All Activism Opportunities

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE: Minnesota’s Battleground Races!

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th. (Quick links at bottom of the page)

    The primaries are over, the candidates are set and now it’s time to focus on the big picture fight. Everything we do between now and election day should be done while keeping the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among us in mind.

    We’ve included links to volunteer resources in the show notes, as well as those for Swing Left and the Democratic Party’s Red to Blue program for the races we’ll be mentioning today so you know how to help. You can also view all of our spotlight segments and every battleground race at THE MIDTERMS MINUTE H.Q..

    Today, we’re talking about the battleground races in Minnesota. Although Clinton won Minnesota, it was only by 1.5 percent. With the highest voter turnout in the country, it was the closest Presidential election in the state since 1984 and the first time the state had ever voted more Republican than the national average. There are only eight districts in Minnesota, but five of them are battlegrounds this year, making it one of the five states that will decide the majority in the House.

    U.S. SENATE: But Minnesota also has a hotly contested Senate race this year to fill Al Franken’s seat. Lieutenant Governor and Democrat Tina Smith was appointed to fill the vacancy when Franken stepped down after misconduct allegations. Smith will now face Republican Karen Housley in a special election this November. The Cook Political Report has rated this race as leaning Democratic.

    U.S. HOUSE

    MN-01: In Minnesota’s first district, Democrat Tim Walz is not seeking re-election because he is running for Governor. Now, former Obama administration official and Democrat Dan Feehan will be facing Republican Jim Hagedorn, who is working hard to scare voters by calling Feehan a “radical leftist” for “socialized medicine.” Obama won here by 2 points in 2012, but Trump surged to win by 15 points in 2016. The Republicans are targeting this district and the race is considered a toss up. HELP KEEP MN-01!

    MN-02: In Minnesota’s second district, Democrat Angie Craig faces freshman Republican incumbent Jason Lewis for the second time. The two faced each other in the 2016 election in which Lewis won by just 2 percentage points. Lewis has been called out for sexist and racist statements made on his radio show in 2012, but excused them by saying it was his job to be provocative. The district is extremely competitive, since Obama just barely won here in 2012 and Trump just barely won here in 2016. So it’s no surprise this race is rated as a toss up. HELP FLIP MN-02!

    MN-03: In Minnesota’s third district, Businessman and Democrat Dean Phillips is facing Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen. Phillips has been endorsed by End Citizens United, while Paulsen has the support of Paul Ryan. Misleading GOP-funded attack ads are trying to paint Phillips as a hypocrite on healthcare despite reality. Clinton won this district by 10 points and it is currently rated as a toss up. HELP FLIP MN-03!

    MN-08: In Minnesota’s eighth district, Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan is not seeking re-election. Democrat and former state Rep. Joe Radinovich faces St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber. In a recent New York Times poll, the race was neck-in-neck with Radinovich up by one percent. The GOP is also throwing big money at this race since Trump won the district. The race is currently rated a toss up. HELP KEEP MN-08!

    GOV: And finally, the race for Governor of Minnesota is also neck-in-neck for a seat last held by a Democrat. Democrat and former 1st district Rep. Tim Walz is facing Republican Jeff Johnson, who has been endorsed by Trump. In the previous ten gubernatorial elections in Minnesota, six have resulted in the seat changing party hands. This race is currently rated as leaning Democratic. HELP ELECT GOVERNOR WALZ!

    IMPORTANT DATES: If you want to vote in the Minnesota Midterm Elections your online and paper registration must be received by Tuesday, October 16th. Minnesota does offer election day registration and voting, but if you don’t have to wait…don’t. Absentee ballot requests should be made by Monday, November 5th and completed ballots must be received by election day, November 6th.

    It’s never too early to check registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates in your own state. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s important dates and voter ID laws at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in the general election.

    So, if making the Blue Wave a reality in November is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting Democrats in battleground races across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Quick Links)

    REGISTER TO VOTE: RocktheVote.org/register-to-vote/

    CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: RocktheVote.org/resources/am-i-registered-to-vote/

    CHECK VOTING DATES & POLICIES: RocktheVote.org/voting-information/

    VOTER ID INFO/HELP: VoteRiders & 866ourvote.org

    Get Involved:

    Swing Left (Help flip districts from anywhere) 

    Red to Blue (DCCC program to flip seats) 

    When We All Vote (Michelle Obama’s initiative) 

    Voter Circle (friend-to-friend outreach tool) 

    Vote Forward (mail letters to unlikely voters)

    Volunteer for Democrats 

    Abroad? Phone bank for Democrats  

    Let America Vote (voting rights focus) 

    Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”

    Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer 

    National Democratic Redistricting Committee 

    Easily donate to candidates with DownTicket.com on your mobile browser. 

    “15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge) 

    MINNESOTA BATTLEGROUNDS:

    Minnesota DFL

    Important Dates: If you want to vote in the Minnesota Midterm Elections your online and paper registration must be received by October 16th. Minnesota does offer election day registration and voting, but if you don’t have to wait…don’t. Absentee ballot requests should be made by Monday, November 5th and completed ballots must be received by election day, November 6th. *More MN voting details*

    U.S. SENATE 

    Must Retain Seat: Tina Smith (D - incumbent)

    U.S. HOUSE

    MN-01: Dan Feehan 

    Swing Left MN-01 | Red to Blue MN-01

    MN-02: Angie Craig 

    Swing Left MN-02Red to Blue MN-02

    MN-03: Dean Phillips 

    Swing Left MN-03Red to Blue MN-03

    MN-08: Joe Radinovich 

    Swing Left MN-08Red to Blue MN-08

    GOVERNOR:

    GOV: Tim Walz (D) 

     

    Posted September 21, 2018; Researched & Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1212: Feudalism with Dinner (Our Culture of Tipping)

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE: Florida’s Battleground Races!

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th. (Quick links at bottom of page)

    The primaries are over, the candidates are set and now it’s time to focus on the big picture fight. Everything we do between now and election day should be done while keeping the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among us in mind.

    We’ve included volunteer links and resources in the show notes, including the specific Swing Left and the Democratic Party’s Red to Blue pages for the races we’ll be mentioning today so that you know how to help. You can also view all of our spotlight segments and every battleground race at THE MIDTERMS MINUTE H.Q..

    Today, we’re talking about the battleground races in Florida, where the lead up to the midterms is already proving to be brutal. Trump only won Florida by 1.2% and the state includes four “pivot counties” - counties that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but went for Trump in 2016. Democrats are counting on some "Trump Regret" votes this November.

    U.S. SENATE: In the Senate, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is facing Republican and Florida Governor Rick Scott. Although Nelson won his second term by 13 points in 2012, this race is considered a battleground and currently rated a toss up. As a reminder, the Democrats must retain all ten battleground Senate seats and pick up two additional seats from Republicans to take the Senate.

    Moving on now to the House races.

    FL-15:  Florida’s 15th district is an open seat race, after Republican incumbent Dennis Ross did not seek re-election. Democrat and attorney Kristen Carlson is facing Republican and state Rep. Ross Spano. The latest poll shows the two candidates in a tight race, with Carlson narrowly leading. Trump won this district and it is currently rated as leaning Republican. HELP FLIP FL-15!

    FL-16: In Florida’s 16th district, Democrat David Shapiro will face Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan. Trump won here by a slim margin. Before the primaries were over, Buchanan was already running attack ads against Shapiro about his questionable investments. And while they do raise questions that Shapiro should answer, Buchanan’s horrifying voting record and large campaign contributions from the gun lobby, oil industry, and pharmaceutical industry are more concerning. This race is currently rated as leaning Republican. HELP FLIP FL-16!

    FL-18: In Florida’s 18th district, Democrat Lauren Baer, a former U.S. State Department advisor under Obama, is facing Republican incumbent Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. The race is drawing national attention. Trump won this district by a slim margin and it is currently rated as leaning Republican. HELP FLIP FL-18!

    FL-26: In Florida’s 26th district, which includes Miami, Democrat and Ecuadorian immigrant Debbie Mucarsel-Powell won her primary. She will now face Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo, who is currently running ads portraying himself as a champion of Dreamers, while simultaneously making excuses for Trump’s family separation at the border. Even though Curbelo won re-election in 2014 by 12 points, this district went blue in both of the last two presidential elections, with Clinton winning by 16 points. The two candidates are currently neck-in-neck in the polls, but the latest Cook Political Report rating has moved this race from a toss up to leaning Republican. HELP FLIP FL-26!

    FL-27: Florida’s 27th is an open seat race after Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinenn, who was first elected in 1988, announced she was not seeking re-election. Former Health and Human Services Secretary, Democrat Donna Shalala, is now facing a three-way race between Republican and broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Salazar and Independent Mayra Joli. Clinton won this district and the New York Times has called this race Democrats best pickup opportunity in the country. The race currently rated as leaning Democratic. HELP FLIP FL-27!

    GOV: And finally, in a thrilling upset, Bernie Sanders-endorsed, and Tallahassee Mayor, Andrew Gillum, won the Democratic primary for Governor in Florida. If he wins in November, Gillum will be the first black Governor of Florida, a state with one of the largest African American populations in the country. Now, he faces Republican and former Rep. Ron DeSantis, who the day after the primary began lobbing very audible, racist dog whistles. After calling Gillum “articulate,” DeSantis went on to say, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” The race is rated as a toss up. HELP ELECT GOV. GILLUM!

    IMPORTANT DATES: To vote in the Florida Midterm Elections, you need to be registered to vote by Tuesday, October 9th. For most counties in Florida, absentee ballot requests must be made in person six days before election day. Some counties allow you to order the ballot online. All absentee ballots must be received by 7pm on election day. Early voting begins October 27th and ends November 3rd.

    It’s never too early to check registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates in your own state. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s important dates and voter ID laws at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in the general election.

    So, if making the Blue Wave a reality in November is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting Democrats in battleground races across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE:

    REGISTER TO VOTE: RocktheVote.org/register-to-vote/

    CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: RocktheVote.org/resources/am-i-registered-to-vote/

    CHECK VOTING DATES & POLICIES: RocktheVote.org/voting-information/

    VOTER ID INFO/HELP: VoteRiders & 866ourvote.org

    Get Involved:

    Swing Left (Help flip districts from anywhere) 

    Red to Blue (DCCC program to flip seats) 

    When We All Vote (Michelle Obama’s initiative) 

    Voter Circle (friend-to-friend outreach tool) 

    Vote Forward (mail letters to unlikely voters)

    Volunteer for Democrats 

    Abroad? Phone bank for Democrats  

    Let America Vote (voting rights focus) 

    Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”

    Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer 

    National Democratic Redistricting Committee 

    Easily donate to candidates with DownTicket.com on your mobile browser. 

    “15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge) 

    FLORIDA'S BATTLEGROUNDS:

    Florida Democratic Party

    Important Dates: Must be registered by Tuesday, Oct. 9th. Most absentee ballot requests must be made in person 6 days before election day (some counties online). Absentee ballots must be received by 7pm on election day. Early voting begins Oct. 27th-Nov. 3rd. *More details on voting in Florida*

    U.S. SENATE 

    Must Retain Seat: Bill Nelson (D - incumbent)

    U.S. HOUSE

    FL-15: Kristen Carlson 

    Swing Left FL-15 

    FL-16: David Shapiro 

    Red to Blue FL-16

    FL-18: Lauren Baer 

    Swing Left FL-18 | Red to Blue FL-18

    FL-26: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell 

    Swing Left FL-26 | Red to Blue FL-26

    FL-27: Donna Shalala 

    (No Swing Left or Red to Blue page available for FL-27)

    GOVERNOR:

    GOV: Andrew Gillum 

    Sources: Ballotpedia; NBC News; Swing Left

     

    Posted September 18, 2018; Researched & Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1211: Corporate Monopoly and Political Power 

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE: Pennsylvania’s Battleground Races!

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.

    The primaries are over, the candidates are set and now it’s time to focus on the big picture. Democrats across the country, spanning the left side of the political spectrum, need to win and they need to win big in many cases to overcome gerrymandering. Everything we do between now and election day should be done while keeping the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among us in mind.

    So if you haven’t yet, take a moment today to figure out how you are going to make a difference in these historic and critical midterm elections. We’ve included volunteer links and resources in the notes at the bottom of the page, including the specific Swing Left and the Democratic Party's Red to Blue pages for the districts we’ll be mentioning today.

    Right up until election day, we are going to be highlighting the battleground races for the U.S. Senate, House and governorships, so that you know where your help and donations are needed most. You can also view all of our spotlight segments and every battleground race at THE MIDTERMS MINUTE H.Q..

    PENNSYLVANIA BATTLEGROUNDS

    Today, we’re talking about Pennsylvania, where the district lines were actually redrawn in February after the state’s supreme court ruled that they were illegally partisan. This was a huge win against gerrymandering and the new map gives Democrats a much better chance at picking up critical House seats in November. Pennsylvania is also one of five states with the biggest impact on the House majority and has a number of open seat races where incumbents aren’t seeking re-election. Incumbents are tough to beat, so this is more good news in a swingy state.

    U.S. HOUSE:

    PA-01 - In Pennsylvania’s 1st district, philanthropist Democrat Scott Wallace is facing semi-moderate Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick, who has landed labor union endorsements. This district includes Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia where Clinton won by just one point. The race is currently rated by The Cook Political Report as leaning Republican.

    PA-05 - Pennsylvania’s 5th district is one of those Republican open seat districts where Clinton won. Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon faces Republican nominee Pearl Kim in November. As of right now, this new 5th district seat is rated as likely going to the Democrat. These candidates are simultaneously squaring off in a special election for the state’s old 7th district after Pat Meehan resigned over sexual harassment allegations.

    PA-06 - Pennsylvania’s 6th district also has an empty formerly Republican seat. Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is facing Republican Greg McCauley. Clinton won here by more than 9% and the race is currently rated as likely Democratic.

    PA-07 - Pennsylvania’s 7th district is the third open seat battleground race in the state. Democrat Susan Wild is facing Republican Marty Nothstein, who was recently accused of sexual misconduct. Clinton squeaked by with a win here and the race is currently rated as leaning toward the Democrat.

    Pennsylvania is also home to two battleground districts where Trump won, but Democrats have a shot.

    PA-17 - Democrat Connor Lamb won the special election for the Pennsylvania’s old 18th district in March by just 600 votes. But after the court’s redistricting, Lamb is now running to win in Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 17th district. His opponent, Republican Keith Rothfus, is also an incumbent from a redrawn district. Trump only won here by 2.6 percentage points and most ratings consider this race a toss up.

    PA-16 - In Pennsylvania’s 16th district Democrat Ron DiNicola is facing Republican incumbent Mike Kelly. Trump won this district by 20 points, but Romney only won here by 5 points in 2012, which is why the race is rated as just likely Republican. It’ll be tough, but a win is possible.

    U.S. SENATE & GOVERNOR:

    And finally, it’s worth noting that Pennsylvania Democratic incumbent Senator Bob Casey is up for his third term in November and has drawn the ire of Trump. His opponent is Republican Rep. Lou Barletta, who was on Trump’s transition team and whose voting record is a horror show. Pennsylvania’s Democratic incumbent Governor Tom Wolf is also up for re-election this year and his Trumpian opponent is thankfully a long shot. Both Wolf and Casey should be safe, but I think we’ve all learned by now to take nothing for granted.

    IMPORTANT DATES: To vote in the Pennsylvania Midterm Elections, you need to be registered to vote by October 9th. Absentee ballot requests must be made by October 30th and ballots must be received by November 2nd. Early voting is NOT available in Pennsylvania.

    As for your own state, it’s never too early to check registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s important dates and voter ID laws at rock the vote dot org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in the general election.

    So, if making the Blue Wave a reality in November is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting Democrats in battleground races across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Quick Links):

    REGISTER TO VOTE: RocktheVote.org/register-to-vote/

    CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: RocktheVote.org/resources/am-i-registered-to-vote/

    CHECK VOTING DATES & POLICIES: RocktheVote.org/voting-information/

    VOTER ID INFO/HELP: VoteRiders & 866ourvote.org

    Get Involved:

    Swing Left (Help flip districts from anywhere) 

    Red to Blue (DCCC program to flip seats) 

    When We All Vote (Michelle Obama’s initiative) 

    Voter Circle (friend-to-friend outreach tool) 

    Vote Forward (mail letters to unlikely voters)

    Volunteer for Democrats 

    Abroad? Phone bank for Democrats  

    Let America Vote (voting rights focus) 

    Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”

    Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer 

    National Democratic Redistricting Committee 

    Easily donate to candidates with DownTicket.com on your mobile browser. 

    “15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge) 

    PENNSYLVANIA BATTLEGROUNDS:

    Pennsylvania Democratic Party

    Important Dates: Must be registered to vote by October 9th. Absentee ballot requests made by October 30th and received by November 2nd. Early voting NOT available.

    U.S. HOUSE

    PA-01 - Scott Wallace 

    Swing Left PA-01  |  Red to Blue PA-01

    PA-05 - Mary Gay Scanlon 

    (no Swing Left or Red to Blue page)

    PA-06 - Chrissy Houlahan 

    Swing Left PA-06  |  Red to Blue PA-06

    PA-07 - Susan Wild 

    Swing Left PA-07  |  Red to Blue PA-07

    PA-17 - Connor Lamb 

    Swing Left PA-17

    PA-16 - Ron DiNicola 

    Red to Blue PA-16

    “SAFE” BUT MUST RETAIN:

    U.S. SENATE - Bob Casey (D - incumbent)

    GOVERNOR - Tom Wolf (D - incumbent) 

    FURTHER PA MIDTERMS READING:

    What Pennsylvania’s new congressional map means for 2018 (Vox)

    These 6 Pennsylvania Democratic nominees are key to the battle for House control (Vox)

    5 States That Will Decide the House Majority (Roll Call)

    Pennsylvania voters prefer Democrats for Congress after choosing Trump in 2016: NBC/Marist poll (CNBC)

     

    Posted September 14, 2018; Researched & Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1210: Brett Kavanaugh and the Imperial Presidency (Supreme Court)

     

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE: California’s Battleground Races!

