds about taxes, deficits, health care and other issues.

Progressive Congress’s president and executive director is Washington State’s own Darcy Burner, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th CD in 2006 and 2008.

Progressive Congress’s board of directors seems good.

The organization seems useful, but it’s unclear to me how it’s supposed to mesh with the hundreds of other progressive advocacy groups competing for our support.   MoveOn and VanJones, for example, are trying to organize a mass movement. PDA is always doing good work too.   Progressive Congress itself has a ProgressiveMap project, which is “a free encyclopedia about the people, issues, and groups shaping the progressive movement. Begun in 2009 and launched in 2010, ProgressiveMap now has 880 articles, as of today, thanks to interested contributors like you.”

Ideally, the Democratic Party would do its job and fight against conservative policies. But since the Democrats are complicit in corruption and militarism, we need all these progressive advocacy groups. Many good Democrats know this is so. If progressives overthrew the centrist Dems, the way the religious conservatives and Teabaggers kicked out centrist Republicans. we’d be way better off. But don’t take this to mean that the progressive Left is as crazy as the Tea Party Right.  In science and in society, there are winners and losers, right and wrong. To determine the truth about global warming, we don’t split the difference between climate scientists and climate-change deniers. To determine the truth about the origins of humanity, we don’t split the difference between evolutionary biologists and believers in creationism. Nor should we say, as you often hear, that the progressive left is as crazy as the Tea Party right.

Anyone know more about this Progressive Congress meeting?