Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Politics of High Summer--And Why You'd BETTER Care!

On our last show, we reviewed the last week's Primary action, which represented the largest number of Primary elections remaining until November. The week began on Tuesday, stretched to Thursday, and came home on Saturday.

Today, Primary elections are contained in this 24 hours for the week. We'll do a review of these activities, focusing on the upper Midwestern US with some hum-dinger, doozy of some races in, among other places, Minnesota.

We hope you will join us this  coming Sunday, beginning at 2PM (Central Time) for a full review of some Hi Summer Politics, and the Hy-jinks and hilarity that go with them.

We will also cover the leading news of the day, and offer our respect, gratitude and thanks to one of the most amazing comedic minds of this, or any other time: Robin Williams.

Sometimes, things just happen at the speed of life.

Sometimes, there's no way to get out of the fast lane in time to avoid a collision. Sometimes, life wins. Sometimes, it doesn't.

We're on the air!

We'll see YOU there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

PPTS: July 27, 2014 "The Battle For Coffee Party USA (Part 2 of 3)

Comes to us now the question that is most often uttered by the non-believer:

"What Can I Do About It?"

Here's one man's answer:

This is one of the more important speeches of my adult lifetime. It should be one of yours, as well. Why?

As much as I believe it gives clear and convincing evidence of the fantasy of the question above, it also speaks directly for--and to the Coffee Party USA. This speech was delivered by Rev. Dr. Barber the evening immediately following the "March On Detroit", a Netroots Nation action addressing the plight of some 90,000 Detroiters who found themselves without water.

Amazing as this peroration is, it also addresses the central (core) question of today's investigation of the Coffee Party USA:

"Why Should I Care?"

There are many who believe that everyone believes the implicit answer to the first question, and that no one fancies answering the second. Yet, if we were to pay just a bit more attention, with our unique ears, the ears of "citizen", we might well see proof that there ARE individuals who are not only activists in their speech, but in their direct action as well.

From a single comment, from one single person on a FaceBook page has grown a movement of more than 1,100 members, more than 400,000 "likes" on FaceBook, multiple local organizations, and significant national, regional, state and local activism. Regardless of what you may believe, that's a lot of result for one person's single comment on social media. One person.

The amazing journey has seen tremendous victories, and dangerous failings. That's the way of movement birth. Trying to consolidate a unified message around so many prevailing needs, activities, and activists is very much like herding cats. Even on a good day, it can seem nothing more than disorganized chaos (the worst kind of chaos, after all!). Passionate activism is difficult to contain, and even direct. The Progressive tent is perhaps the largest among them all, but even this canopy cannot always contain those individuals who seek a wrong, and try to make things right. The progressive movement is not one defined by, or restricted to political ideology: it is all about action that helps those with passion and purpose become the change they seek.

Bringing resources to bear on those things that matter most in a land so often divided can be a daunting task in the best of circumstance. Coordinating, or even defining a message that will be shared and agreed to by so many requires many skills. Perhaps the greatest among those skills is flexibility.

"Now!" is a very important term when you are discussing movements of change. The Coffee Party USA has found itself squarely in the sites of its own members at times, who care much more for relevant activism than the mundane affairs of organization. So it is with new movements. Flexibility matched with patience and perseverance are hallmarks of activist organizers. Leaders often find themselves more the victim then the victor. When so many issues of such great weight and importance assail a nation--or a world, time is often the greatest of all enemies. Every month paced as details and plans are made, it is inevitably people who have to pay the greatest price. Sometimes, when that people is enshrined in a person you know, and care about, time is mostly measured in time lost. While it is easier to see that reality in far away places, it is sometimes as close as your own small rural community. You will often hear a quote by Former U. S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neal, Democrat from Boston, Massachusetts who said that "All politics is local." But, very few ever complete the quote. The full quote of Mr. O'Neal is that "All politics is local--and personal!"

While much can be forgiven or overlooked when the first part of that quote is bandied about, the same is not true for the second and concluding part. It is true that the closer to the roof under which you live, the more politics matters, when it becomes personal for you is when politics matters the most. War is not such a terrible decision until your child dies in combat. Education is a large, nebulous issue until your school closes because the citizens of your community refused a mill levy increase to provide salaries for teachers. Poverty is endemic, and a reality in every nation that doesn't "touch" you until you are living under a bridge, hungry and unable to receive the medications you need to live.