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.

    This is it folks. The 2018 Midterm Elections are almost here and the outcome will change our country for decades to come. And with that weight on our shoulders, let’s take a minute to remind ourselves of something: The primaries are over. The candidates are set, and we can feel good knowing that many new progressive faces are among them. The disagreements and in-fighting amongst the left will always be there, but right now, we have to focus on the bigger picture.

    Now is the time to volunteer, get out the vote, canvass, call, text and email while keeping the most vulnerable among us in mind, especially those who face Republican imposed barriers to casting their vote on election day. Democrats across the country, spanning the left side of the political spectrum, need to win and they need to win big to overcome gerrymandering. There is just no other way to look at this.

    So take a moment today to figure out how you are going to make a difference in these historic and critical midterm elections. Whether it is helping people get registered, volunteering to drive people to the polls, helping someone get the necessary form of ID, canvassing and calling on behalf of candidates, or all of the above. We all have a role to play and I know none of us want to wake up on November 7th and feel like we should have done more.

    For the next two months, in every show, we are going to highlight the battleground races in the U.S. Senate and House so that you know where your help and donations are needed most. You can also view all of our spotlight segments and every battleground race at THE MIDTERMS MINUTE H.Q..

    We’re starting with CALIFORNIA where there is actually still one race impacting the heart of the Democratic party.

    U.S. SENATE: The way California’s elections work, Senator Diane Feinstein is facing a fellow Democrat this November. Kevin de Leon is a State Senator who is laser-focused on Medicare for All and tried to get it through the state Senate. Feinstein opposed it. In a surprise twist, De Leon is the one who secured the California Democratic Party endorsement.

    U.S. HOUSE: As for U.S. House seats, there are six California districts with Republican incumbents where Clinton won in 2016. Two of those are open seats. They are all considered battleground districts, with four considered toss up races according to the Cook Rating.

    CA-10th - In California’s 10th district, Democrat Josh Harder is facing Republican incumbent Jeff Denham. This is a diverse district and the race is being called a toss up. The Latino voter turnout, which usually plummets in midterm elections, is critical here.

    CA-25th - In California’s 25th district, Democrat Katie Hill is facing Republican incumbent Steve Knight. This race is also considered a toss up and Latino voter turnout here is again key.

    CA-39th - In California’s 39th district, which includes Orange County and part of Los Angeles, a long time Republican incumbent is not running for re-election. The Democrat in this race is Gil Cisneros and he faces Republican Young Kim. This race is considered a toss up, but the demographics have shifted dramatically in this district, meaning conservative Orange County may not carry as much weight this time around.

    CA-45th - In California’s 45th district, Democrat Katie Porter is facing Republican incumbent Mimi Walters. This is a white collar suburban district and this race is currently rated as leaning Republican.

    CA-48th - In California’s 48th district, Democrat Harley Rouda is facing Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher. This district is also considered white collar suburban, but this House race is considered a toss up.

    CA-49th - In California’s 49th district, Democrat Mike Levin will be facing Republican Diane Harkey in November. The district is currently leaning Democratic.

    Again, all of these Republican-held districts were won by Clinton in 2016 so they are obviously winnable with the right organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts.

    IMPORTANT DATES: To vote in the California Midterm Elections, you need to be registered to vote online, or have your physical application postmarked by, Monday October 22nd. Absentee ballot requests must be received by October 30th. Early voting dates vary by locality.

    As for your own state, it’s never too early to check registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s important dates and voter ID laws at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in the general election.

    So, if making the Blue Wave a reality in November is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting Democrats in battleground races across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Quick Links)

    REGISTER TO VOTE: RocktheVote.org/register-to-vote/

    CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: RocktheVote.org/resources/am-i-registered-to-vote/

    CHECK VOTING DATES & POLICIES: RocktheVote.org/voting-information/

    VOTER ID INFO/HELP: VoteRiders & 866ourvote.org

    GET INVOLVED:

    Swing Left (Help flip districts from anywhere) 

    Red to Blue (DCCC program to flip seats) 

    When We All Vote (Michelle Obama’s initiative) 

    Voter Circle (friend-to-friend outreach tool) 

    Vote Forward (mail letters to unlikely voters)

    Volunteer for Democrats 

    Abroad? Phone bank for Democrats  

    Let America Vote (voting rights focus) 

    Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”

    Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer 

    National Democratic Redistricting Committee 

    Easily donate to candidates with DownTicket.com on your mobile browser. 

    “15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge) 

    CALIFORNIA BATTLEGROUNDS (Note: List may vary by org or outlet):

    Important Dates: Must be registered/post marked by October 22nd (more info)

    Local Action: California Democratic Party https://www.cadem.org/take-action

    Push Left! U.S. Senate - Kevin de Leon (D Safe Seat)

    Flip CA-10th: Josh Harder 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-10

    Flip CA-25th: Katie Hill 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-25

    Flip CA-39th: Gil Cisneros 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-39

    Flip CA-45th: Katie Porter 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-45

    Flip CA-48th: Harley Rouda 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-48

    Flip CA-49th: Mike Levin 

    Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/district/CA-49

    Sources: Ballotpedia; NBC News; Swing Left

     

     

    Posted August 31, 2018; Researched & Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1209: Being part of the solution (How to argue your values)

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Primaries): Support Progressives in New Hampshire on 9/11 and Rhode Island on 9/12

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.

    With the exception of Louisiana, the Senate and House candidates for the Midterms are nearly set. We want to remind you that the Massachusetts primary is coming up on September 4th and Delaware primary is on September 6th. If you missed our spotlights on those states, head to best of the left dot com slash activism.

    You can still make a difference by getting involved, no matter what state you live in. Both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress offer Get Out the Vote online calling and texting tools, with scripts on individual candidates, allowing you to talk to voters from the comfort of home. This is a great way to make a real impact. 

    Today, we’re going to talk about New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

    SEPTEMBER 11TH

    NEW HAMPSHIRE (Reg. Deadlines: Primary & General: Same day registration & voting (*see details); NO online registration)

    1st District: Brand New Congress candidate and New Hampshire state representative, Mindi Messemer, is running for congress in a Democratic primary field of 11 candidates. She’s one of only two candidates not taking special interest or PAC money. A former environmental scientist, her whistleblowing on cancer-causing water contamination from a landfill in her community and the difficult fight to address it lead her to run for State Rep. New Hampshire’s 1st district is known as a district that constantly swings and Trump only won the district by less than 2 percentage points. On the Republican side, two candidates are spending way more than they are taking in while duking it out over which one of them is the “Trumpiest.”

    Governor: New Hampshire’s Republican Chris Sununu is up for re-election this year. The Democrats vying to run against him in November are State Rep Molly Kelly and Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand. Both are focusing on Sununu’s hindering of the sate’s renewable energy industry. Neither Kelly nor Marchand are championing Medicare for All, but Kelly says health care is a right while healthcare is not an issue listed on Marchand’s website. Both are opposed to a major hydro project and natural gas pipeline project proposed in the state.

    Important Dates: New Hampshire voting is sadly restrictive. Unregistered voters can theoretically register in person and vote on primary day, but details vary by locality and required documents and voter ID laws apply. If you want to be registered before primary day, your physical registration form must be received 10 days head of the election since online voter registration is not available. We’ve included a link to a list of contact information for all New Hampshire Local Election Offices in the show notes for your convenience. If you plan to vote in the general, don’t wait to start this process.

    SEPTEMBER 12TH

    RHODE ISLAND (Reg. Deadlines: Primary: August 13th / General: Oct 9th)

    Governor: In the race for governor of Rhode Island, Justice Democrat and former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown is running to take the nomination away from the Democratic incumbent Gina Raimondo. Brown has entered the race to roll back Raimondo’s restrictions on abortion, end her corporate giveaways at the expense of locals, fight for Medicare for All, and build a sustainable local renewable energy economy. Brown is also co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize nominated organization Global Zero, which works to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons.

    Lieutenant Governor: As for Lieutenant Governor, Justice Democrat Aaron Regunberg is hoping to knock out incumbent Democrat Daniel McKee. Regunberg has endorsements from Rhode Island chapters of Our Revolution. Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, Clean Water Action, and many more.

    Important Dates: The voter registration deadline to participate in the Rhode Island primary was August 13th. The deadline to vote in the general election is October 9th.

    We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.

    So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE:

    *Reminder! Massachusetts on 9/4 & Delaware on 9/6*

    Check on candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats | Brand New Congress | DSA | Latino Victory | Our Revolution

    PHONE BANK with Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”  & Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer & Voter Circle

    Check your state registration deadlines and voter ID laws with rockthevote.org

    For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out DownTicket.com on your mobile browser.

    15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)

    SEPT. 11TH - NEW HAMPSHIRE

    NH Voter Info from Rock the Vote

    List of NH Election Offices

    1st district: Mindi Messemer 

    Governor: Molly Kelly vs. Steve Marchand  (Further Reading: NHPR | Concord Monitor)

    SEPT. 12TH - RHODE ISLAND

    RI Voter Info from Rock the Vote

    Governor: Matt Brown 

    Lt. Governor: Aaron Regunberg 

     

    Posted August 31, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1206: The war on journalism, truth and democracy itself

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Primaries): Support Progressives in Massachusetts on 9/4 and Delaware on 9/6

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.

    We want to remind you that primaries in Arizona and Florida are right around the corner on August 28th. If you missed our spotlights on those states, head to our Activism portal or click the link in the previous sentence.

    You can make a difference in all remaining primaries by getting involved, no matter what state you live in. Both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress offer Get Out the Vote online calling and texting tools, with scripts on individual candidates, allowing you to talk to voters from the comfort of home. This is a great way to make a real impact. 

    Today, we’re going to talk about Massachusetts, which holds its primary on September 4th, and Delaware, which will hold its primary two days later on September 6th.

    SEPTEMBER 4TH

    MASSACHUSETTS (Reg. Deadlines: Primaries - August 15th/ General - October 17th)

    3rd District: There is an extremely crowded field of Democrats in Massachusetts’ 3rd District, where Justice Democrat and Latino Victory candidate Juana Matias is running for congress. With the incumbent retiring, this is the first contested Democratic primary for the seat since 1994. Matias is currently a state representative and is running a grass roots campaign against establishment candidates with big money behind them.

    7th District: In Massachusetts’ 7th District, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is a Justice Democrat making waves. She is primarying incumbent Michael Capuano who, to be fair, is a life-long champion of progressive policies before they were mainstream and has held this House seat since 1998. Though they both believe in progressive ideals, the two have very different approaches to solutions and identifying root causes. A video of Pressley, who is black, in which she shares her thoughts on identity politics and representation during a recent debate, has gone viral. According to the Boston Globe, the 7th district is one of the most diverse and economically unequal in the state.

    Governor: When it comes to Governor, Massachusetts is one of those deep blue states that more often than not votes in a moderate Republican. Mitt Romney wasn’t the only one. Current Governor Charlie Baker is another moderate Republican up for reelection this year and he’s popular because he doesn’t often rock the boat with Democrats. But although he says he accepts climate science, he’s a big proponent of new fossil-fuel infrastructure. The people of Massachusetts have better options this year. One of them is Democrat Bob Massie, a lifelong national healthcare system advocate and climate activist who founded both the New Economy Coalition and the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston. He recently received the endorsement of Our Revolution and Massachusetts Peace Action.

    Important Dates: To participate in the Massachusetts primary on September 6th, you must have been registered to vote by August 15th. Absentee ballot requests must be received by August 31st and ballots must be received by September 4th. If you aren’t registered yet, make sure you are registered by October 17th to participate in the general.

    September 6TH

    DELAWARE (Reg. Deadlines: Primaries - August 11th / General - October 13th)

    U.S. Senate: The Senate race in Delaware is a stark example of establishment vs. bold new progressive blood. Friend of big banks and incumbent Senator Tom Carper has held political office of some kind in Delaware since 1976, and he’s got an endorsement from Joe Biden. His primary opponent is Kerri Evelyn Harris, a Justice Democrat and and veteran with backing from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Harris is running a low budget campaign funded by the people and is working hard to expose the myth that making corporations happy is good for the people. If she wins in November, she would be the first woman, first African-American, and first openly LGBT candidate to be a U.S. Senator for Delaware.

    Important Dates: To participate in the Delaware primary on September 4th, you must have been registered to vote by  August 11th. Absentee ballots must be requested by September 5th at noon and ballots must be received by September 6th at 8pm. If you aren’t registered, make sure you register by October 13th to vote in the general.

    We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.

    So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Quick links!)

    Check on candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats | Brand New Congress | DSA | Latino Victory | Our Revolution

    Phone bank with Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”  & Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer

    Check your state registration deadlines and voter ID laws with rockthevote.org

    For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out DownTicket.com on your mobile browser.

    15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)

    SEPT. 4TH

    MASSACHUSETTS (Reg. Deadlines: Primaries - August 15th/ General - October 17th)

    3rd District: Juana Matias

    7th District: Ayanna Pressley (Further reading)

    Governor: Bob Massie (Voter Circle) (Further reading)

    SEPT. 6TH

    DELAWARE (Reg. Deadlines: Primaries - August 11th / General - October 13th)

    Senate: Kerri Evelyn Harris (Further reading)

     

    Posted August 25, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1204: The past, present and future of international trade

     

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Primaries): Support Progressives in Alaska and Wyoming on 8/21

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngThe Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.

    As we produced this episode, primaries wrapped up in four states where, altogether, thirteen Justice Democrats were vying for congressional and gubernatorial nominations. If you’re kicking yourself because you wish you’d taken more action to support progressive and liberal candidates in those primaries, time to double down.

    Hawaii’s primary is August 11th and primaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont are on August 14th. Check out the links to our previous spotlights on the races in these states and then, whatever state you live in, take action. Both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress offer Get Out the Vote online calling and texting tools, with scripts on individual candidates, allowing you to talk to primary voters from wherever you are. This is a great way to make a real impact. 

    Today, we’re going to talk about Alaska and Wyoming which both have primaries coming up on August 21st. Although these are states where Democrats, let alone progressives, don’t often thrive, there are a few candidates trying to change that this year.

    AUGUST 21st PRIMARIES:

    ALASKA

    Governor: Alaska’s current governor, former Republican and current Independent, Bill Walker, and his Democrat Lieutenant Governor are up for reelection this year. But former Senator Mark Begich, a solid Democrat, threw his hat in the ring, causing Walker to run as a petition candidate. This has created a three way race that could divide left-leaning voters and so things may get very ugly as Begich and Walker each try to knock each other out. In July, the expected Republican candidate had a 5 point lead on Walker. Begich has the voting record of a relative moderate, but Walker was a former oil and gas lawyer with a long GOP history. Begich’s running mate is Debra Call, an Alaska Native and former executive of multiple Alaska Native organizations. Unfortunately, all candidates - on both sides - support the sale of drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As with every race for governor, the national importance is that whoever holds the office will be involved in the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 Census.

    U.S. House At Large: Alaska’s sole congressional seat is currently held by anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-LGBT Republican Don Young, the longest serving member of Congress. The two viable candidates running for the Democratic nomination are both political newcomers. Progressive Democrat Dimitri Shein supports Improved Medicare for All, investments in renewable energy and his campaign does not accept corporate PAC contributions. Independent Alyse Galvin is a public schools advocate who supports investments in renewable energy and believes responsible natural resource development is possible, though she opposes the Pebble Mine Project.

    Important Dates: Alaska Democrats have an open primary, but your registration must have been received by July 22nd to participate. Early voting is going on right now and we’ve included the link to the early voting locations in the show notes. Mailed ballot requests must be received by August 11th. Absentee ballots must be requested by August 20th and completed ballots must be received by August 31st.

    WYOMING

    We turn now to Republican controlled Wyoming, where, believe it or not, the state Democratic Party is feeling optimistic. A few state legislative seats appear likely to swing to the Democrats and others are at least plausible pick ups.

    Governor: Wyoming’s current Governor, Republican Matt Mead, has reached his term limit and six climate science-denying GOPers are in a tight primary race for the nomination. But there is a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary: former state representative, Mary Throne. She is the only candidate proposing the absolutely necessary tax increases to resolve Wyoming’s deficit after years of cuts by Mead. But unfortunately, she’s still pandering to Wyoming’s energy sector. Her opponents, Rex Wilde and Ken Casner, both lean more toward renewables. Wilde is advocating legalization of marijuana to increase tax revenue and tourism. Again, the national importance of governorships is that whoever holds the office will be involved in the state’s redistricting process in 2020.

    U.S. House At Large: Like Alaska, Wyoming has just one congressional seat for the whole state and its held by Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney. Cheney is up for reelection this year but facing two GOP primary opponents. The Democrats eyeing Cheney’s seat are Travis Helm and Greg Hunter. Hunter wants to expand Medicaid in the state in the short term and supports “Medicare for All” as the long term solution. But this guy is from Wyoming, so when it comes to guns, he only supports more stringent requirements for AR-15s, not any ban of any kind. Hunter used to be a Republican, but switched parties in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq. His opponent, Travis Helm, has a similar political transition story, supports a public, universal healthcare system and keeping public lands under federal control.

    Heads up! U.S. Senate: Wyoming’s Senate seat is also up for grabs this year, but Gary Trauner is the only Democratic candidate so he will move on to November. Six Republicans are running for the GOP nomination even though incumbent Republican John Barasso is running for reelection. So far, ninety-five percent of Barasso’s fundraising has come from outside the state.

    Important Dates: If you’re a Wyoming resident, your registration must have been received by August 6th to vote in the primary. However, Wyoming does offer election day registration and voting, so you have another chance. Absentee ballot requests must be requested by August 20th and completed ballots must be received by 7pm on August 21st.

    We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.

    To check out our previous Midterms Minutes segments, go to BestoftheLeft.com/activism.

