Sunday, January 18, 2015

PPTS January 18, 2015: Living In Lester Land: Why It Matters

January 18, 2015

On today's show, we begin a four part examination of "Life In Lester Land", a theme made famous by Harvard Law Professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig in his newest social activist engagement:

As our future is in large part determined by Lessig's talk, I highly encourage you to watch, take notes, and create a dialog with yourself about what you think of this talk. We'll hopefully talk about that over the next four weeks. Today's show (shortened due to some rather severe technical issues we did not create) is available via podcast at the show site, and via Pod-O-Matic on the lower right hand side of this page.

We also discussed the upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday evening (9 PM Eastern time) by President Obama. I asked you what you would have the President say to you during this Address, and told you that you have an opportunity to inform the President, through Tuesday afternoon, of your desires by going to the SOTU site and letting him know. Here are a couple of highlights:

Given the dire situation Lessig describes, and the forward-looking President and his optimistiv view of the things progressives have done over the past few years, I believe there is sufficient room for thinking about both positions.

One reason I think this is because I believe both citizens to be correct in their thinking and evaluation of our nation as it currently exists. How can sometimes diametrically opposing views both be correct?

Watch, and consider. Then, let's talk about it.


The Tennessee Progresive

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Looking At History To Determine Our Future

PPTS has completed the groundwork of a 24 week series entitled "The War On The Poor!". In retrospect, the arguments raged, even for the series title. Many on the team, and from listeners wanted the series to be called "The War FOR The Poor!". I chose the final series title because the alternate option seemed to be more appropriate for those who would come to disagree with the information presented in the series.

I did, however choose for each "battlefield" to include the word "for" because these eight investigations, each lasting (at least) three episodes deal with areas of our nation's life which seem to be at risk. Women, equality, healthcare, education, Justice, etc. ...these battlefields all seem to stand in the gap, at risk.

That's because they are. Forces well above the abilities of the average citizen, those who make up the 99 percent of us all are engaged in a very uncivil war to capture each battlefield, not for the greater purposes of increasing the lives and living in America of all her citizens, but rather for the taking by oligarchs, corporatists, plutocrats and theocrats for nothing more than the joy of refusing their bounty to any but themselves.

This is, in the end democracy itself at risk. Mine is not the unthinking cry of the vain, or the timid. These are not thought experiments or some laboratory exercises.  Nor are these inscrutable mysteries innoculated from our thought and reason. They are the vanities of man.

Has this ever happened before, anywhere?

Of course it has. It has happened since time immemorial. Power has been defined, denied, refused and won by man over man, but to what end? In some cases, for the betterment of all. In other cases, for the vanity of a few.

The cost of democracy has, is now, and will always be nothing less than diligence. From even before our experiment began, we were warned of dangers to democracy by those very same founders (and many others) of our nation. History has, so far, proven their warning prescient and timely. Strangely enough, even ancient warnings are holding sway today across our land. There has been, and remains to this day, only one power strong enough to overcome those who would simply take from democracy and The United States of America all they can hold before tossing aside the vestigial remains of what once was.

That is the voice of citizen.

During this month of October, 2014, we are investigating realities from our past, from even before the founding of this nation to the present day to see, and realize just exactly what it is we have accomplished, what it is we stand to lose, and what we can/should do about it right where we live "...within 12 miles of where you live."

Thomas Jefferson believed that his generation must win the independence, and the next must win the equality for all. From the enlightenment of the world, we faced the eventual necessity of addressing our inhumanity to our fellow man directly, painfully, and finally. That task remains, to this day, unfinished. Equality is a noble ambition, yet one fraught with difficulty and danger. Thus, our investigation quickly moves from the "know about" to the "know how" of democracy in our time.

Victorian and Edwardian England have much historical significance to our goal as a true liberal democracy. If every person, every citizen matters then we must understand how nations have failed at proving it. Yet, the history of that time in England reverberates with the words and feelings--and actions which we must deal with now. Those same words and feelings from way back then are being heard in our own country today, but not only where we live, but across the planet. As repugnant as we may find them, we do not create service for ourselves or our fellow citizen by ignoring them. We've been trying that for a very long time, indeed. It is also important to note that many great and wonderful things came through those desolate days, as well.

By investigating the thoughts and mores of those times in England (primarily due to their overwhelming presence at the time, and the clear historical record which remains of them), we can get a more observable view of ourselves today. We might even understand that the "War ON the Poor!" of those days has not changed very much, much to our national shame.