Issues and news items become depressing, and untrustworthy as you see them on the evening telecast. We feel, but we are very likely not to care as much as we would if we were the news that evening. It is quite difficult to empathize with a mourning mother until it is your child laying on a Mortician's table. Politics is local--and personal. We as citizen have for years tried to insulate ourselves from the "tyranny of the urgent" so prevalent in our news. Not only as citizen, but as humans our life experiences have been impacted for so very long, and to such a very great degree that we repair to the seeming illusion of safety within our families and even our towns.

We have, for four generations now, failed to teach our progeny the important lessons of citizen. One of the guiding principles of democracy has been that it is citizen who defends and protects that same democracy. Like it or not, there are times when citizen is called upon to live up to the demands, obligations, and privileges of that same democracy as citizen. One person, acting in accord with others who not only understand the term, but are somehow hard wired to live it out. It is not when being citizen is convenient that we find our best measure, but when being citizen is so very, very hard.

When those hard times come calling, citizen seeks citizen for comfort, for understanding, for guidance and leadership in ways and areas that polity does not tread. Our political ideology fails us, and we seek out the knowing eye of citizen standing beside us to find our strength to stand up, step out, and through transformative action renew a pledge made long before by those who have paid, even with their blood.

It is at times such as these that communities of activists seem to emerge from the fog of the irrelevant, from the long gone veteran to the child taught that citizen is not merely a word, but a birth right. We grow within it, most often without even knowing that it is citizen being prepared for "that" moment when not one more moment can pass without our activism. From protecting our planet when the aggregious and casual arrogance of mankind makes the damage (and the potential results of that arrogance) so very clear that we can no longer avoid or ignore it, to discovering that the failure to expand Medicaid in your State is directly impacting hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizen, those moments do come. When they do, it is through movements such as the Coffee Party USA that we rally around each other because we must. It is who we are. It is what we do. It is why America matters, not just to citizen, but as a citizen herself to a global community screaming in agony for hope.

The original founders of the Coffee Party USA have confidently left the organization to its membership, to have the battles that will rage for so long as anyone has that moment. In good times, and through some presently very bad times, the significance of the Coffee Party USA lies within the vision, mission and purpose of the organization. That is where citizen matters. That is where citizen gathers. When it is your moment, the organization should rally to your cause, just as you rally to another member's cause in their time, their moment. Now, these visionary Americans are doing what they do in other areas of our land, calling other citizens to their very best moments--and their worst.

What Tip O'Neal knew so many years ago is that "Now!" is very real, and a time any self-respecting politician should always watch for. Of course, his was a history where some citizens arose to greatness, while others simply had greatness thrust upon them. We today are no different. We are no less citizen and we share the responsibility for our national life and identity. Beyond the sometimes terrible strife and angst of party ideology, or the "sturm und drang" of national life, citizen still receives the call. That call is inevitably local, and very personal. It has always been so.

A community discovers to its collective horror that a corporation, interested in nothing more than corporate profits, intends to remove any semblance of health or medical care from thousands of its citizens. With the absolute assurance that in only months, communities who have survived the worst the world had to offer could begin their death throes for no reason more or less than the profit of a not-for-profit business entity wanting to pump up its paid insurance collections, to dilute its mix of medicaid payments and poverty-stricken patients who, while being diverse, are also pretty poor overall. The community looks for direction, for the leadership to help them avoid this dangerous cliff.

Welcome to Belhaven, North Carolina, 2014. The community looks to it's local government and its mayor to keep its citizens alive, and healthy. And together. The Mayor reaches out to the hospital corporation, seeking discussion. Nothing. The Mayor reaches out to the Governor of his State, and his Statehouse delegation. Nothing. He reaches out to his federal delegation. Nothing. The hospital is going to close, and the closest medical care will be 109 miles away. If that's a problem...move.

Suddenly, national conversations around Medicaid expansion, The Affordable Care Act, and Medicare have come home. These issues are now local. And then? While waiting for an hour to be airlifted to the closest hospital facility, a member of the community dies from the ravaging effects of a myocardial infarction (MI), a heart attack. She expired in an ambulance, in the care and company of EMT's who had done all they could. As the helicopter landed, this community citizen died.