    So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (QUICK LINKS):

    Check on candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats | Brand New Congress | DSA | Latino Victory | Our Revolution

    Phone bank with Justice Democrats “Justice Dialer”  & Brand New Congress GOTV Dialer

    Check your state registration deadlines and voter ID laws with rockthevote.org

    For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out DownTicket.com on your mobile browser.

    15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)

    August 21st Primaries:

    ALASKA (Reg. Deadlines: Primary: July 22nd / General: Oct. 7th)

    Early voting happening now! Find locations 

    Governor - Mark Begich and Dana Call

    U.S. House At Large - Dimitri Shein (Dem) vs. Alyse Galvin (Ind)

    WYOMING (Reg. Deadlines: Primary: Aug. 6th or day-of in-person / General: Oct. 22nd)

    Governor: Mary Throne  vs. Ken Casper vs. Rex Wilde

    U.S. House At Large - Greg Hunter vs. Travis Helm

    Heads up for Nov. 6th! U.S. Senate - Gary Trauner (uncontested in primary)

     

    Posted August 7, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1200: The Democratic autopsy and the progressive path forward

     

  • THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (Primaries): Support Progressives in Connecticut and Vermont (and MN and WI) on 8/14

    MIDTERMS_MINUTE_IMAGE_FINAL.pngWelcome to The Midterms Minute: a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th. (Quick links at bottom of the page.)

    In our last two segments, we spotlighted the Minnesota and Wisconsin primaries which are both happening on August 14th. If you missed those segments, check out our previous episodes or visit bestoftheleft.com/activism. Today, we’ll round out the August 14th primaries with spotlights on Connecticut and Vermont.

    AUGUST 14th: 

    CONNECTICUT (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Online, mail, or in person by Thurs. Aug 9th / General: Oct. 30th)

    Governor: There is a competitive Democratic primary for governor in Connecticut. Businessman Ned Lamont is the state Working Families Party choice and is running on criminal justice reform and a $15 minimum wage. His opponent is currently mayor of Bridgeport, but previously went to jail for seven years after being convicted of extortion and bribery while in office. Lamont is polling neck-and-neck with the expected Republican nominee. Politico has called this a race to watch, because, as you may recall, governors elected this year will be involved in their states’ redistricting process following the 2020 Census.

    5th District: Connecticut’s 5th district is another race where Republicans have a chance in November. And so, the Democratic primary has been heated. But Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, has grabbed national attention with her energy and inspiring life story. Unlike her opponent, she supports single-payer and has received endorsements that include the Working Families Party and AFL-CIO Connecticut. If she wins, she could become the first African American to represent the state. Connecticut’s Democratic Party establishment has expressed concern about her lack of political experience, but she was drafted to run and has a strong ally in Senator Chris Murphy.

    Important Dates: If you’re a Connecticut resident, your voter registration, whether online, mailed, or in-person, must be received by August 9th.

    VERMONT (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Early voting has begun. Must be registered by Aug. 14th / General: Nov. 6th)

    Representative At Large: Turning now to Vermont, Democratic incumbent Representative Peter Welch is facing a primary challenge for his congressional seat, which is the only House seat Vermont has. A few months ago, it came to light that Welch received campaign contributions and bought and sold stock from the very companies lobbying for the prescription drug bill he championed. Thank goodness Vermonters have a choice. Doctor and veteran Daniel Freilich is running a campaign primarily focused on campaign finance reform and anti-corruption that also includes medicare for all, a green revolution, and other progressive policies.

    Governor: Also in Vermont, Republican Phill Scot, a first term and well-liked governor, is up for reelection. As we’ve already mentioned, governorships are critical this year. In the Democratic primary there are two front runners. Christine Hellquist is the former CEO of the successful Vermont Electricity Cooperative. She’s running on a progressive platform, touting her leadership experience in utilities, and her campaign is the first ever in Vermont to organize a union contract with campaign staff. If she won in November, she would also be the first openly transgender governor in the country. Environmentalist, James Ehlers, is the other primary front runner. He’s also running on progressive policies, although the self-proclaimed “provocateur” has some strange tweets about unions and abortion in his past. He says his views have evolved since then and the AFL-CIO has endorsed him. It’s also worth noting that a 13 year old - Ethan Sonneborn - is another legitimate candidate in this primary race. Though he likely won’t win, he’s taking his campaign very seriously with a message that is all about inspiring young people to get politically engaged. 

    U.S. Senate: And finally, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, the most well-liked politician in the country, is facing two primary opponents. One is a self proclaimed “Clintonian” and “Obamacrat” who moved to Vermont after the 2016 presidential election with the specific goal of unseating Sanders. The other is a farmer running as an Independent with a focus on fighting climate change. He says he likes Bernie but is concerned that his focus is too national and that he’ll leave the office to run for president again in 2020.

    Important Dates: If you’re a Vermont resident, early voting has already begun and you must be registered by primary day, August 14th, to vote in the primaries.

    We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.

    So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    THE MIDTERMS MINUTE:

    Check on candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats | Brand New Congress | DSA | Latino Victory | Our Revolution

    Check your state registration deadlines and voter ID laws with rockthevote.org

    For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out DownTicket.com on your mobile browser.

    15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)

    August 14th Primaries:

    Connecticut (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Online, mail, or in person by Thurs. Aug 9th / General: Oct. 30th)

    Governor (Dem. Primary) - Ned Lamont

    5th District (Dem. Primary) - Jahana Hayes (Heads up! Republicans are vying for this seat in November.)

    Heads up! General Nov. 6th - U.S House - 2nd District - One large county in District 2 pivoted for Trump in 2016. Incumbent Dem. Joe Courtney will run against Republican Dan Postemski in the general.

    Vermont (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Early voting has begun. Must be registered by Aug. 14th / General: Nov. 6th)

    U.S. House (statewide Rep.) (Dem. Primary) - Daniel Freilich (Read about incumbent Pat Welch corruption)

    Governor - Christine Hallquist vs. James Ehlers vs. Ethan Sonneborn 

    U.S. Senate - Bernie Sanders 

    *Minnesota (Reg. Deadlines - Primaries: Online: July 24th, In person: Until August 14th / General: Oct. 9th) 

    *Read our MN spotlight*

    U.S. House - 5th District: Ilhan Omar 

    U.S. House - 8th District: Michelle Lee 

    U.S. Senate (Dem. Primary for Nov. Special Election) - Tina Smith 

    Governor (Dem. Primary) - Erin Murphy 

    *Wisconsin (Reg. Deadlines - Primary: Post-marked by July 25th, or in-person by Aug 10th / General: post-marked by Oct. 17th, in-person by Nov. 2nd)

    *Read our spotlight*

    U.S. House - 1st District: Randy Bryce vs. Cathy Myers

    Star Tribune Article on Bryce’s arrests & Bryce’s response 

    U.S. House - 4th District: Incumbent Gwen Moore will very likely win her primary.

    U.S. House - 7th District: Margaret Engebretson

    Governor: Tony Evers | Mike McCabe

    Heads Up! General Nov. 6th: U.S. Senate - Incumbent Tammy Baldwin is running for reelection in Nov. and facing $8.5 million in conservative money against her. 

     

    Posted July 24, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1198: All we have to fear is fear itself (Our Culture of Fear)

     

  • Build the Blue Wave: Confirm, Prepare & GOTV for Midterms 2018

    Blue_wave_vote_graphic.pngNovember is coming… and there has been a lot of talk about a so-called “blue wave” that I’m sure we’re already taking for granted. But we must keep reminding ourselves that the wave will not happen because we simply feel like it will. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take our free time and weekends. It’s going to take our limited patience and energy. And it is absolutely THE most important thing we will do in the Trump era.

    With a deluge of voter suppression laws in recent years, voting isn’t easy. It requires research and, depending on your situation, may require time sensitive actions ahead of election day. So here are your steps and resources for becoming a blue-wave-builder as we head into the midterm elections…

    1) Double, triple, maybe even quadruple, check that you are registered and on the voter rolls. Sadly, this is not just an action for people who have recently moved, this is for everyone. During the primaries there were multiple reports of long time residents heading to the polls only to find that they were not on the rolls. Those voters had to fill out provisional ballots. With the Supreme Court upholding Ohio’s purge of voter rolls if voters had skipped a few elections, every single one of us needs to be on guard when it comes to our voter registration status. Go to RocktheVote.org and under the “Resources” tab select “Voter Registration Lookup Tool.” Enter your information to confirm or check your voter registration for your current address. The results are almost instant. It’d be wise to check multiple times leading up to November 6th.

    2) Make sure you, and everyone you know, understands your state’s voter ID laws inside and out…and make time to make changes. Did your name change recently? If you live in a state with a voter ID law, you may need to get a new ID to ensure your name matches your voter registration. VoteRiders.org focuses entirely on helping people understand voter ID laws in their states and get what they need to vote. You can check out their voter ID info cards for each state on their website and/or call their hotline for help at 844-338-8743.

    3) Know your state’s cutoff date for voter registration and absentee ballot dates and rules. When it comes to registering, every state is different. Some let you register to vote the day before election day and other’s have registration cut offs months in advance. Some states’s require certain excuses to request an absentee ballot. Learn these rules for your state and be an evangelist for voting knowledge. Go to RocktheVote.org and under the “Get Ready to Vote” dropdown select “State Information.” There you will be able to easily find your state’s election dates and deadlines and other state-specific info.

    4) Help other people with steps 1, 2 and 3. Whether it’s an elderly family member or neighbor, or just a super busy parent you know, help educate people in your community on your state’s laws and encourage them to not only register, but confirm their voter registration and prepare for voter ID laws. Drive them to the town hall or the DMV if they need a ride, or offer to watch the kids while they go. Support each other in the name of democracy. And don’t forget to share the info social media too.

    5) And finally, join a get out the vote effort. There is so much on the line in this election and the results will impact the country for decades to come, especially the most vulnerable among us. We need people on the ground canvassing and registering voters EARLY. Find a local chapter of a Get Out the Vote effort like Rock The Vote and NextGen America, or GOTV arms of organizations like the ACLU (& check local chapters), the NAACP, NARAL, League of Women Voters, and Let America Vote.

    Together, we have the power to build a blue tsunami in November.

    So, if making sure the blue wave becomes a reality is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Build the Blue Wave: Confirm Voter Registration & Get Out the Vote for Midterms 2018 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    TAKE ACTION

    5 Steps & Resources to Build the “Blue Wave” for Midterms 2018:

    1. CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: rockthevote.org “Voter Registration Lookup Tool” 

    2. LEARN/SHARE VOTER ID LAWS: VoteRiders.org State Voter ID Law Info Cards  

    3. LEARN/SHARE CUTOFF DATES/DEADLINES: rockthevote.org State Information

    4. HELP OTHERS register, check registration, learn dates. Share information in person and on social media!

    5. JOIN A LOCAL REGISTRATION/GET OUT THE VOTE EFFORT:

    Rock The Vote | NextGen America | ACLU (& check local chapters) | NAACP | NARAL | League of Women Voters | Let America Vote 

     

    Posted June 29, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1193: Fighting for a representative democracy (Voting Rights and Gerrymandering) 

     

  • Divest from Nuclear Weapons Producers via @DontBankonBomb

    DBotB-banner-620x350.pngDon’t Bank on the Bomb is a regularly updated global report on the financing of nuclear weapons producers around the world. The report is produced by an organization from The Netherlands called PAX, which aims to bring together those who believe in peace and want to contribute to a just and peaceful world.

    The 2016 update of the report shows that 390 financial institutions from around the world invested 498 billion US dollars into just 27 companies involved in the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons since January 2013.

    Now, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that about 60% of those financial institutions are U.S. institutions and they’re responsible for 68% of the total global investment. And, of course, you’ll recognize some of their names. BlackRock, Capital Group, Vanguard, State Street, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase are the top 7 investors in the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons in the world.

    Whether you want to personally divest or put pressure on financial institutions to do so, head over to DontBankontheBomb.com and click the “Take Action” tab. There, you can tweet at your financial institution, download the organization’s Divestment Campaigner Guide, and get step by step guidance on how to personally divest from institutions supporting nuclear weapons.  Additional documents on engaging the public, media, government and financial institutions, as well as articles on the latest nuclear weapon news, are also available on the website.

    So, if stopping the further investment of nuclear weapons is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Divesting from Nuclear Weapons Producers via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    https://youtu.be/Fkipas4Oqdo

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Divest from financial institutions funding nuclear weapons production with DontBankontheBomb.com

    Get guidance on divesting, download the campaigner guide, and more, on the Action page

    Easily tweet at and tag financial institutions on Facebook to tell them to stop investing in nuclear weapons

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Who Invests? (Don't Bank on the Bomb)

    Who Divests? (Don't Bank on the Bomb)

    Nuclear Weapons Producers (Don't Bank on the Bomb)

     

    Posted March 6, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1169: Playing with Winter (Threat and Effects of Nuclear War)

  • Demand Your MoCs Defend Dreamers and Pass a Clean #DreamActNow via Dreamer Pledge Project @IndivisibleTeam @UNITEDWEDREAM

    Dreamer_Pledge_logo.pngActivist groups have come together to defend Dreamers and demand a clean DREAM Act, and now they have made it incredibly easy for you to do the same.

    Groups including Indivisible, United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, Democracy Spring, NRDC, Credo Mobile, and many more, have banded together to launch DreamerPledge.org. This website is essentially a simple and effective one-stop-shop tool for voters to find out how their members of congress voted when it comes to Dreamers and provides call scripts to help you either thank them, or tell them just how furious you are.

    There are scripts for talking to Republican and Democratic members of congress and they’re written to specifically respond to the passage of the most recent Continuing Resolution bill that did not include the DREAM Act. As you’ve already heard, Democrats said they would not vote for that bill unless it included the DREAM Act, and then…many of them caved. The call scripts help you clearly demand that your Democratic and Republican members of congress vote against the upcoming February 8th Continuing Resolution unless it protects Dreamers in order to avoid complicity in Trump’s racist policies.

    Let’s take this moment to remember that Senators Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have been promising to reach a deal with Trump to protect Dreamers since last September. Well, now it’s February and DACA expires just one month from now. Trump has vowed to deport DACA recipients when the program ends on March 5th, so there is no time to be congenial and make concessions. The Trump agenda is not business as usual and members of congress, especially Democrats, need to respond appropriately.

    It’s baffling that Democrats have wavered since they know full well that Trump and Republicans have miscalculated this one. According to multiple recent polls, the vast majority of Americans support allowing Dreamers to stay in the U.S. According to a Politico/Morning Consult Poll conducted last September, over 69 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats think Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the U.S. They differ only on wether they should be allowed to become citizens or just legal residents.

    The only thing that can stop Trump from ripping lives apart is passage of the DREAM Act. So head over to DreamerPledge.org and tell Congress to defend Dreamers today before it’s too late.

    So, if stopping Congress from complying with racist policies is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Demanding Your Members of Congress Defend Dreamers and Pass a Clean Dream Act Now via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Use DreamerPledge.org tools and scripts to demand your MoCs protect Dreamers

    REMINDERS: DACA ends March 5th! Next Continuing Resolution deadline is Feb. 8th!

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Do three-quarters of Americans support the DREAM Act? Nancy Pelosi says so (PolitiFact.com)

    Senate Democrats cave, provide votes based on McConnell’s empty promise (Think Progress)

    Compromise or cave-in? Democrats' deal to end shutdown sows division (The Guardian)

    Dreamers are Americans Too (TIME)

    “Dreamers” could give U.S. economy – and even American workers – a boost (Salon.com)

     

    Posted January 26, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1162: The economics of immigration and demonization

     

  • What Can YOU Do To Support the #Medicare4All Movement?

    What_can_you_do_medicare4all.pngDesmond Tutu famously said, “Hope is being able to see the light despite all of the darkness.” 

    And it sure has been dark lately. But this month, as historic hurricanes and earthquakes added a new level of panic to an already frightening political landscape, the announcement of Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All bill was a much needed bright spot. 

    The significance of this announcement is getting lost in the mainstream media news cycle, so let’s lay it out here: This is the beginning of a major movement for a progressive idea that even just a few years ago was still seen as radical in the U.S. but now it actually has a chance at becoming law. It is an idea that will save lives, help counter growing income inequality, save us all money in the long run, and bring us up to speed with other first world nations. It embodies so much of what we stand for as progressives, and that’s why we need to get ready for the long and arduous battle against special interests with power and money to make sure it succeeds.

    We’re including links to groups and organizations you should get involved with in the show notes, but right now - other than the hashtag #Medicare4All and the videos Bernie is putting out - there is no formal, interactive, fancy campaign page to send you to yet.

    So, today’s activism is going to be a little different than usual. Today, we aren’t going to send you somewhere else, or tell you to call people (that should be a given), we’re just asking you to ask yourself: “What can I do?” when it comes to the fight for Medicare for All.  

    Maybe you’re part of a church or synagogue or mosque where you have discussion groups. If so, ask them to have discussions about healthcare and Medicare for All. 

    Maybe you go to every single town hall your politician hosts - and the ones they don’t. Make sure you, your friends and family attend together and put pressure on those politicians to support Medicare for All. 

    Maybe you have a personal story to share about you, a family member or friend, that illustrates just how much we need a single-payer system in this country. If so, make a video and share it or write about it in a letter to the editor of your local papers - or both.  

    If you want to start small, have your friends listen to this episode and then organize a get together to talk about it. Try a few different groups of friends or family, and be sure to include those who might not agree with you. 

    Maybe you’re a great organizer. You can pull together regular Medicare for All support rallies at the statehouse or in front of your representative’s local office and invite local action groups, doctors and nurses, and community leaders to take part. 

    Perhaps you’re the kind of person who always knows the right people. If you have access to politicians or influential public figures in your community or beyond, use those connections, engage those people on this topic and see if you can convince them to be an ally in this fight in a public way. 

    Of course, these are all just examples of things you could do. You might come up with something completely different. But all we’re asking is for you to take the time today to think about what you can bring to the table. Each one of us has something to offer in this fight and you don’t need to wait for a campaign to tell you what to do to start making progress. This issue effects every single one of us and it will only be won with a major, overwhelming grassroots movement. That’s you. 