I promised a video that would be very difficult to watch, yet one I believe we must see in order to begin a genuine conversation and discourse about what WE should do about it, right now. Here is that video. It's approximately 90 minutes long. It is very difficult to watch, and is not safe at work or for children. Nevertheless, I urge you to view it. Take notes. Make observations. Look around our national landscape today, and see if you can hear, or see anything akin to what this documentary presents to you.

From the days of the workhouse/poorhouse, we visited the history of America and the world from 1900 to 1950. Two World Wars, planetary economic collapse, and the folly of greed and avarice. Why one assassin's two bullets killed tens of millions of humans in the search for power and economic superiority was investigated. I stopped the series here, because I believe we have enough reason just from these few episodes to take seriously the series which came before it.

From this point until November 9th, 2014 (following the national general elections), we will be looking for your response to both series, and your election stories. Do you agree, or disagree with the views expressed by PPTS during these past two years? Why, or why not? How did your voting go? Was it important enough for you to do what was required to experience the sanctity of the ballot box, to actually "exercise the franchise"? Were you citizen?

As this is written, early voting is under way. What will be the story we share on November 9th, and beyond? What have we, as citizen, determined to be the foundations of our nation's future history? Will democracy be preserved, or have we chosen to allow our land to slide over the abyss, not into war, but into Hell itself? How shall we answer the world, and the ages?

That will be decided one of two ways. Either citizen will show up, and show off, or citizen will not. There is no other possible conclusion to this most important election in 2014. We hope we have explained why we hold this conviction. We hope you have become sufficiently informed, and we now look to you to share with us YOUR reasoning, and YOUR actions.


The Tennessee Progressive

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One Series Ends; Another Series Begins

It has taken PPTS 28 weeks to present a 24 week series we call "The War On The Poor". During this series, we looked at eight principle battlefields upon which this war is currently being waged. Having now looked, in three week "chunks" at each of the eight battlefields, we have completed the research, but have not yet determined any useful conclusions, talking points, or action plans for this war. We will, but we want you, the progressive soldier to have some time to consider how this information can be of the best use to you in your cause, where you live. That got the team talking.

Without "finalizing" and putting to bed this issue, one we obviously believe to be singularly important to us, because we do absolutely believe it to be of the greatest importance to you, our conversations have turned to what many would believe to be the next important question:

How do we use this information to determine our future actions? How can we implement a determined strategy in time to have the impact we wish on the November, 2014 elections? Who should lead us? How should we communicate with those leaders effectively, in a timely manner so as to create the opposition against our adversaries? What would victory look like?

It was that last question that had a bunch of people looking squarely into my face, as if I should, somehow not only be able, but willing to forcefully and passionately discourse on THE answer. Hundreds of pairs of eyes, mind you, from across the nation are looking at me like I'm somehow the Shell Answer Man.

I gave that job up some long time ago now. Having had the position for more than four decades, I felt that I had done my part; that it was well time for someone else to pick up the ball and run with it, as it were. The trouble was that I did have a few answers. I thought they were good ones. I want(ed) to put them out for consideration. (Note the sliding transition?) I think they should be considered; moreover I believe they are such correct answers that they should be immediately employed across our nation, right now.

Where are we going, as a nation? That's a huge question. While not necessarily the answer many would accept in 2014, I do happen to be a bit of an historian by nature and education. If you want to truly understand the nature of a thing, look at the people involved in, subject to, or affected by that thing. In 24 recorded 2-hour events, PPTS has done just that. But, there lies at the heart of our nation today a much more, I would contend, fundamental question than our show's mantra of "What are YOU going to do about it?"

In our latest show, we begin to search for not merely a functional or useful answer to this question, but one which compels us, as citizen, to act. That is, after all, the Progressive way. (It's available for you here, on the right sidebar under our "Current" shows listing.

In the coming weeks we will look both to history AND current affairs to come to some fundamental conclusions about the answer to this question. Through our staff research and (hopefully) yours, we should have some civil discourse  about the answer to this new question. In fairness, this question is not new. It has been answered on several occasions before, in (and before) our history as a nation.  We'll use that historicity to look at some potential answers to this notion of where we are, or at least where we should, as citizen, be leading our nation into the decades and centuries ahead.

My contention is that we do have the opportunity to reevaluate the conditions which led to previous answers, so we can understand how to make current decisions that will make those answers better for us as citizen. This is neither easy, or easily dismissive work. Yet, in my view it is the most immediate and necessary work citizen can do for our nation, and for our democratic republic. We do stand to lose both. The fact that you do not fully appreciate the truth of that statement so alarms me that I am putting the resources available to me into full use. This isn't play time, and the work required is absolutely NOT for the feint of heart, or for the "sunshine patriot".

I hope you will join us for these next weeks as we hear from history as we ask, and answer this most compelling question of our time.


The Tennessee Progressive

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.