Politics is personal. A family of three children and a loving husband have lost their waystar. A community has lost one of its own. The Mayor? He determines that, for himself, this must not stand.
Hear Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal (R-Belhaven) (no relation), and his continuing story, in his own words:

This is one man's journey to citizen. Tomorrow morning, around 10 AM (Eastern Time), he will cross the 14th Street Bridge into the bowels of Foggy Bottom. They wouldn't come to him. He is coming to them. I hope he has just a ton of fellow citizens who will complete the last five miles of this walk with and for him. The Coffee Party USA didn't create Mayor O'Neal, but the Coffee Party USA is cognizant of the truth that one person can make a difference. One person can even change the world. Bus loads of the members of his community will be waiting for Mayor O'Neal tomorrow. So will Rev. Barber. A local, personal saga continues for one man. I hope his walk will ignite citizen across this land.

That's why you should care.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Personal Battlefield: The Battle For Coffee Party USA

Over the past 24 weeks, this show has been focused on a national war, namely "The War on the Poor!". In our investigations, we have looked at, defined, and given citizen calls to action for seven "Battle Fields" of that War.

Beginning on Sunday, July 20th, 2014, "Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style" (PPTS) will begin a three episode investigation into the Coffee Party USA. We will look at the origins and founding of the Coffee Party USA from an historical perspective, why it was begun, who began it, and what the expectations for Coffee Party USA were.

We'll discuss the activities, activists and activism of the Coffee Party USA since its inception as a comment on a FaceBook page. More than 400,000 "Likes", and more than 1,100 members later, we'll look at what challenges and successes face the Coffee Party USA today, and tomorrow.

For both clarity, and for the purposes of fair play and disclosure, I am a member of the Coffee Party USA, and was recently recruited to stand as a candidate to become President of the Board of Directors of the organization. This, and future episodes of PPTS will look not at my personal dealings with CPUSA, but the organization as a whole. (In fact, I received a letter this week from the current Board of Directors informing me that my membership in "that" organization has been revoked, my sustaining financial contributions "banned", and advice to consider becoming a member of some other (any other) organization. I now feel completely free to investigate professionally the organization of today, and look at the possibilities and plans for the organization of tomorrow.

This is my personal space. I use it as I see fit. I will not be silenced, or have my activism challenged by individuals who do not, in my professional estimation, have the knowledge, expertise or experience to adjudicate my worthiness--for anything. Nor should you, and that is why YOU should do something about it. Gaining insight and information about an amazing group is a really great "first step" to your own activism, within twelve blocks of your home.

We're on the air!

We'll see YOU there.

PS: Three items have been added to this blog's side bar today. One is a donation site for PPTS itself. We need your help to remain on the air for the next 12 months. Your donation of a small portion of your treasure will insure that our more than 50,000 listens this year can double across America in the next twelve months. Without your help, PPTS will be forced, once again, into an involuntary hiatus. Never has there been a more important time for us to be on the air. Please help us.

The other two new items are self explanatory. Please consider them as means to your personal activism. Thank you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Three Themes from Global Connectors +SocialGood

One of the great sadnesses of our time is that we fail to see the amazing among us. Fix it

Three Themes from Global Connectors +SocialGood

Highlights from the Connectors and Advisors convening in Washington DC.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Global Cities+Social Good

Having no apparent solutions to real problems is what makes us citizen. Join in!

Global Cities+Social Good

It is not news that the urban sphere is becoming ever important. By 2050, over 70 percent of humanity will be living in urban centers, in the greatest shift in humanity's living conditions since the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. But more than that, urbanization—just like globalization—has become a fundamental process affecting the landscape of international affairs, defining the human experience in the 21st century as never before. This innovative half-day summit will explore the nexus between technology and policy and how they are contributing to better and more sustainable urban living. The summit will bring together mayors, public policy experts, leaders in technology and city design, and influencers in...Read More

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PPTS For Sunday, June 29, 2014: "The War on the Poor!":The Battle For Equality" (Part 1 of 3)

For the majority of 2014, PPTS has been investigating a series of realities in the United States, and around the globe. We have chosen the title "The War on the Poor".