    There are few opportunities to make such significant, lasting change in this country. So after listening to this show today, make a list of at least 3 things you might be able to do, long term, to help Medicare for All become law. Then, call into our voicemail line at 202-999-3991 to share your ideas and inspire others. Together, we can do this.  

    So, if you believe healthcare is a human right, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about identifying what you can do to support Medicare for All via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    What are the top 3 things you can personally do to contribute to the movement to support #Medicare4All?

    Call the voicemail line at 202-999-3991 and tell us your ideas to inspire others

    Read the details of Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All bill

    Some other ways to get involved: 

    Our Revolution groups (Sen. Sanders’ action organization) 

    Health Over Profit (nonprofit grassroots org fighting for Medicare for All)

    Fight4Medicare.com (grassroots #Medicare4All action campaign) 

    Social Security Works (nonprofit defending our social programs) 

    Truth Out “Medicare for All” Series (independent media outlet looking to focus on Medicare for All coverage)

    MoveOn.org Petition (do NOT let signing this be all you do!) 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Bernie Sanders's new Medicare-for-all plan, explained (Vox)

    The Political Genius of Bernie’s ‘Medicare for All’ Bill (The Nation)

    Bernie’s “Medicare for All” actually is the pragmatic health care solution (Salon)

    The Loss of Morality in America’s Healthcare Debate (Washington Post)

    Sanders's Bill Electrifies Growing Single-Payer Movement (truth-out)

    "Medicare for All": A Uniting Call to Action in the Age of Trump (truth-out)

     

    Posted September 29, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1136: Doing the Right Thing After Exhausting All Other Options (Medicare for All)

  • #ProtectNEPA to #ProtectOurVoice on the Environment via @ProtectNEPA

    DJnOmyuWAAMxiL5.jpgIf you didn’t know it already, you have a legal right to know about and weigh in on federal government projects before any action is taken. Those rights are protected by the first bedrock piece of environmental legislation - a law called the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

    NEPA has three main components:

    1) It promotes transparency by requiring that plans for federal projects be released to the public,

    2) It promotes informed decision-making through requiring detailed studies on environmental impacts and alternatives, and

    3) It gives the public a voice on these projects through public hearings and comment periods.  

    It’s all important, but that last piece is vital. Because of NEPA, citizens have the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about plans that will impact the environment and their communities, and then hold their government accountable. That period of public review also takes time and shines sunlight on consequences, whether unintended or otherwise. And that’s essential to stopping dangerous, rushed or poorly planned projects.  

    NEPA requirements don’t just force the truth to come out, they allow time for movements to be built before projects are underway. They allow time for organizing and for media to be drawn in to alert the broader public and win the public relations war against giant companies. Think of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Think of Keystone XL. NEPA made it possible for these projects to become household names and public battles instead of inevitable… and that is, of course, why NEPA is under attack.

    A NEPA repeal would be incredibly difficult and unpopular, so instead conservatives are trying to chip away at it bit by bit. In a Heritage Foundation report last year, the organization wrote about their plans to “pave the way to rescission” of NEPA by introducing legislation that narrows NEPA reviews, mandates time limits, limits alternatives, and eliminates consideration of - you guessed it - green house gases and climate change. 

    In the last two Congresses, over one hundred and fifty bills were introduced that weakened or waived NEPA. Now, in the current Congress, there are already over fifty introduced bills that would limit or eliminate public input, government accountability, and environmental review of federal projects. Several of these bills have passed or are likely to pass soon.

    We will all lose if NEPA is damaged or destroyed. But low-income communities, indigenous communities and communities of color, which face environmental injustice every day, will lose a critical tool in their fight to protect their health, economy and environment. For 40 years, NEPA has given a voice to people who would otherwise be shut out of the process, but that could change unless you get involved today with the NEPA Works campaign. 

    Go to NEPAWorks.wpengine.com. There you will find details on the history and importance of NEPA, as well as a complete list of categorized legislative threats to this critical law in the House and Senate. Your next step is to call Congress and spread the word about the ulterior motive within these bills. You can also read and share success stories from every single state where NEPA requirements have quite literally saved the day. The things companies have tried to get away with will shock you. 

    Follow the campaign on Twitter @ProtectNEPA and join other environmental action groups in using the hashtags #ProtectNEPA and #ProtectOurVoice while shining a light on this subversive Republican plan. The NEPA Works campaign is just getting off the ground and so we encourage you to get involved now and keep checking in to see what else you can do to help. 

    If only there was a NEPA to help us defend the NEPA…

    So, if fighting for your right to protect your health, family, community and environment is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Protecting NEPA via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

     

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with the NEPA Works campaign to protect your voice!

    Read about pending legislation that chips away at NEPA, share it, and call Congress (try Stance) to stop it

    Read and share NEPA success stories from every state

    Follow NEPA Works on Twitter @ProtectNEPA

    Use the #ProtectNEPA and #ProtectOurVoice on social media 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF:

    We will not be silenced. Stand up for a strong NEPA! (Earth Justice)

    Trump CEQ rolls out plans for swift NEPA reviews (Governors' Wind & Solar Energy Coalition)

    US people of color still more likely to be exposed to pollution than white people (The Guardian)

    Christine Todd Whitman: How Not to Run the E.P.A. (New York Times)

    Boston Communities Unite to Democratize Their Economy (Next City)

     

    Posted September 19, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1134: Unnatural Disasters (Hurricane & the Climate)

     

  • What’s After Capitalism? Create Our Next Economy via @TheNextSystem

    thenextsystem.pngThe clips in today’s show couldn’t be more clear: we are living in the death throws of capitalism. And while technology has been able to let us limp along by solving some of capitalisms more dire problems, while exacerbating others, the issues that are left have no quick fix. So, it’s time…probably past time…to ask the question: What’s next? 

    Luckily, there are people working to answer that question. But they need and want you to be part of finding the solution. 

    The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in the future. Working with a broad group of researchers, theorists and activists, they seek to launch a national debate on the nature of “the next system.” Using the best research, understanding and strategic thinking, on-the-ground organizing and development experience, their goal is to refine and publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models - fundamentally different from anything we’ve seen before - that are capable of delivering superior social, economic and ecological outcomes. 

    Admittedly, it's a big task, but ideas with these goals in mind are already being put forth. 

    In May, the Next System Project released “Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth” - a project from economist, historian and activist Gar Alperovitz. This is an approach and model that offers a trajectory for wide-ranging institutional change towards real democracy over the long haul, guided by a transformative vision beyond both corporate capitalism and traditional state socialism. You can read this model and request a free copy of it for local reading and organizing groups by going to TheNextSystem.org/principles

    But if you don’t have to rely on economists to propose the next system. You can contribute your thoughts and be part of the discussion about what the next system should be with The Next System Teach-In Initiative. In 2016, teach-ins happened in communities and on college campuses across the country, engaging every day people in a discussion around the new economy and the type of world they want to live in. A complete archive of the resources created for these teach-ins is available at TheNextSystem.org/teachins. So, if your'e in a position to do so, you can go and get those resources and organize a meting in your community today. 

    The segment notes include all the links to this information as well as additional resources and, as always, this and every activism segment we produce is archived and organized under the activism tab at Best of the Left dot com. 

    So, if having an economy that works for everyone is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Creating Our Next Economy via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

    The writing is on the wall. The big questions are being asked. Make sure you get a say when it comes to what’s next. 

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Help find the answer to "What's Next?" with The Next System Project

    Read Gar Alperovitz "Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth

    Download resources and organize a Next System Project Teach-In in your community

    Follow @TheNextSystem on Twitter   

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Is Capitalism Dying? (Forbes, 2013)

    ’Is Capitalism Dying?’ (Marxism, 2013) 

    The Pain You Feel is Capitalism Dying (Joe Brewer, Medium, 2016)

    Beyond the Minimum Wage Debate: Let's Move Toward a System That Works for All (Democracy at Work)

    Prof. Richard Wolff debates Fox's Stuart Varney (Democracy at Work)

     

    Posted August 1, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1123: Preparing for the end of the world, or at least capitalism

  • Fight Corruption to Save America via @JusticeDems @WolfPAChq @RepresentDotUs

    liberty_and_justice_for_sale.pngAs our country marks its 241st birthday, this year of all years is especially ripe for reflection. Where we’ve been heading and where we are right now - politically and socially - is disturbing to say the least, but we can still change course. If nothing else, as Americans we can be proud of our track record of change and progress. It may be made with two steps forward and one step back, but eventually we get there. 

    But we don’t get there because of famous politicians and speeches. We get there because people like you care enough to get involved and push us in the right direction. So, today we’re highlighting three effective ways you can roll up your sleeves and fight corruption and money in politics - the primary sources of our ills as a nation. 

    If you’re passionate about pushing for change from the inside, get involved with Justice Democrats. Justice Democrats believes that the Democratic Party’s alignment with Wall Street over working men and women has allowed Republicans to take over most state legislatures, most governorships, Congress, and the presidency. Their plan is to promote quality, progressive candidates to replace corporate-backed Democrats and in turn, rebuild the Democratic Party from scratch to be a party that fights for a clear progressive vision. Visit JusticeDemocrats.com to read about the candidates and get involved. 

    if you want to work locally on an issue campaign to fight corruption nationally, get involved with Represent Us. In communities across America, Represent.Us members – including conservatives, progressives and everyone in between – are working together to pass local Anti-Corruption Acts. In 2016, Represent.Us members passed the first statewide Anti-Corruption Act in South Dakota (state Republicans repealed it earlier this year). But this isn’t one size fits all: every municipal and state Anti-Corruption Act creates their own common-sense ethics, conflict-of-interest, transparency, and campaign finance laws. State Acts create the opportunity for federal candidates from that state to campaign on the anti-corruption platform – accountable to their constituents, not special interests. Head over to Represent.Us today to find your local chapter and get involved. 

    And finally, if you’re passionate about bypassing Congress and using the states to make change, get involved with The Young Turks’ organization Wolf PAC, which you’ve been hearing about on this show for years. Their plan to save democracy in the United States is by getting a much needed amendment to the Constitution that will establish elections which are free of the corrupting influence of money in our political system and fair enough that any citizen can run for office - not just millionaires and their allies. Go to Wolf-PAC.com to find out how you can get involved in your state and help bring us one step closer to passing the Free and Fair Elections amendment. 

    All three of these movements are worth your time and are working in concert with each other, not at odds with one another. So pick the one that fits your style and passion and get involved. 

    The turn of the century activist, social worker, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Jane Addams, once said...

    “Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.”

    Now that’s a brand of patriotism we can get down with. 

    So, if fighting the forces that continue to leach power from the people is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Fighting Corruption to Save America via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Replace corporate-backed Democrats with Justice Democrats

    Help pass local Anti-Corruption legislation with Represent.Us

    Help pass the Free and Fair Elections Constitutional amendment with Wolf-PAC

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    The Logical Path to End Corruption (Wolf-PAC)

    South Dakota GOP uses 'emergency' rules to repeal anti-corruption law (CNN)

    What the Single-Payer Loss Reveals About the Role of Corporate Money in California Politics (In These Times)

    House Bill Would Ax Election Panel, Bar Limits on Money in Politics (Bloomberg BNA)

    Pro-Trump super PACs have already spent $1 million on Election 2020 (The Center for Public Integrity)

     

    Posted July 4, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1117: We were founded to resist corruption, now it’s all we know

     

     

  • STOP TRUMPCARE via @IndivisibleTeam and TrumpcareToolkit.org

    Kill_the_bill.jpgJust because it feels like everyone knows how utterly awful this dressed-up bill of tax cuts for the wealthy is, doesn’t mean it won’t become law. The pure fact that it is a reconciliation bill was a strategic way to get this through the Senate with only 50 Republican votes. 

    Thankfully, it looks like they’re coming up a little short. 

    After the Congressional Budget Office released their report revealing that this Senate bill is no less cruel than the House bill, a few Republican Senators are showing reservations. Those reservations must be cemented into “no” votes. And to do that, those Senators need to hear from you. 

    As of the air date of this show, Mitch McConnell has postponed the vote until after the July 4th recess. That means we have time on our side, and a big point to make on America’s birthday.

    The Center for American Progress Action Fund has created a website listing the fifteen Republican Senators who are most likely to vote against Trumpcare, along with their phone numbers and the ability to Tweet at them with a graphic showing the number of people in their state that will lose coverage if the Senate bill passes. Go to TrumpcareToolkit.org to check it out and take action. 

    For more detailed information on what this bill will do and call scripts to help you get the message across to your Senators, head over to IndivisibleGuide.com. Their Stop Trumpcare toolkit has been updated to provide all of the details and resources you need to fight against the Senate bill. These resources also include a layman terms explainer on why the bill STILL fails people with pre-existing conditions by allowing backdoor discrimination. And that’s important, since the architects of this bill are working hard to mislead the public on that very point. 

    If the lines are busy, try using one of our favorite calling tools: Stance. Stance allows you to record your message and delivers it directly to your Congressperson’s phone lines when call volume is low. 

    And finally, if you can, show up at your Congress person’s local office and go to town hall meetings. If your Congress person isn’t hosting a town hall, then consider hosting a citizen-lead town hall and invite your Congress person. This tactic has proven to be effective mostly because being represented by an empty chair is never good optics for a Congress person dodging their constituents. Go to TownHallProject.com or visit your congress person’s website to see if there is a town hall near you during the recess.  

    I probably don’t need to remind you, but I will, that Medicaid as we know it is on the line. Affordable coverage for those who actually need it is on the line. Lifetime coverage caps and limitless out of pocket expenses will return. Even quality employer sponsored insurance coverage is at risk. So please take action right now. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say millions of lives are at stake. 

    So, if you’re fed up with attacks on the most vulnerable among us to pay for tax cuts for the rich, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about STOPPING TRUMPCARE via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Call & tweet at the 15 Senators most likely to vote against Trumpcare with Trumpcare Toolkit 

    Get info and call scripts on Trumpcare from Indivisible Guide's Stop Trumpcare Toolkit 

    Find a Town Hall with TownHallProject.com

    EDUCATE YOURSELF 

    CBO Analysis Endangers GOP Health-Care Bill (The Atlantic) 

    The Latest: 5th GOP senator opposes debate on health bill (MSN.com)

    Senate GOP health-care bill's tax cuts would be a big boon for the rich, analysis says (CNBC)

    The most devastating passage in the CBO’s report on the Senate health bill (Vox)

    The Senate Health-Care Bill Is Morally Indefensible (The Nation)

    Republicans Spent the Weekend Lying Their Faces Off About Health Care (The Nation)

    Police drag away protesters in wheelchairs from Mitch McConnell’s office (Salon)

    Sean Spicer: America Either Passes GOP Plan or Adopts Single Payer (The Ring of Fire)

    Opinion: The GOP says its healthcare bill will protect those with preexisting conditions. Um, no it won’t (LA Times)

     

    Posted June 27, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1116: An enormous tax cut for the rich disguised as health care

     

  • Learn How to Effectively Fight & Report Hate in Your Community via @SPLCenter

    SPLC.jpgThe recent horrific events on a train in Portland, Oregon have left us all unnerved. And while there is kindness and love in this story, there is also the reminder that this is not an isolated incident. Across the country, hate groups have been rising and growing in their ranks for the last decade, and having Trump in the White House has only emboldened them.

    If you’re feeling helpless in trying to stop the neo-nazis, white nationalists and other extremists advocating for violence and white supremacy, you should know there are solid steps and actions you and your community can take.  

    Seven years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center produced the publication Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide.” Despite its age, it is still extremely relevant. The guide sets out ten principles for fighting hate, along with a collection of inspiring stories of people who worked to push hate out of their communities. Read it. Share it. Discuss it. Practice it. 

    If you witness or are the victim of a hate crime, first, call the authorities. Then, help Southern Poverty Law Center monitor these incidents by submitting the details in a form on their website at SPLCenter.org/reporthate. You can also use the hashtag #ReportHate to share the link to this form with others and call out hate crimes on social media.

    And finally, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right with articles about the latest news and headlines regarding hate crimes and hate groups, as well as updates on the organization’s pending law suits. One of the more recent articles highlights the disturbing surge in frequency of noose hate crime incidents, including two incidents in and near the African American History Museum in DC.  

    Look, this is not the kind of news most people seek out. This is a dark, viscous side of our country that the privileged among us can easily pretend does not exist. But we have to push past feeling uncomfortable and get to the part where we ask ourselves what we can do to counter the message of hate. Go to SPLCenter.org to educate yourself and gather the tools we all desperately need to take up this fight. 

    So, if standing up for each other and fighting hate is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Learning How to Effectively Fight & Report Hate in Your Community with Southern Poverty Law Center via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Read and share SPLC's "Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide"

    #ReportHate crimes to SPLC at splcenter.org/reporthate 

    Stay informed about hate-fueled incidents across the country via SPLC's Hatewatch 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    SPLC Hatewatch: Headlines for 6/7/2017 (SPLC Hatewatch)

    Defiant Alt-Right “Patriots” Encounter Portland’s Simmering Anger After Train Killings (SPLC Hatewatch)

    As Hate Crimes Rise, The Trump Administration Blocks Funding to Fight Domestic Extremism (Right Wing Watch)

    Why Taking Down Confederate Memorials is Only a First Step (The Conversation)

    Protest in the Era of Donald Trump (Huffington Post)

     

    Posted June 7, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear Best of the Left Edition #1110: The rise of hate in America (White Supremacy)

     

  • Bring MORE Conservatives On Board to a Carbon Fee & Dividend #ClimateChange Solution via @RepublicEn @CreationCare @citizensclimate

    board-1521348_1920.jpgWe live in polarized world where hard-lined political ideologies make it difficult for us to talk, let alone hear each other. So, when faced with the existential crisis of climate change, how can we make any progress? Turns out there is hope.