As we begin the seventh of a planned series of eight particular investigations, "The Battle For Equality", I'd like to give you our framework for every episode in this series. It's nothing magical, or ultra-intelligence at play. It's very simple, formulaic, and something we highly encourage anyone to use if they wish to look into something of both value AND substance. It's been a long look for us, and we've had to remain flexible to current news and activities. Periodic interruptions have put the series into a "time out" of sorts along the way. So, following the PPTS Rule #1:

Rule #1

Flexibility is the first requirement of success.

With a really good plan, things happen intentionally. There is no doubt that sometimes, unanticipated things just happen. But things tend to happen at the speed of life. If your plans are so fixed that any deviation causes your plan to collapse, you have not planned properly or realistically.

On our show, we have learned the skills of flexibility well. I'm proud of our teams who have come to understand and adopt for themselves the necessity of flexibility. One member gets very ill, and must be hospitalized. Someone fills in, without complaint. The team continues forward, according to the plan. Or not. If we cannot viably cover that team member's role (and we should be able to, normally.) then the activity is temporarily suspended. Other activity, which is possible, is pursued until all is well, the team re-united, and we move forward together.

It's not because we have, as a team, committed inflexibly to some rule, or policy, or procedure. It is rather because we have committed, as a team, to each other, the show, and our listeners. As we do find our show's origins generally within the scope and sphere of politics in America from the Progressive viewpoint, the production values of an episode are vital to our success. One of those production values is current relevance to our listeners. Natural disasters, crime, war, and many other new realities upon us as a nation may show a need to create an entirely new episode, on the fly. This team has learned to do that very well. Flexibility continues, sometimes even in the midst of a live show.

The Questions

From a "clean screen" to the final edited show for the archives and replay, the following questions are always in play:

1. What do we think we know? (Opinions, the "noise" of the moment, etc.)

2. What can we prove we know? (What is truth, versus opinion, versus lie?)

3. What do we know we know? (The difference that will become our episode.)

And then, a second series of questions guides our team through the final production of the episode:

4. What does our listener know? (Have we correctly parsed the issue(s) into sufficiently useful information for our listeners in a way they can use correctly?) 

In this series, this is the focal point of the first of the three episodes around each battlefield.

5. Why should he/she care? (Have we truly engaged our listener in a manner conducive to a passion of interest that will change their lives?)

This is the second focus, and usually (but not always) grounds the show's second of the three episodes.

6. What are they now empowered to do about it? (What confidence do we have in our product that our listener will "buy into", and take personal ownership responsibility for in their lives of activism?)

This is the final focus, which brings together the previous two episodes in the series, and hopefully catapults our listeners into action.

When we begin to tackle the whole arena of "Equality", we very quickly began to understand that this is a very active word, with multiple meanings to multiple constituencies. We saved it for the seventh "Battlefield" because of the potential universal application of the term across many fronts. We will give voice to several areas of equality in this investigation, and we will focus, beginning today, on some of them.

However, this is the point in our investigation where our listeners can really "bring us home"! There is not even a reliable textbook definition of some forms of equality that we live with every day. The correct use of the term completely depends upon context. Mine is not yours. Yours matters.

We looked, as we began planning for this series, for impressive and knowledgeable Special Guests to help us all speak as one voice, equal. We learned that this particular goal is simply not possible: impossible, in fact. The strongest voice is not necessarily "The" voice required. Yours is.

We hope you will join us on Sunday, June 29, 2014, for a two-hour conversation about "The Battle For Equality" and let us know your answers to the questions which drive PPTS.

We'll see you there!

For Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style, I am

The Tennessee Progressive

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 14th, 2014 "The War on the Poor:The Battle For Religion" (Part 2 of 3) "Dialogue"

Today's show now posted for your viewing and commenting pleasure, is a "raw" cut, which means it has not yet been edited. When that edit is complete, I will reload the edited version to the Blog Talk Radio site, and this blog as well.

In a quick re-listening (always a difficult task for me), I must tell you I was not drunk. That being said:

The working title for this episode was "Dialogue".

The term comes from two Greek words of origin. The first is "Dia", which is most correctly translated as "two". The second word is "logos", which most correctly translates to the English word "words".

The rather common definition of the term, then, comes to us as "Two words". The words themselves are each owned by another than yourself. The idea behind it is that it takes two to have dialogue, or discourse on some subject or another.