    There is one solution to climate change that has actually been embraced by both sides of the political spectrum: Carbon Fee and Dividend (aka: Cap and Dividend). Carbon Fee and Dividend is the idea of applying a fee that companies would pay for their carbon output (or imports) and sending that money directly back to the people to offset the increase in fuel costs. It puts pressure on the market to move away from fossil fuels and the dividends provide an incentive for people to move toward more affordable renewable sources so they can use the extra money for other things.

    Conservatives like it because it is a market-based solution, it isn’t a tax (because it goes back to the people), it won’t increase the size of government, and would actually make less regulations required. Progressives like it because, well, it’ll actually work. 

    So, do you have some conservatives in your life that you’ve been avoiding lately? Instead of telling them they are wrong about everything, engage them with ideas from other conservatives that just so happen to align with your goals too. 

    Here are a few things you can share with them…

    • RepublicEN, highlighted in the BOTL #1108, is a group of over 3,000 conservatives and libertarians who are educating Americans about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. Share or get involved with RepublicEN at RepublicEn.org.
    • The Evangelical Environmental Network, highlighted in BOTL #1108, is a group of 200,000 evangelical, pro-life Christians, who see themselves as “stewards of the bounty upon which all life depends.” They believe being pro-life also means protecting the environment that is essential to our quality of life. Share or get involved with EEN at CreationCare.org
    • And finally, if you can get them onboard with Carbon Fee and Dividend, introduce them to the Citizens Climate Lobby, a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. They have chapters all over the country, and the globe, and they lobbying for one thing and one thing only: Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation. 

     

    SAMPLE TWEETS/POSTS: 

    • GOP friends: Thoughts on a free-market, reduced reg #climatechange solution? This conservative org has a plan: http://www.republicen.org/ 
    • These Evangelicals want to solve #climatechange b/c they are "stewards of the bounty on which all life depends." http://www.creationcare.org/

     

    So, if making sure we actually get to even try to solve climate change is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Bringing MORE Conservatives On Board to a Carbon Fee & Dividend #ClimateChange Solution via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

      

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Let’s solve climate change! Engage with your conservative friends…

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    AN EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT TAKES ON CLIMATE CHANGE (Newsweek, 2016) 

    Conservatives Plan for a Carbon Tax (The New York Times)

    Citizens Climate Lobby pushes for a carbon tax and dividend (The Guardian, 2013)

    7 Reasons Conservatives Should Support Climate Change Solutions (Huffington Post)

    New economic study shows carbon tax refunded to households would create jobs (Citizens Climate Lobby, 2014)

     

    Posted May 30, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear Best of the Left Edition #1108: A conservative solution to solving climate change

     

  • Spread the Word about The People’s Budget via @USProgressives (Congressional Progressive Caucus)

    3Vcq_emv.jpgIt’s easy to criticize a budget or tax plan entrenched in corruption, cronyism and pandering to corporations and political donors. The op-eds and think pieces practically write themselves. But unless we offer a strikingly better alternative that lifts up all people and proves a peaceful and prosperous world is truly possible, all the criticism in the world will be for naught. 

    What most people don’t realize is that a guide to that alternative path already exists. The Congressional Progressive Caucus puts out a progressive, alternative budget every year called The People’s Budget. This year’s subtitle is “A roadmap for the resistance.” It’s chalk full of well thought out, progressive ideas that actually work, and the details on how we’ll pay for them.

    Here’s just a taste of what it says: It calls or $2 trillion in infrastructure investments to transform energy, water and transportation systems, and $100 billion to increase access to reliable, high-speed internet. It allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems and lowers the cost of prescription drugs. It ends corporate tax breaks for offshoring American jobs and profits. It closes corporate tax loopholes and raises taxes on the wealthiest few and expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit. It invests in development of community oriented policing reforms and increased funding for voter protection and legal assistance programs. It funds public financing of campaigns to curb special interests’ influence. It calls for $1 trillion in effective early learning opportunities and a child-care-for-all program. It invests in women, communities of color and their families. It implements immigration reform and includes a pathway to citizenship. It makes debt free college a reality and invests in computer science opportunities for all students. It supports the minimum wage increase and collective bargaining rights. It ends subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies and closes their tax loopholes, while investing in clean, renewable and efficient energy, and green manufacturing. It eliminates veterans’ homelessness and increases their access to mental health care as well as job training opportunities. And it even invests in our defense system while promoting peace, through increasing funding for diplomacy and strategic humanitarian aid, and increased funding for refugee resettlement programs. 

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In summary, The People’s Budget invests in our country to ensure its people prosper now and for generations to come. Is it perfect? No. But this is the path we want to take. Improvements can and will be made on the way. Head over to CPCBudget.org (or the official CPC website) to read the full budget and share it far and wide. Because of its extreme lack of media coverage, we highly encourage you to write a letter to the editor of local and national media outlets asking them to cover The People’s Budget in depth. If you can, write an article about it yourself. At the very least, share it on social media and talk about it with your family and friends - because if no one knows there is another way forward, we’re stalled before we can even begin.

    So, if showing America there is an alternative to Trumpism and heartless Conservatism is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about The People’s Budget via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

      

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Check out The People's Budget at cpcbudget.org and spread the word. 

    Visit the Progressive Caucus website and follow @USProgressives on Twitter for updates.

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    The Democrats are getting ready to govern again (The Week)

    This new budget points the way forward for Democrats (The Washington Post)

    The People’s Budget, Not Trump’s Budget, Will Help Working Americans (Common Dreams)

    The People’s Budget, not Trump’s budget, will help working Americans (Economic Policy Institute)

    The People's Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System (Common Dreams, 2015)

     

    Posted May 12, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left edition #1103: Freedom isn't free, it's paid for with your taxes

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW0_R0g3V64

  • Support Mama’s Bail Out Day This Mother’s Day via @NationalBailOut #FreeBlackMamas #EndMoneyBail

    MAMAS_FACT2.1-300x300.jpg

    For those of you not living the day to day oppression of black people in America, it’s possible you didn’t notice right away that The Movement for Black Lives has almost entirely dropped from the mainstream media headlines since November. 

    There is no question that this is a direct casualty of the election of Donald Trump. Maybe things will change as Jeff Sessions begins flexing his Attorney General powers, but it’s important to remember that nothing has changed for black people in America since November. Unarmed black people of all ages and walks of life are still dying at the hands of police and the police are still getting away with it. 

    So if you have found yourself unengaged from the movement, your first action is to jump back in. Visit the websites and social media pages of organizations like Advancement Project, Alliance for Educational Justice, Color of Change, Dream Defenders, Law for Black Lives, and of course, The Movement for Black Lives

    Your next action is to get involved this week with Mama’s Bail Out Day, leading up to and happening on Mother’s Day, this Sunday, May 14th. The day is organized by National Bail Out, a partnership with Color of Change and The Movement for Black Lives, with the goal of reuniting families, resisting mass incarceration and ending the cash bail system once and for all. 

    The idea is simple: Local and national organizations participating in National Mama’s Bail Out Day are raising money to pay the bail of as many incarcerated mothers as possible, in all of their varieties - queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant - and give them an opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with their families. Additionally, the organizations plan to build community through gatherings that highlight the impact of inhumane and destructive bail practices on our communities, particularly communities of color.  

    Why the focus on mothers? Women held in local jails represent the fastest growing group of incarcerated people in the United States. Since 1970, the number of women in US jails has increased by 14 times. Nearly 80% of women in jails are mothers and nearly half are in local jails for crimes they haven’t been convicted of. According to National Bail Out, we spend $9 billion on pre-trial incarceration in this country and the results are devastating. Even a few days in jail can catastrophically impact a woman’s family and community by putting her job, housing and even the custody of her children at risk. But if she can’t pay bail, she has no way out.

    The idea of paying bail to release these women comes from the tradition of enslaved black people who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom before slavery was abolished. The National Bail Out website states, “Until we abolish bail and mass incarceration, we’re gonna free ourselves.”

    The more money National Bail Out can raise, the more women can be brought home for Mother’s Day and reengage with their communities. Visit NoMoreMoneyBail.org to donate and find the cities and organizations taking part in this action. You can also follow the movement on Twitter @NationalBailOut and engage with the hashtags #EndMoneyBail and #FreeBlackMamas.

    So, if resisting the devastating impacts of mass incarceration and bail practices on people of color is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Supporting Mama’s Bail Out Day This Mother’s Day via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Support Mama's Bail Out Day this Mother's Day via @NationalBailOut 

    Engage online with the hashtags #FreeBlackMamas and #EndMoneyBail

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Locked Up for Being Poor (New York Times)

    Federal judge: Harris Co. bail system unfair to poor, low-level defendants (Houston Chronicle)

    Black Is the New Black: Number of African-American Women in Prison Is Rising (BET, 2014)

    Incarcerated Women and Girls (The Sentencing Project)

     

    Posted May 9, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1102: Racism built a system we all suffer under

     

     

  • Take Part in Global Divestment Mobilization Week May 5-13 via @GoFossilFree @350


    C-LZ-IzXUAAoZ0r.jpgDuring the height of the Keystone XL fight in 2012, we sat in a theater in Washington, DC, along with hundreds of other climate activists and concerned citizens, and heard 350.org founder Bill McKibben talk about climate action via divestment. Back then, the divestment movement was just getting started and within a year, there were student-led divestment efforts happening on college campuses across the country and around the world. Since then, the divestment mobilization has become a core strategy of the climate movement.

    With the national spotlight on science and climate change, 350.org has organized a week-long, Global Divestment Mobilization week May 5-13, on the heels of the People’s Climate March. The last Global Divestment Day was two years ago, so, it’s more than time - and perhaps the perfect time - to reinvigorate a movement that has taken off and grown substantially over recent years. 

    As you’ve heard on this show and everywhere by now, renewable energy is becoming more efficient and cost effective every year, but to have a chance at that future we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground….and we don’t have time to wait for the market to fix things. We need to make change happen now and money seems to be the only thing that talks in our corrupt, capitalist society.  

    On their website, the Divestment Week organizers wrote, “Now it’s time to highlight the impacts of fossil fuels on our planet and to demand action that is rooted in the moral argument that investing in fossil fuels is not only a financial risk, but also risking the lives of human beings.”

    During Global Divestment Mobilization Week, actions will take place around the globe to demand the following moral responses from governments, universities, religious organizations, cultural institutions, individuals, and others: 

    • Immediate freeze of any new investments in fossil fuel companies.
    • Divestment from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.
    • Cutting of sponsorship ties with fossil fuel companies

    Visit GlobalDivestmentMobilisation.org to learn more and to find actions near you. If there isn’t an action in your area, the site offers ideas and resources to organize one of your own. You can also follow the movement @GoFossilFree on Twitter and by checking out and using the official global hashtag #FossilFree.

    So, if saving the planet before it’s too late is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Taking Part in the Global Divestment Mobilization Week May 5-13 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Join or organize Global Divestment Mobilization Actions, May 5-13,2017 

    Follow @GoFossilFree and @350 on Twitter 

    Engage with the Divestment Mobilization hashtag #FossilFree  

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Why Divestment is Changing the Climate Movement (The Nation, 2013)

    The rise and rise of the fossil fuel divestment movement (The Guardian, 2015)

    This is a Timed Test (Slate, Bill McKibben, 2015)


    Posted April 28, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1099: The science of the times

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F26RQ9PFRjk

     

  • Fight the War Economy By Growing Local #Peace Economies via @CodePink

    PeaceEcon33.pngThe big marches happening over the next few weekends will likely have an additional anti-war component now that Trump has bombed Syria, provoked North Korea, and dropped the MOAB - the largest and most expensive non-nuclear bomb we had in our military arsenal - on Afghanistan. 

    We encourage you to get in the streets for those marches, but also organize local actions in your communities in the days in-between to voice your rejection of American imperialism and the war economy, and support of multilateral, diplomatic strategies and solutions. Calling Congress to express these opinions is also crucial to making our voices heard.

    But in addition to rapid response actions, we can work locally and personally in the longer term to create the world we want to live in. Code Pink, the women-led grassroots anti-war organization founded during the Bush years, has launched a campaign to help raise awareness and encourage reflection about the fact that each and every one of us is invested in the war economy. We invest by the way we live and the decisions we make each day. But they believe, as I do, that we can divest from the war economy and cultivate a just, “Local Peace Economy” that creates conditions conducive to life by redirecting our investments to our local communities and people.  

    The fact is that the war economy is killing us. America has been at war for the last fourteen years and now Trump has put us on the brink of multiple, new escalations. This perpetual war, the widening wealth inequality, and refusal to deal with existential issues like climate change, are inextricably linked. The wealthy few hold an immense amount of power and control political, social, and economic systems to safeguard and expand their power. As Code Pink explains, this situation has resulted in “a social, ecological, economic, and political crisis that threatens life on earth.” 

    On the Local Peace Economy campaign page on their website, Code Pink writes, “Even though there is evidence that shows that humans are predisposed to be cooperative and sharing, the war economy survives by creating the experience of scarcity that forces the reliance on greed, selfishness, competition, and a sense that we are separate.” 

    Head over to CodePink.org/peaceeconomy to read more about the campaign, take the Peace Economy Pledge and read the Next Steps to begin growing your Peace Economy now.  

    The next steps include questions to ask yourself to see where in your life you are not living your values, a list of suggested organizations and causes to engage with that align with Peace Economy goals, how and where to invest financially in your local community, and much more. 

    So, if supporting an economy that promotes peace over war is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Fighting the War Economy by Growing Local Peace Economies via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too. 

    Mr. Roger’s once said, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Visit codepink.org/peaceeconomy to learn more about divesting from war and investing in your community

    Take action with Next Steps to building a Local Peace Economy 

    Follow Code Pink @codepink or their Peace Economy campaign account @PeaceEcon

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    What does an 'America First' Policy Actually Mean? (The Nation)

    No Rural-Urban Divide Here: We All Want Good Jobs and Strong Local Economies (YES! Magazine)

    What a Policy of Real Solidarity with the Syrian People Looks Like (YES! Magazine)

    Why These Missile Strikes Won't Make Things Better for the Syrian People (YES! Magazine)

    To Billionaire Doomsday Preppers: Your Wealth Won't Save You (YES! Magazine)

    Is War Good for the Economy? (Huffington Post Blog, 2013)

    A State of Perpetual War (Huffington Post Blog, 2010) 

    The US and NATO are Preparing for a Major War with Russia (The Nation, 2016)

     

    Posted April 14, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman 

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1095: Reckless Empire and the Forever War (Foreign Policy)

     

  • Stop HR 620: Tell Congress to #ProtectADA via @NDRNAdvocates

    No_way_not_my_ada_edited.pngThere is little enforcement of the nearly 27 year old Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the A.D.A. Every time their civil rights are infringed upon, citizens with disabilities must fight to defend those rights in court. That’s not an ideal situation, but it’s often the path that produces more immediate results in the society we live in. 

    The reality is that businesses, even after 27 years, continue to blatantly ignore ADA compliance. And now, a bi-partisan backed bill has been re-introduced by Representative Ted Poe of Texas that will weaken the one tool available to people with disabilities fighting for their civil rights, and the primary way the ADA is enforced. 

    HR 620, or the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, was born out of complaints from business owners that a cottage industry of legal firms has popped up to capitalize on the ADA by filing a multitude of what they deem to be “frivolous” law suits that hurt businesses.

    So, in an attempt to “protect business owners” who are already violating the law, HR 620 puts even more of a burden on the person whose rights are being violated. If this bill passes, a disabled person must first be denied access; then must determine that violations of the law have occurred; then must provide the business with specific written notice of which provisions of the law were violated and when; and finally, the aggrieved person with the disability must afford the business a lengthy period to correct the problem. The person whose civil rights are being ignored would have to endure and do all of this before they could even file a lawsuit. 

    The legislation failed to pass the House last year due to successful activism from the disability community to squelch it, but under a new administration it has reared its head again.

    In a letter to lawmakers, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote, “If, after 27 years, a business has continued to not comply with the requirements of this legislation, why should a person have to wait more time for enforcement of their civil rights? Should an individual who is not allowed to enter a restaurant because of their race, gender or religion, have to wait before seeking to enforce their civil rights?” 

    You can help kill this bill again, and perhaps for good, by calling your legislators today and telling them you will not stand for legislation that weakens the ADA and puts more burden on the very people it aims to protect, while businesses continue to violate a 27 year old civil rights law. Get up to speed on the bill, read the statements from the disability community, and watch and share videos about the importance of the ADA and how we can build on it, on the National Disability Rights Network website at NDRN.org

    So, if defending civil rights for all is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about telling congress to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Visit the NDRN website to read up on the response to HR 620 and learn what you can do to protect the ADA

    Call Congress, especially the 14 co-sponsors of HR 620 (7 Republicans, 7 Democrats) 

    Learn more about disability culture and experiences through personal stories via Disability Visibility Project and about the importance of disabled people in public service via #CriptheVote.

    EDUCATE YOURSELF  

    HR 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (via Countable.us) 

    Overview of Concerns on HR 620 (via NDRN.org)

    Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Letter of Opposition for ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, HR 620 (via NDRN.org)

    People with Disabilities Battle Trump (via Workers World)

    Denham bill would fight ADA lawsuit abuse (via Central Valley Business Journal)

     

    Posted April 11, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman 

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1094: An identity group that any one of us might join at any time (Disability Rights)

  • Get in the Streets! Join #ScienceMarch on 4/22 & People's #ClimateMarch on 4/29 via @ScienceMarchDC and @Peoples_Climate

    Screen_Shot_2017-04-07_at_9.14.51_PM.pngIf you’ve been waiting for the second coming of the Women’s March, this could be it. Two major rallies, which both have had months of planning, preparation and outreach, are scheduled back to back weekends at the end of April. 

    On Earth Day, April 22nd, scientists around the world will march side-by-side with those who believe in science and want to defend it from climate deniers, religious extremists, oil and coal companies and the Trump administration - which, of course, is made up of representatives from all of those anti-science, special interest groups.  

    On the march website, the organizers wrote, “The march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?”  

    Go to MarchforScience.com to learn more about the details of the march and, if you can’t make it to DC, find one of the 480 satellite marches near you. You can also follow the march on Twitter @ScienceMarchDC.

    After the March for Science, you have a week to rest up and then get in the streets again for the second People’s Climate March.

    In 2014, we were proud to be some of over 400,000 people who marched in the streets of New York City for the first People’s Climate March on the eve of the UN Climate Summit, demanding urgent action on the global climate crisis. We made history and our numbers and voices could not be ignored. Limited - but important - progress was made.

    This second march, taking place on the 100th day of the Trump Administration, is a fight to protect those gains, however small, and continue to push to make the climate crisis impossible to ignore politically. 

    As with every single political issue, climate is intersectional. The march aims to

    • Advance solutions to the climate crisis [that are] rooted in racial, social and economic justice and committed to protecting front-line communities and workers.
    • Protect our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities and a world at peace.
    • Immediately stop attacks on immigrants, communities of color, indigenous and tribal people and lands and workers.
    • Ensure public funds and investments create good paying jobs that provide a family-sustaining wage and benefits and preserve workers’ rights, including the right to unionize.
    • Fund investments in our communities, people and environment to transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy that works for all.
    • Protect our basic rights to a free press, protest and free speech.

    Go to PeoplesClimate.org to learn more about the march and, if you can’t make it to DC, find one of the sister marches happening across the country and around the world. You can also follow the march on Twitter @Peoples_Climate. 

    So, if you believe in science and saving humanity from climate change, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Getting in the streets for the March for Science and the People’s Climate March via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

    As the People’s Climate Movement has always said, “to change everything, we need everyone.” So, let’s show up for our future…and claim it. 

     

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    April 22nd (Earth Day): March for Science Follow: @ScienceMarchDC

    April 29th (Trump’s 100th Day): People’s Climate March Follow: @Peoples_Climate

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Activists Announce People's Climate March (Huffington Post)

    Peoples Climate Movement Releases March Route (Common Dreams)

    Climate Justice Organizations Call for "People's Climate March" on April 29 (DemocracyNow!)

    Pussy Hats Making Way For Resistor Beanies In Science March (Huffington Post)

    This man in a space suit has a message for Earthlings (CNN)

    Congress’s one PhD-trained scientist will join march on Washington (STAT News)


    Posted April 7, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear the segment in context on Best of the Left Edition #1093: The Exxon President goes to war with the planet (Climate)

  • Demand the Trump Administration Take Action to Fight Anti-Semitism via @ADL_National

    No_place_for_hate.jpgLast week, all 100 members of the Senate sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI calling on them to address the string of bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Day Schools and Synagogues, and desecration of Jewish cemeteries, across the country. Around the same time 100 leaders of Jewish Community Centers wrote to Jeff Sessions expressing their frustration at the lack of federal level involvement in the investigations. 

    Days later, the Department of Homeland Security finally pledged to investigate these crimes. Though their more than two month delayed response has been duly noted by all. 

    The lack of any serious action by Trump and the Feds prompted the Anti-Defamation League to basically do the work for them. In a post on the ADL Blog and Medium, the CEO and National Director of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, proposed a nine point plan of action for the Trump administration to address anti-semitism, while also calling out Trump for his reluctance to address it.

    Greenblatt wrote, “Whether invective is coming from the Extreme Right or the Radical Left, it is irresponsible for leaders to shrug aside the slander and write off hateful threats or bomb scares as “empty hoaxes.” In an environment where there is no price to be paid for prejudice, bigots will continue to turn up the dial.”

    The ADL plan includes the appointment of a new White House coordinator for fighting hate, a DOJ directive encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to train officers on handling hate crimes, clarification from DHS on its Countering Violent Extremism program to ensure it encompasses all forms of extremism, increased Department of Education funding for anti-bias, anti-hate content in schools, and more. 

    You can make sure the Trump Administration is forced to address these proposed actions by sharing this plan widely on social media, as well as with your local Representatives, and especially your Senators, who all signed on to the letter to DHS, DOJ and the FBI. To see the post, go to the ADL Blog under the “News” tab on ADL dot org, or get the link from our show notes.

    Again, we want to ask that you help us in our work to amplify the most effective activism. If you have come across an action or a new organization that is doing great work getting people engaged to resist the Trump agenda, please share it with us by emailing Amanda@bestoftheleft.com.  

    The segment notes include all the links to this information as well as additional resources and, as always, this and every activism segment we produce is archived and organized under the activism tab at Best of the Left dot com. 

    So, if fighting hate in all its forms is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Demanding the Trump Administration Take Action to Fight Anti-Semitism via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

    There’s no better time to take a page out of Anne Frank’s Diary: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Share the ADL's 9 step plan for the Trump administration to fight anti-semitism on social media

    Send the plan to your Representatives and Senators and demand they fight for action 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    President Trump: Time for a Plan of Action to Fight the Surge of Anti-Semitism (ADL.org)

    Anti-Semitism in the United States (ADL.org)

    Letter from Senate to DOJ, DHS and FBI (Peters.senate.gov)

    Homeland Security Finally Vows To Fully Join Investigation Into ‘Hate-Inspired Attacks’ (Huffington Post)

    After a new wave of anti-Semitic attacks, White House appears skeptical about anti-Semitism (Vox)

    A Sixth Wave Of Bomb Threats Has Hit Jewish Centers Around The United States (BuzzFeed News)

    Muslim Fundraiser to Repair Jewish Cemetery Raises $100k (NBC News)

     

    Posted March 10, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1086: Unleashing the demons (Anti-Semitism)

  • Become a “Media Activist” via @FAIRmediawatch

    fair.jpgAs Trump continues his assault on the press, some have suggested that there might be a silver lining: maybe the mainstream corporate media will work harder, do real reporting and as a result become a better resource for citizens. Maybe...

    It’s still too early to tell and the corporate overlord influence may be too strong for real change to happen, but no matter how things turn out, we must always be active news consumers. That means calling out inaccuracies and bias when you see it and communicating directly with journalists to demand more responsible reporting. In the age of Trump, this has never been more important.  

    So we’d like to bring your attention to the non-profit organization FAIR, which stands for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. FAIR is the progressive organization behind the show CounterSpin, which you’ve probably heard clips from here on Best of the Left. This national media watch group has been offering well-documented criticism of the media for more than 30 years. FAIR’s mission includes fighting for greater diversity in the press, pushing for minority and dissenting viewpoints, scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, exposing neglected news stories, and defending working journalists when they are muzzled. They also believe that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong non-profit sources of information. Basically, they are total bad-asses.

    Now, here is where you come in. FAIR encourages the public to contact media with their concerns to become what they call “media activists,” rather than passive consumers, and provides the resources to do just that. Go to FAIR.org and check out the “Take Action” page, where the organization has a continuously updated lists of Action Alerts about issues in the media and the direct contact information you need to share your concerns with the outlet or journalists involved. You can also sign up to receive these action alerts via email so that you are always in the know. 

    FAIR also provides a Media Activism Kit that provides “how-to” guides for identifying, documenting and challenging unfair or inaccurate news coverage, along with information about something that is certainly close to my heart - how to promote independent media. There is a link to the kit on the Take Action page of the site. 

    Again, we want to ask that you help us in our work to amplify the most effective activism. If you have come across an action or a new organization that is doing great work getting people engaged to resist the Trump agenda, please share it with us by emailing Amanda@bestoftheleft.com.  

    So, if having an accurate, fair and free press is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about becoming a “media activist” via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too. 

    The press is critical to our democracy, but we must hold them to extraordinarily high expectations. Otherwise, as Orwell once said, it’s all just public relations.  

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Go to FAIR.org to get Action Alerts and become a “media activist”

    Check out FAIR’s Media Activism Kit 

    Subscribe to FAIR’s CounterSpin podcast

    Member of the media? Check out FAIR’s Media Advisories

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    NYT’s False Choice for Democrats: Move to the Right or Divide by Race (FAIR)

    Jessica Gonzalez on FCC Chair Ajit Pai (FAIR's CounterSpin)

    Scrutiny for Supreme Court Pick Fails to Focus on Rights of Disabled (FAIR)

    ACTION ALERT: WaPo’s Post Live Series Is a Love Letter to Corporate Conflicts of Interest (FAIR)

    Trump’s Inauguration and the Legitimacy Fetish (FAIR)

    Daily Kos Founder Gleefully Celebrates Coal Miners Losing Health Insurance (FAIR)

     

    Posted Feb. 17, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1080: Corporate media’s fight for legitimacy in the age of Trump

  • Tell Your Senators: Expose Jeff Sessions’ Anti-Civil Rights & Anti-Privacy History via @ACLU

    Screen_Shot_2017-01-06_at_7.36.28_PM.pngJeff Sessions has been around for a long time. In the 1980s, Reagan tapped Sessions for a judgeship, but the Republican Congress at the time rejected him due to his long history of racist comments and questions surrounding his unfounded prosecution of a black civil rights activist for voter fraud. Yea, he was too racist for 1980s Republicans. 

    Since then, Sessions has only revealed more about himself that proves he is in no way fit to fairly uphold the law or the constitution of this country. In fact, he has really gone out of his way to target or offend nearly everyone, while advocating for authoritarianism at every turn. 

    Here are just some of his views: He is opposed to key provisions of the voting rights act. He is anti bi-partisan sentencing reform, pro police militarization and thinks America is experiencing an all time crime high, despite all evidence to the contrary. He is pro boarder wall and the National Immigration Forum said, “Sessions is opposed to immigration as we know it. Full stop.” He is anti marijuana, and only disavowed the KKK when he learned its members smoked. He is anti-LGBT rights and has actively tried to protect discrimination against LGBT people. He is anti-abortion, voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and said that calling Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the genitals sexual assault was “a stretch.” He believes Islam is a “toxic ideology” and a “threat” and supports Trump’s proposed ban on immigration from Muslim countries. Oh, and he is also pro-torture. 

    And then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, there are his feelings about privacy. Even though many of his Republican colleagues supported it, Jeff Sessions fought against the bi-partisan bill to end the bulk collection of phone records. According to the ACLU, he has repeatedly pushed for greater surveillance authorities than law enforcement and intelligence agencies have even asked for. And when it comes to end-to-end encryption, Sessions is perhaps one of the fiercest critics out there - strongly backing the FBI in its case against Apple to force them to create back door access to the iPhone. 

    But despite all of this, on January 10th Sessions will yet again sit in front of members of Congress at his confirmation hearing - this time as Trump’s pick for Attorney General, the most powerful law enforcement office in the land. You can make sure every single bit of his dirty, anti-civil rights and anti-privacy laundry is exposed during this hearing by calling your Senators today, and often, to tell them how you feel about Sessions’ record, and to demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee leave no stone unturned when questioning Sessions at his hearing. Go to ACLU.org to read about Sessions record issue by issue, and then go to Senate.gov to find out how to reach your senator

    So if stopping a racist man with a long, documented history of fighting against your rights from becoming Attorney General is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Telling Your Senators to Expose Jeff Sessions’ Anti-Civil Rights and Anti-Privacy History via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

    Stand up. Fight back. There is no time to lose.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Call your Senators today and tell them why you oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

    Read ACLU’s “The Confirmation Sessions” for Jeff Sessions history, issue-by-issue 

    Call Senate Judiciary Committee Members who will question Sessions on January 10th.  

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    ACLU's "The Confirmation Sessions" (ACLU)

    Corporate Accountability Blunders Taint Sessions Record (Public Citizen)

    Trump and Sessions: Great for the Private Prison Industry, Terrible for Civil Rights (ACLU Blog)

    Jeff Sessions’ Nomination as Attorney General Alarms Civil Libertarians (Wired) 

    Trump’s attorney general pick could restart the encryption fight (The Verge)

    Trump's pick for attorney general: 'Good people don't smoke marijuana' (The Washington Post)

     

    Posted January 6, 20167; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman


    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1069: Trump and our National Security State (Civil Rights)

  • Get Community Activism Skills with Citizen Muscle Boot Camp via @storyofstuff

    Screen_Shot_2016-12-20_at_8.46.04_PM.pngEpisode #1066: "The economics of the greater good" is about getting a new perspective on multiple levels: the personal, one step up to your immediate surroundings like where you work, and all the way up to the societal and political level. But it’s important to always remember that these levels are all connected. As the student and feminist movement of the 1960’s taught us, the personal IS political.

    We do hope that you’ll take some of the ideas expressed in this episode and apply them to improve your own life on a personal level. But you can take it further than that. Depending on what you can and are willing to contribute, there are many things you can do, but one of the best things is to take action in your own community. Grassroots movements are the backbone of national change and we need an army of skilled changemakers to build those movements more than ever. 

    That sounds a bit daunting, right? So instead of giving you a single action to take today, we found to tool to help you become a citizen activist.

    Whether you’re new to activism, or just looking for a refresher course, we strongly encourage you to sign up for Citizen Muscle Boot Camp from The Story of Stuff Project. This free, online video course is designed to get you “flexing your Citizen Muscles” and building the skills you need to make change on the issues you care about in your communities. 

    Call it your new years resolution, call it the first step in your renewed determination in response to the election, call it whatever you want - but if you need a helping hand getting started then check out the Citizen Muscle Boot Camp. 

    The boot camp is hosted by Annie Leonard, founder of The Story of Stuff Project and current Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, and provides hands-on, interactive online exercises, and some additional tips and exercises to practice as you go about your day. All you need to participate is an internet connection and the willingness to spend about an hour or two a week for four weeks learning how to make the world a better place. 

    Head over to bootcamp.storyofstuff.org to register and start your training today. The sooner we can get started on making change in our own communities, the better we all will be. 

    If having effective skills and tools to create change on the personal, communal and societal levels is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about the Citizen Muscle Boot Camp via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

    Get trained. Stand up. Fight back. There is no time to lose.

    TAKE ACTION 

    Register for the free, online Citizen Muscle Boot Camp

    INSPIRE YOURSELF

    After the Election: We Keep Pushing Forward (Story of Stuff Project Blog)

    She Was Just One Person…Until She Joined Up with Her Neighbors to Take on Nestlé (Story of Stuff Project Blog)

    All Hands on Deck! How We'll Move Forward in 2017 (Story of Stuff Project Blog)

     

    Posted December 20, 2016, written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear this segment in the context of the latest Best of the Left Edition #1066: The economics of the greater good

     

  • Tell the Electoral College to #StopTrump & Vote with the People via @DemSpring and directelection.org

    Save_democracy.jpgWe are not here to give you false hope. It is, by all accounts, very unlikely that enough electoral college electors will change their vote and keep Trump from becoming our next president. However, just because something is unlikely or unprecedented doesn’t mean it can’t happen….Just look at the results of our election.

    Regardless of the outcome, what we do between now and inauguration day matters. We need to show Trump, his cronies, the Republicans backing him, the mainstream media and the rest of the dumbfounded world that the majority of this country rejects Trump and everything he stands for. We need to show them that he does not have a mandate. How do we do that? We get in the streets and let our voices be heard.  

    So in the early morning of Monday, December 19th - the day the electoral college will cast their votes and truly end this election - make sure you’re at your state capitol building to join Democracy Spring and millions of your fellow Americans. Democracy Spring, of get-money-out-of-politics fame, is organizing rallies at the state capitol buildings in all 50 states on the 19th to call on the electors to vote their conscience and protect our democracy. Tell everyone you know and bring everyone you know. The size of these crowds matters. Head over to savedemocracy.org to get the details on the Democracy Spring December 19th action at a state capitol building near you and RSVP today.

    But wait, there’s more…

    There’s not much time left, but before December 19th you can actually write directly to the electors themselves. Directelection.org is a website put together by a guy from New York who, like millions of others, is terrified of a Trump presidency. The website gives you all of the tools you need to send polite, persuasive, actual mail to 273 Trump-pledged electors - or as many as you can afford the postage for.

    This well organized site has everything you need to make this a simple process. It has ready-to-print, customizable mail-merge documents in Microsoft Word and a set of ready-to-print Avery Standard fifty-one sixty labels for envelopes. All you have to do is download, add your name and address, and customize the letters further if you want. Then just print, sign, put them in envelopes, address the envelopes, apply stamps, and mail.

    The standard letter is respectful, but clearly points out the duty of the Electoral College - yes, it quotes Hamilton - and why Trump is unfit for office and will likely be impeached. Materials and cost of postage are on you - and you will probably need to pay extra for rush service to make sure the letters get there in time - but everything else is at your fingertips for free. 

    So if doing everything you can to protect democracy and reject a Trump presidency is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about telling the Electoral College to #StopTrump and vote with the people via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

    Stand up. Fight back. There is absolutely no time to lose.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    RSVP for the Democracy Spring December 19th rally at a state capitol building near you at savedemocracy.org

    ASAP ONLY! Download everything you need to print and mail letters to the 273 Electoral College members pledged to vote for Trump at directelection.org

    EDUCATE YOURSELF 

    Posted December 13, 2016, written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.
     
    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1064: Desperate times, desperate measures
  • Call on President Obama to Make Standing Rock a National Monument #NODAPL

    Screen_Shot_2016-12-06_at_7.37.18_PM.pngWhile the news that the Army Corps of Engineers denied the final permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline and will be producing an environmental-impact statement is a huge victory for the water protectors, this is not over yet. We have less than 7 weeks - not including the upcoming slew of Federal holidays - to push President Obama to make Standing Rock a national monument through the power of the Antiquities Act. 

    A proclamation under the Antiquities Act is not the same as an Executive Order, which could be easily undone by Trump. Congress would have to pass a bill abolishing the monument, Trump would have to sign the bill into law, and then the courts would have the final say. The courts have a long history of supporting the Antiquities Act when challenged, but at the very least the legal battle would take time.

    Every day has been harder and colder for the heroic water protectors in North Dakota, who have been viciously and unjustly attacked while they remain unarmed. Meanwhile, President Obama could end all of this and come out on the right side of history with the stroke of a pen.