Before the words matter, the concept of dialogue should be addressed. Sometimes, by voluntary participation, two different words, or ideas, or positions find each other in the same place at one time. In these days, many feel compelled not to speak at all. Most of those who feel a significant allegiance to one position or another may not come to that position from a logical path. When faced with the option of participating in discourse, any number of emotional responses might immediately feed the mind, while completely ignoring the voice. Words make us think. They also make us feel. Emotions do not think. Logic does not feel.

It would therefore make some sense that these two relational differences might at first seem to be antithetical to the entire notion of dialogue. That's because they are. These two worlds exist as polar opposites, yet they do feed into the human determination of what in politics we call "position". Do you have a position on ____?

How many times will your initial response be something like "Well, I'm not sure. Let me give that some thought (and emotion) and I'll get back to you. Would that be alright?" Why should it be? Why not?

Asking for, or offering a position on virtually anything can nail you forever to that particular spot, no matter what the topic may be. It may be a voluntary assignment, or an involuntary determination placed upon you by another. We have this overwhelming competitive spirit as humans (well, at least those of us with a belly button!) that we will most often immediately gravitate to the internal opinion that we are needing to be "right" (correct). Our opinion or understanding of a topic really takes a back seat to our intent to win.

Politics is filled with this dangerous paradigm. We must, however recall that, across the arc of human history, politics has started or ended many fewer conflicts between humans than religion ever has. Human secularism has sought to fill it's population from that perspective, namely if religion has wrought this, then religion just is not for me. Further, and in these days more commonly, we hear that having a religious identity or a personal faith is an outward sign of our ignorance. I refer to such thinking as "fleeing to the extremes" because that is precisely what we do. How can dialogue exist in such an environment?

Oddly enough, that very truth has become a defensive weapon on one side, and a powerful offensive weapon on the other side of the Battle For Religion. One reason fleeing to the extremes is so potent for both sides is that the middle ground is vacant. It is the middle ground where dialogue potentially exists. As a result, dialogue just doesn't happen.

Is it possible to create dialogue in such a place with views, opinions and/or convictions are so concretized as if hard wired within us? What is it that we fear losing, and at what cost? If we can come to grips with this answer, not only does dialogue become possible, but so does dialogue about pretty much anything else. Therein lies the hope of some, and the greatest possible danger to others. The ideology surrounding this concept is the power center for both. When we exit the possibility of dialogue, we give up the possibilities for dialogue, consensus, and compromise. We need not give up our religious or faith beliefs to have such a dialogue, yet we constantly feel threatened at the notion.

Abortion. Marriage Equality. The Death Penalty. These are but brief examples of a very long list of issues which are, or are alleged to be centered around the idea of "religious liberty". Some look at our First Amendment to The Constitution as giving American citizen the freedom OF religion, while others view the statement as insuring the American citizen the freedom FROM religion. Sadly, there are very few better examples of fleeing to the extremes. The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a State Religion. This comes from history, specifically feudal and fiefdom theology of Europe, where towns were said to belong to a specific religion. We said that we would not have such a thing as a State Religion here in America. Some States and Commonwealths did establish official "State" religions upon their founding. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts come to my mind. Utah comes to mind. Pilgrims were considered to be a religious sect. That notion, and those constitutional foundations have since been repealed.

Bring us forward through the annals of our national history, and you arrive at the notion of religious liberty as it applies to virtually everything, and usually in a most negative way. The Catholic Church is excoriated for it's denial of child sexual assault while protecting the perpetrators from the world of Justice. Many Catholics now face the wrath of ignorance by those who tell them that being Catholic automatically implies their support of pedophilia. This is the cultural insanity that can originate in one wrong logical thought. Why bother having a dialogue about this, or any other religion-centric topic?

For the same reason we should come together, and reason together.  The American citizen is not asked which side should win. The American citizen is not asked who is right in the position they hold.

The American citizen is required to answer the question that asks "What is the best result for the citizen?"

If we can just come together with our different opinions and convictions, especially with the answer to this question as the basis (and limit) of civil discourse, there is much we can do. There is much we cannot do, issues we cannot reasonably arrest and force into the common marketplace of ideas, debate and discourse. But there are many things we can do. Having a reasoned, civil, respectful, honest discourse is something we can, should, and must do. We must determine that we will not flee to the extremes.

Even in conversations about religion.