    If you’ve been joining the demonstrations of thousands across the country in support of Standing Rock, it’s easy to feel like everyone is paying attention. Let me assure you they are not. The media is still distracted by the inflammatory tweets of the same man that has captured them like a cat with a laser pointer for the last year. By all means, we must keep getting out in the streets, but let’s also spend time urging our outgoing president to wield a valuable tool at his disposal that he has already used more than any other president in history. 

    So, pick up your phone and call the White House today to tell President Obama to protect the water that millions rely on by making Standing Rock a national monument. The number to call the White House with your comments is 202-456-1111

    We also urge you to email the President by going to the contact page of whitehouse.gov and to write and mail hand-written letters to the president. We know that he reads 10 of the public’s letters every night that his team selects as representative of all the emails and letters that come in the door. Let’s make sure he is getting letters about his moral obligation to make Standing Rock a national monument every…single…night. 

    So if protecting our water from Big Oil is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Calling on President Obama to Make Standing Rock a National Monument via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

    Stand up. Fight back. There is no time to lose.

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Call the White House comments line at 202-456-1111

    Get the info to write to the President by visiting the contact page on whitehouse.gov

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    The Historic Victory at Standing Rock (The Atlantic)

    Standing Rock: Tulsi Gabbard on What the Dakota Pipeline Decision Means (Rolling Stone) 

    FAQ: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline (Earth Justice)

    President Obama: Declare a "Standing Rock" national monument to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (Our Revolution)

     

    Posted December 6, 2016, written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear this segment in the context of the latest Best of the Left Edition #1062: Defend the Sacred Dakota Access Pipeline

  • #BoycottWendys Until They Join the Fair Food Program via @CIW

    CuaWb1XWAAEUpHd.jpgIf concern for your health isn't usually enough to keep you away from Wendy's then maybe their labor rights abuses are. Right now, there is a farmworker union-led national boycott of the fast food giant and these activists need your support. 

    It turns out Wendy’s is not one of 14 corporate retailers in what is called the “Fair Food Program.” According to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (or CIW) leading the boycott, the Fair Food Program (which they created) is a “unique partnership” between farmworkers, farmers and companies like McDonalds, Taco Bell and Walmart that exists to root out abuse and sexual harassment in agricultural fields from coast to coast. 

    But not only has Wendy’s not joined, they…well, they are kind of being dicks about it. 

    First, they started getting their tomatoes from Mexico to circumvent Fair Foods and avoid scrutiny from US regulators. That means they are now supporting farms where workers confront wage theft, sexual harassment, poor living conditions, child labor and even slavery without any protections.

    Then, adding insult to injury, Wendy’s recently published a “Code of Conduct” for suppliers that leaves out the two major components of the Fair Food Program: worker participation and verifiable enforcement mechanisms for standards. So, it basically amounts to just a bunch of empty, vague promises. 

    You can support this boycott by, you guessed it, not eating at Wendy’s until they join the Fair Food Program…and by visiting allianceforfairfood.org to learn more and sign the Wendy’s Boycott pledge. And of course, you can spread the word via social media using the hashtag #BoycottWendys.

    While you’re at it, consider making worker’s rights and protections part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like Alliance for Fair Food, Farmworker Justice, Fight for 15, Jobs with Justice, Good Jobs Nation and other organizations fighting for worker justice for all.

    So if supporting the efforts of labor unions and all agricultural workers is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about boycotting Wendy’s until they join the Fair Food Program via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    DON'T EAT AT WENDY'S!

    Learn more about the reasons for the boycott at allianceforfairfood.org

    Sign the pledge to boycott Wendy's 

    Attend a "Behind the Braids: Wendy's Boycott Tour" event near you 

    Spread the word on social media via #BoycottWendys

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    There is a Nationwide Boycott of Wendy's Underway (via The Nation)

    Students Declare Nationwide Boycott of Wendy's Over Farmworker Concerns (via The American Prospect)

    Dear Wendy's: I'm boycotting you, but I'm not the one you should be worried about (via Common Dreams)

     

    Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the activism segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1050: "Unions or not, we are still all in this together"

  • Support Prison Strikers by Joining Actions Around the Country

    Its_Going_Down_Prison_Strike.jpgAs you’ve heard today, the largest prison strike in history is happening right now. And if you’re listening to this wondering why you haven’t heard much of anything about it, you’re not alone. The mainstream media is hardly covering it.

    For the last month, inmates at prisons around the US refused to show up for their prison mandated jobs, where they make pennies by the hour - or in some states nothing - at the benefit of major companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart. They have nothing in the way of worker’s rights or worker protections or the ability to form unions….and our 13th amendment says that’s okay. 

    FreeAlabamaMovement.wordpress.com is the website run by the inmates at the Alabama prison spearheading this aptly named “Freedom Movement.” The site’s announcement of the strike proclaimed, “In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.”

    These inmates are striking in the face of retaliation. We already know that some have been put in isolation for their actions, but a few have been able to bravely speak to reporters via contraband phones. But while the rest of the media largely ignores the strike and prison wardens deny that anything serious is going on, calls for more public support are surfacing. 

    ItsGoingDown.org is a citizen-driven, repository of news and analysis on all kinds of acts of rebellion and revolt in North America. A post on this site is calling for a resurgence of actions in our communities October 15th to 22nd to show support for the inmates and amplify their message. You can find an action near you at the bottom of that post, or create an action and submit it to ItsGoingDown.org to be posted. 

    The New Yorker is one of the few major publications talking about the strike. In their article, an Alabama inmate said, “I want to clarify that it is not ‘slave-like conditions’ in prison labor—this is actually institutional slavery. Slavery was always about exploiting the labor of lower-class people in this country.”

    From private prisons, to the school to prison pipeline, to the rights of prisoners and former prisoners, to criminal justice reform, we have a long way to go when it comes to upending our state of incarceration rooted in America’s institutional racism. So make these issues part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like The Advancement Project, the ACLU, the Brennan Center for JusticeFair Vote, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations working to achieve racial justice. 

    As Nelson Mandela once said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” So if you want to work toward a society we can all be proud of, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting prison strikers by joining actions around the country via social media so that others in your network can take action too. 

    TAKE ACTION

    Read the call to action post on ItsGoingDown.org and find an event near you at the bottom of the post.

    Create your own local action to support the prison strikes and submit it to be posted by emailing info@itsgoingdown.org. 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    Why Prisoners Across the Country Have Gone on Strike (via Mother Jones)

    "We're Freedom Fighters": The Story of the Nationwide Prison Labor Strike (via truthout)

    The biggest national prison strike in American history is happening now (via Daily Kos)

    Meet the inmate who launched a massive prison strike from his jail cell (via Vice)

    A National Strike Against "Prison Slavery" (via The New Yorker)

    DOJ Launches Investigation of Alabama Mens' Prison (via AL.com) 

    Free Alabama Movement  (website of the inmates spearheading the strike in Alabama)

    IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (unrecognized union for incarcerated prison workers)

     

    Posted October 7, 2016 * Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1048: Slavery in America is alive and well (prison labor) 

  • Join a Local Democracy @ Work Action Group via @Democracyatwrk

    If you don’t know much about the implementation or inner workings of worker-owned co-ops, it’s not your fault. You can blame our one-track mind economists and capitalist obsessed society for that. But if we are going to demand an alternative solution to capitalism, we need to learn more about the other options and spread the word with those in your community. 

    That is why Democracy At Work, an advocacy organization founded by Richard Wolf - economist and host of the podcast Economic Update - encourages people across the country to start and get involved in Democracy at Work Action Groups in their community.

    Democracy At Work Action Groups are built on the belief that everyday community leaders can influence policy, politics and culture through action and advocacy on the local and national level. To find an Action Group in your area, visit democracyatwork.info/groups to view the map of existing Action Groups across the country. If you don’t see one near you and would like to start one, you can send an email to Democracy At Work’s group organizer at betsy@democracyatwork.com.

    Make fighting for a new economic system part of your theory of change by getting involved with organizations like Democracy At Work, The Next System Project and by reading the publication Truth Out.

    Leading up to the election, we want to give you the resources, knowledge and inspiration to get involved and stay involved beyond November. Because no matter who wins the Presidency, as progressives, we always need to be prepared to fight for what is right…That’s what keeps bending that arc of the moral universe toward justice. 

    So, if creating a new economic system that works for everyone is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about joining Democracy At Work Action Groups via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Find or start a Democracy At Work Action Group in your area at http://www.democracyatwork.info/groups

    Follow Democracy At Work on Twitter at @Democracyatwrk 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF 

    Economic Update Podcast

    The Next System Project 

    Truth Out  

    Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear the clip in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1039: "What worker coops can do for us"

  • Break Free 2016 #KEEPITINTHEGROUND - A Global Wave of Resistance to Keep Coal, Oil and Gas in the Ground via @350

    Humanity is at a critical turning point. If we want a viable future, there is only one thing we can do: shut down the fossil fuel industry. That means millions of people joining communities on the front lines in mass, global civil disobedience right on the doorsteps of the largest, most dangerous fossil fuel projects in the world. And you can do that…RIGHT NOW…by joining 350.org's Break Free 2016, happening now through May 15th at a strategically selected fossil fuel project site near you.

    Break Free 2016 is focusing on specific locations for its global actions because...

    “...fighting climate change requires the courage to confront polluters where they think they are most powerful. For years, communities on the front lines have led that struggle, and this May we can join them.”

    In the US, the top actions will take place at the following locations: 

    Pacific Northwest action - Anacortes, WA

    Northeast action - Albany, NY 

    Midwest action - Chicago Area, IL

    Western action - Denver, CO 

    Southwest action - Los Angeles, CA

    Mid-Atlantic action - Washington, DC

    If these action locations are not close to you, the organizers encourage you to organize buses, trains and bike-pools to the event in your region of the country. If you absolutely can’t make it to one of the primary actions, you can look for actions popping up in major cities near you, or organize your own as part of Break Free. Visit BreakFree2016.org to sign up and get further details on the actions nearest you, and use the hashtag #BreakFree2016 and #KeepitintheGround to join the conversation online. 

    So, if the future of humanity is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Break Free 2016 via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.

    No matter how much money they make, fossil fuel giants can’t drown out the voices of millions. So join the global movement and let’s break free from fossil fuels once and for all.

    Watch "DISOBEDIENCE," a new film from 350.org

     

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find and sign up for a targeted action near you at breakfree2016.org

    Learn more about organizing your own action

    Get inspired by the latest 350.org film “Disobedience”  

    Join the conversation online via the hashtags #BreakFree2016 and #Keepitintheground 

    Follow @350 on Twitter for the latest updates on the action and other news

    Donate to support the work of 350.org

     

    Sources/further reading: 

    4 Reasons Now is our Chance to Break Free from Fossil Fuels (via BreakFree2016.org)

    Bill McKibbon: Global Warming's Terrifying New Chemistry (via The Nation)

    Inside the Paris Climate Deal (via The New York Times)

    President Obama's Climate Action Plan Infographic (via WhiteHouse.gov)

    Bill McKibbon: Why We Need to Keep 80% of Fossil Fuels in the Ground (via Yes!)

    Fossil Giant BP Sees Fourth-Quarter Profits Sink Nearly 70% (via Smarter Shift)

     

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #1011: "Deception vs. Disobedience"

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.

  • Nationwide Next System Teach-Ins via @TheNextSystem

    Silicon Valley companies talk a lot about “disrupting” the market, but side-stepping regulations that protect the public and ignoring basic worker rights doesn’t make a company “revolutionary” or “innovative” - it just hurts everyone. Any common criminal can operate a business in this way and no one would praise them for it. It’s the money they make that blinds us to their deep flaws. 

    But the system we live in is structured to help and reward those who are out to make a buck, while hindering those who value working collectively toward a better future for all. That’s why we need a new system. 

    The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in the future. Working with a broad group of researchers, theorists and activists, they seek to launch a national debate on the nature of “the next system.” Using the best research, understanding and strategic thinking, on-the-ground organizing and development experience, their goal is to refine and publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models - fundamentally different from anything we’ve seen before - that are capable of delivering superior social, economic and ecological outcomes.

    But if you’re thinking “I’m not an economist!” or “I’ll leave that up to the people in charge,” think again. This project is about you, and your thoughts and ideas. That’s why this spring, The Next System Project launched “Next System Teach-Ins” at colleges and universities across the country. These teach-ins aim to engage students, faculty and the local community in a practical, participatory forum for study, debate and organizing around pressing social, political and economic issues.

    The inaugural Teach-ins in Madison, Wisconsin and in New York City (#WhatsNextNYC) took place in early March,  but this April there are Teach-ins scheduled across the country. To find one near you or register to host one where you live, visit teachins.thenextsystem.org.

    So, if fundamentally changing our broken economic, political and social systems is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Next System Teach-Ins via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.

    Look, we can still hate the players, but the bottom line is we have to upend the game. Help create a system that works for us all.

     

    TAKE ACTION:

    Activism Resources: 

    Find a Next System Teach-In near you or register to host one where you live at http://teachins.thenextsystem.org 

    Learn more about the The Next System Project and sign their statement.

    Follow The Next System Project on Twitter @TheNextSystem for the latest updates and use '#NextSystem' to join the conversation.

    Share this video about The Next System Project:

    Further Reading:

    Not Cool Uber (via Dave Craige on Medium.com)

    Sharing Economy Isn’t About Sharing - The Dark Reality Behind This Major Workplace Shift (via Alternet) 

    Uber on the Road to Nowhere - Uber Drivers are getting creative in their fight for basic workplace rights (via American Prospect)  

    Latest News/Actions: 

    Seattle Passes Law Letting Uber, Lyft Drivers Unionize (via Reuters) 

    Fed up Uber Drivers Aim to Disrupt Super Bowl 50 - With their Own Mobile App (via Mother Jones)

    Jakarta Taxi Drivers Protest Against Uber and Grab  (via BBC)

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #1003: http://www.bestoftheleft.com/_1003_capitalism

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman 

  • Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Stop the Fast Track of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    It appears there is something the president and the GOP-lead Congress can agree is a good idea: ceding our nation’s economic autonomy to an international corporate conglomerate in a trade deal that has been repeatedly called “NAFTA on steroids.”

    As Lori Wallach reported in The Nation back when the TPP first got press almost three years ago, the agreement is essentially an assault on democracy.

    Wallach wrote:

    "Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars.”

    The Obama administration has asked Congress to “Fast Track” legislation to approve the trade deal. Fast track authority accelerates the process by which a bill becomes law by preventing amendments and only requiring a majority vote in the senate, rather than the now typical supermajority. Most of the Congressional Democratic Caucus is opposed to Fast Track for the TPP, but there may not be enough republican opposition to prevent it from happening without public outcry — which is going to be hard to drum up because trade deals are BORING.

    Super important and super boring. As our friend Lee Camp says: “boring evil is The Worst.” It’s terrifyingly easy to get things past a busy, struggling or apathetic public when words like “trade deals” and “tax policy” and …. There, see? I’ve lost you.

    The Communication Workers of America are making it easy to care and easy to act. Their petition at MoveOn.org simply says: "Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs.” You can find it at the MoveOn homepage, then just click and sign to tell your representatives you expect them to vote no on Fast Track authority.

    The CWA is also phone banking to let legislators know they oppose thoughtlessly approving a corporate power grab that would eliminate their jobs. If you want to join them, simply dial 855-980-2256 and enter your zip code when prompted. You will be connected to your rep’s staffer to whom you simply say:

    "I'm a constituent and I've had enough of bad trade deals negotiated in secret like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Congress needs to read the deal and not vote to Fast Track it before even knowing what's in it. I urge you to vote no on Fast Track authority for the TPP.”

    Simple. Direct. And, yes, legislators do still keep a record of calls on issues and House members are pretty much already running again and need to listen when you call.

    Opposing Fast Track won’t stop the TPP from eventually becoming law. It will, however, make the process public and lengthier and give less engaged citizens an opportunity to hear about the deal and weigh in. As part of the highly engaged and involved group within the citizenry, it’s basically on us to run around sounding the alarm. Visit MoveOn.org, sign, and then share the petition.

    Update!

    Obama administration asks for fast tracking of TPP: "Democrats oppose Obama's demand for fast-tracking Pacific trade deal” by Siri Srinivas at The Guardian

    Follow-up/new Action!

    SIGN: Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs via MoveOn.org and the CWA

    Sources/further reading:

    ”Tell Your Congress Member: No Fast Track For the TPP!” via the Communications Workers of America

    "NAFTA on Steroids: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant enormous new powers to corporations, is a massive assault on democracy” by Lori Wallach at The Nation

    "The Top Secret Deal Between 11 Countries That Will Affect Your Life" - MOC #186Lee Camp

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #896 "Resisting global corporate takeover (Trans-Pacific Partnership)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #SaveSusiya via Jewish Voice For Peace ( @jvplive ) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Save Susiya.

    Susiya is a Palestinian village in Hebron Hills — part of the Occupied West Bank. Over the summer it was marked for imminent demolition by the Israeli army, which would have displaced 340 people. A campaign by Rebuilding Alliance and other groups lead to protests in the European Union and lead to Israel lifting the demolition date, but with violence continuing — over 2000 Palestinians have been injured since the beginning of October, the village is hardly safe from destruction.

    Just since the beginning of October, over 2000 Palestinians have been injured and 77 have been killed. Illegal settlements in the West Bank fuel the clashes. Prime Minister Netanyahu attempted to downplay the size of the illegal settlements at the Center For American Progress this week, saying that settlement construction has made up a tiny fraction of built up land — around one-tenth of one percent. The reality is that settlements technically cover one percent of the West Bank, but with ten percent of the West Bank included in what’s called the “municipal area,” around 40% of the land is off-limits to Palestinians with hundreds of kilometers of roads that further divide and destroy Palestinian territory.

    Jewish Voice for Peace — who’s mission includes seeking an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East — has a petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking John Kerry to pressure the Israeli government to prevent the destruction of Susiya and recognize the right of the Palestinian families who live there to plan their futures on the land they rightfully own.

    A recent Mic.com photo essay — "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” — shows why Jewish Voice for Peace and others have left up their campaigns in support of Susiya despite the threat of demolition being downgraded from imminent to “on hold.” The terrain that very young school children must navigate is overshadowed only by the threat of harassment and violence.

    It isn’t enough that the demolition equipment isn’t currently stationed at Susiya’s edge. When our government regularly reminds the world that we are “a friend to Israel,” the violence and human rights atrocities committed in the West Bank have our name on them. Sign the petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking Secretary Kerry to step in. You can also follow the #EndTheOccupation hashtag to keep up on the latest not reported by our corporate media.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: Tell John Kerry to Defend Susiya! via Jewish Voice for Peace

    FOLLOW: #EndTheOccupation & #IsraeliIncitement

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN: "Free Political Refugees Hisham Shaban Ghalia and Mounis Hammouda From ICE custody” via Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    5 Questions Prime Minister Netanyahu Should be Asked Today via Amnesty International

    "Families from threatened Palestinian villages Susiya and Um al-Kheir bring their stories to the US” at Mondoweiss

    "Israel, Don’t Level My Village” — Nasser Nawaja at The New York Times

    "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” at Mic.com

    "Mapping the dead in latest Israeli-Palestinian violence”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #968 "The continuing quagmire of an apartheid state (Israel/Palestine)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #KeystoneXL Victory Update & #ActInParis via @sierraclub — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: Keystone XL Victory and the Road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

    Keystone XL is officially dead.

    Thanks to activism lead by extraordinarily brave and relentless Indigenous People across the continent and climate activists refusing to give up and willing to risk repeated arrest over several years, President Obama has announced that Keystone will not go forward. Take time to sign the Sierra Club’s #ThanksObama note — it took years, but he did finally (mostly) listen and keep the project from being completed.

    Rejecting Keystone is an important step not just for the long term goals of campaigns like 350.org’s Divest From Fossil Fuels and Sierra Club’s #‎KeepItInTheGround, but as a political optics move ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris at the end of this month. It’s easier for the U.S. to ask other nations to curb their pollution in an attempt to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate change if we are taking visible steps of our own.

    As was covered just a few weeks ago on this show, international organizations like 350.org have co-organized the upcoming Global Climate March on November 28th and 29th. You can find the action in your area or help put one together — still plenty of time — by visiting 350.org/Paris.

    If you are unable to march — and not everyone is, the Sierra Club has some great visibility boosting actions. At ActInParis.org as well as on the hashtag #ActInParis you can find updates on goals for the talks, check out the “Best of the Best” from commitments countries have made ahead of the talks, and read what international faith leaders are saying in support of bold action in Paris. Even if you aren’t religious, you know you have those friends and family in your networks who are swayed by the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and other recognizable figures. Frankly, even for the non-religious, it’s pretty inspiring to see unity among Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu leaders from around the world.

    As expected there’s a social media campaign — but it has an “in the real world” twist. People who submit photos of themselves holding a sign with the #ActInParis hashtag through Twitter and/or Instagram will not only show public support for strong action at the summit, they’ll become part of a collage that’s GOING TO the summit. The Sierra Club is posting what will hopefully be a sizable pictorial display of people from around the world demanding their leaders get something real accomplished this year.

    Looking ahead to next year — which is right around the corner, 350.org has actions already planned to follow up on the Paris talks; you can get all that information at 350.org/Paris.

    Update!

    #KeystoneXL Victory! "KEYSTONE XL VICTORY: TO WIN A FIGHT, YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE: Obama’s pipeline rejection a huge win for citizen action” via Sierra Club

    Follow-up/new(ish) Action!

    #ActInParis for bold climate action with Sierra Club

    Snap a selfie and “go to” Paris with Sierra Club’s #ActInParis Photo Campaign

    SIGN on to 350.org’s Plan Through Paris

    SIGN to say #ThanksObama for rejecting #KeystoneXL!

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #967 "Going to Paris with our heads held somewhat high (Climate)"

    Revisit the original actions/segments:

    #GlobalClimateMarch via @350

    Tar Sands Resistance March #stoptarsands

    #KeystoneXL Under Congressional #Climate Deniers

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #GlobalClimateMarch via @350 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #GlobalClimateMarch.

    The United Nations is preparing for climate negotiations in Paris this December and, predictably, 350.org has been active ahead of time.

    “The Road Through Paris” campaign is so-named because the pressure will need to continue beyond the summit. As 350.org’s campaign page says: "No matter what happens at the summit, this will continue to be true: Politicians don’t lead movements — people do.”

    2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history — which will make this the third record-breaking year in a row. The UN Secretary General says he’s on board, telling the press that we need to "accelerate investments in clean energy and spur a global, low-carbon transformation well before the end of the century, consistent with a below 2 degrees Celsius pathway.”

    350.org is looking to hold them to that and more with specific milestones. Their goal is to get world leaders to make a deal that’s “in line with the imperatives of science and justice.” They’re demanding that 80% of fossil fuels stay in the ground and financing for a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. These are ambitious goals and everyone has to get involved in a visible show of support to put the necessary weight behind the demands.

    Next up is the Global Climate March November 28th and 29th — info on the specifics in your area can be found at 350.org/global-climate-march. It’s the weekend before the talks start and, while the biggest action is happening in Paris itself, people are participating around the globe.

    350.org optimistically calls this a possible turning point — but only if we push for it. Visit 350.org and join up with the Global Climate March happening near you, or access resources to start your own.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Join the next 350.org #RoadThroughParis event: The #GlobalClimateMarch

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    GoFossilFree.org’s push ahead of the Paris summit: Register Your Divestment from fossil fuels

    Sources/further reading:

    "Leaders Discuss Deeper Engagement for Strong Climate Agreement in Paris”

    "Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point: It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants.”

    via Bloomberg

    "Demolishing The 7 Myths Propping Up Fossil Fuels: It's time to set the record straight.” via Huffington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #962 "Building momentum to and through Paris (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Automatic Voter Registration via @BrennanCenter — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Automatic Voter Registration.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have enacted new voting restrictions in the last five years. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election.

    As these voter disenfranchisements have spread, however, a handful of states are attempting to expand access to the ballot. Oregon passed automatic voter registration in March and California followed suit last week. New Jersey’s legislature sent their bill to the governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.

    After Governor Jerry Brown signed the law, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla tweeted an obvious, but apparently necessary declaration: “Democracy is stronger when more citizens can vote!”

    As voting rights guru Ari Berman reported at The Nation this week:

    "You’d think that would be a truism in a democracy, but unfortunately far too many states under Republican control have enacted new laws making it harder to vote in recent years. From 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states...It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a quarter of Americans–51 million citizens–are not registered to vote. Let’s hope more states follow the model of California.”

    There is a push — lead by the Brennan Center — for national automatic voter registration. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced The Automatic Voter Registration Act this summer and 45 cosponsors have signed on in support. There are also a number of bills circulating through state legislatures that would eliminate the barrier of having to affirmatively register to vote.

    Voter expansion has leaked into the presidential race with candidate Hillary Clinton calling for widespread reform and criticizing republican candidates for supporting restrictions. Right now is THE time to raise awareness and push the issue on a national level.

    You can find the full list of bills in the Brennan Center’s "Automatic Voter Registration” post which is part of their “Voting Rights and Elections” section of the “Issues” tab at BrennanCenter.org, or by clicking the link in the segment notes. Use ContactingTheCongress.org to drop your national representatives a note asking them to support The Automatic Voter Registration Act and find your state reps at OpenStates.Org to support voter expansion where you live.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws

    Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation

    "Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times

    "Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill

    "Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal

    "Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times

    "Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #961 "Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW via @cut_50 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW.

    1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more likely to go to prison than college.

    Over the course of this year, those stats — straight out of Cut50’s campaign supporting bipartisan criminal justice reform — have lead to an unlikely alliance of traditional ideological adversaries like The ACLU and Koch Industries. With the left and the right backing a reduction in the inmate population, legislation has actually been introduced in the House and Senate.

    As reported in NPR, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, is behind the bill because: "The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'tough on crime' movement and is the best indication we have that those days are over.”

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums is also supporting the legislation. President Julie Stewart acknowledges that it isn’t perfect, but says "it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices.”

    The House bill — the SAFE Justice Act — and the Senate bill — the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — propose system-wide reforms to reduce over-criminalization, enhance rehabilitation, support individuals’ rebuilding after prison terms, reform federal prison sentencing, and reduce automatic and harsh punishments like “three strikes” laws.

    Visit JusticeReformNow.org to sign the Cut50 petition, which is approaching 200,000 signatures — it turns out criminal justice reform is also popular with celebrity activists and the general public! You can also join in demanding that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America by following the #JusticeReformNOW & #Cut50 hashtags.

    We already know this Congress is loathe to do anything besides push deadlines on the budget and investigate Planned Parenthood without a public outcry. Let’s make sure they can hear us loud and clear.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America” via #cut50

    Sources/further reading:

    "FAMM: House Sentencing Reform Compromise Another Step in Right Direction” via Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — the full legislation

    "Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform” via NPR

    "Senators Announce Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — announcement from the Judiciary Committee

    "Senate Introduces ‘Gamechanger’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill” via Time

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #959 "The need to do better (Mass Incarceration)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 via @DemandProgress & @OpenCongress — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: supporting the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.

    No matter your conspiracy or frustration-level with Big Pharma, everyone who’s ever filled a prescription knows the medication part of our health “care” system is seriously jacked.

    To address several of the factors that spike drug prices in the U.S., Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings introduced legislation last month, aptly and simply named “The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.”

    The bullet points include:

    • Allowing U.S. residents to import lower-cost medications from Canada
    • Encouraging Medicare to negotiate medication prices with drugmakers — something private insurance companies do regularly, but Medicare does not
    • Requiring drug manufacturers to disclose prices for treatments they sell in other countries
    • Requiring drugmakers to submit annual reports detailing how drug prices are set — including research and development costs and such
    • And eradicating any existing market-exclusivity periods for medications that should never have been granted — i.e. that asshole you’ve heard about a ton in this episode.
    • And eradicating any existing market-exclusivity periods for medications that should never have been granted — i.e. that asshole you’ve heard about a ton in this episode.

    This legislation is better than spending-neutral; it would save the federal government money and provide better access to life-saving and life-improving health care. It should be a both-sides-of-the-aisle winner. Of course, that sort of thing is mostly a pipe dream these days without significant public pressure. And that means your voice is needed.

    You can click “support,” contact your legislators directly, & track the House and Senate bills through GovTrack.us. Progressive direct action group Demand Progress also has a petition in support of the legislation through the link in the segment notes — also posted on the Demand Progress social media feeds.

    It’s long past time people weren’t choosing between food and medication or housing and medication or doing without treatment with the power to vastly improve every aspect of their lives. There will be plenty left for the drug manufacturers after these reforms; we’re simply asking for them to conduct their business ethically.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Sign the Demand Progress petition to Congress: "Tell Congress to pass Bernie Sanders's bill to rein in prescription drug costs!”

    Track the legislation & contact legislators: in the Senate & in the House via GovTrack.us

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Send your legislator a letter through OpenCongress.org

    Episode #958 "Where the market should not be allowed to tread (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #WeWantDebate in #Election2016 via @Lessig2016 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Let Lessig Debate.

    If you haven’t heard — and with the media blackout you likely haven’t, Lawrence Lessig is running for president. He’s running on a single issue: campaign reform. He’s said that he wants to hold office for a very brief period of time, telling U.S. News & World Report: "My vice president, I want to be president as soon as possible.”

    Lessig’s plan would be to enact election reform within the first year and then turn the office over to his running mate, but he’s resisting the term “protest candidate.” He wants to run and win, calling Congress “the fundamental weakness in our democracy,” largely because of political corruption.

    Lessig would make voter registration automatic, get rid of photo I.D. requirements and change Election Day to a weekend for better accessibility. He would also restructure congressional elections by creating multi-member districts and restricting government officials’ ability to become lobbyists.

    He’s certainly not the only person who thinks that no other issue is solvable until there’s a radical fix to the system that doesn’t just allow candidates to be purchased, but demands they spend at least as much time fundraising as governing just to stay in office. However, despite a fast start to his campaign, Lessig is not likely to be allowed in the Democratic debates.

    You can sign his campaign's “Let Lessig Debate" petition at Lessig2016.us to let the Democratic National Committee and corporate media know you want the democratic debates to be, well, democratic. Lessig spoke at the New Hampshire Party Convention along with the other candidates and he’s raised over $1 million in under a month from close to 10,000 people — surely there is room for his voice in the debates.

    It’s unlikely that without Lessig’s presence, the foundational issue of election reform will be addressed at all. So, whether you would support him as the nominee or not, take the time to sign the petition at Lessig2016.us to ensure that the other candidates and the media cannot ignore our broken system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the petition: Let Lessig Debate! from the Lessig2016 campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Democrat Debate Controversy: Will Lawrence Lessig Be Included?” via Forbes

    "Larry Lessig Seeks A Single Issue, Single Year Presidency” via U.S.News and World Report

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #957 "Citizens demanding equal power (Money in politics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FindYourPark on National @PublicLandsDay — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: National Public Lands Day.

    It’s no secret green space is vanishing. Enjoying nature for nature’s sake is lost on most people these days. For some of us it’s because we’re creatures of habit, for other’s it’s how the hamster wheel of capitalism sucks up almost all of our time.

    This week, use National Public Lands Day as an excuse to take a breath and do something that’s as good for you as it is for nature. Saturday, September 26 is set aside as the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. It’s hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation and signing up to volunteer at PublicLandsDay.org earns you a “fee-free” coupon to visit any federal site. For some public lands that even includes accompanying passengers in a car.

    What started as three events and 700 volunteers 17 years ago has grown to over 2000 events and more than 175,000 volunteers. Last year alone, NPLD volunteers removed 500 tons of trash, built and maintained 1,500 miles of trail, and contributed an estimated $18 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country. This year’s events include planting trees and shrubs; educational and recreational activities like kayaking, birding and camping; and locale-specific events like the live, interactive pre-historic cooking demonstrating featuring the "earth oven" method of cooking at Poverty Point World Heritage Site in Louisiana.

    So grab friends and get to a National Public Lands Day event in your area. The best way to make sure people are personally invested in maintaining public green spaces is to take them out to those spaces for relaxing and fun activities. Make it an annual thing and challenge others to do the same.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Register to volunteer for National Public Lands Day!

    Be sure to get your Fee-Free Coupon as a thank you for volunteering!

    Sources/further reading:

    "More than 175,000 Volunteers Expected on National Public Lands Day, September 26, 2015” via National Public Lands Day

    "Let's Move Outside: Public lands make the best playgrounds!” via National Public Lands Day

    "Our Land, Up for Grabs” via The New York Times

    "This Land Was Your Land” via The American Prospect

    "Volunteer on trail crews for National Public Lands Day, Sept. 26” via The Seattle Times

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #955 "In search of the good life (Culture)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #4EACHOfUs to #EndHyde via @AllAboveAll @NLIRH — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: supporting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act.

    This legislation — which has the unfortunately trans-exclusionary nickname “the EACH Woman Act” — is the first national legislation to explicitly affirm the right to abortion care. Roe v Wade may have decriminalized abortion, but the complete lack of anything resembling an affirmative right in the legislature or from the Supreme Court is what has allowed 231 abortion restrictions to pass in just the past four years — not to mention practically perpetual investigations of Planned Parenthood.

    Coverage bans — restrictions on whether a patient’s health insurance provider is allowed to reimburse for abortion care — are the height of every kind of discrimination I rail against on this show. The poor, communities of color, immigrants, people living on reservations, the undocumented — basically all the people who already have barriers to healthcare and significant economic disadvantages — are hit the hardest.

    Grassroots organizing lead by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (or URGE), and the National Network of Abortion Funds along with new polling commissioned by All* Above All showing Americans — by a 24-point margin — think politicians shouldn’t be able to deny abortion care to someone just because they’re poor came together to create a historic press conference this summer. More than 70 members of Congress signed on to co-sponsor the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act introduced by Representatives Lee, DeGette, and Schakowsky. Many stood in front of cameras to declare that abortion is a right and demanded an end to this dangerous discrimination.

    Even if this legislation can’t get past the GOP’s dangerously anti-choice leadership, having a coalition this size put their names on a bill that doesn’t shy away from the word “abortion” is a huge deal and those members of Congress deserve your support. You can encourage your representatives to sign-on through the form at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health website — LatinaInstitute.org. If your reps are already supporters, likely All* Above All has included them in their “All In” social media campaign, so post the graphic at AllAboveAll.org thanking them to your networks with the inclusive hashtag #4EACHOfUs. Show favorite Barbara Lee’s graphic is up in our feeds if you don’t have a congressman of your own to thank.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name in support of #4EACHOfUs: "Write your member of Congress today!” via the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

    Thank the #4EACHOfUs co-sponsors via All* Above All’s 100 Days For Coverage Campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Widespread Public Support Bolsters Bill to End Restrictions on Abortion Coverage” via Truthout

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #952 "The battle rages whether you pay attention or not (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #HungerActionMonth via @FeedingAmerica — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hunger Action Month.

    One in six Americans struggles with hunger. As highlighted before on this show, that number hardly fluctuates no matter what’s happening with job numbers, the stock market or the economy. Our capitalist system has created a sizable class of people — an estimated 49 million right now — who can’t take for granted that they’ll eat tomorrow. Until we can fundamentally change this system, people will go hungry.

    Hunger Action Month is the perfect time to push back on all the right-wing and center-left poverty shaming tropes. Feeding America — a fantastic organization that provides over 3 billion meals annually and reaches nearly every community in the country — has fantastic graphics, memes, educational materials, and social media campaigns available to share with your networks.

    Feeding America has also rebranded September: #Spoontember. To raise awareness and encourage people to volunteer, Feeding America is calling for selfies with a spoon balanced on your nose. We all know silly works on social media: buckets of ice water raised over $100 million for ALS research, after all. So take a selfie, tag @FeedingAmerica on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and include the stats on the campaign page at FeedingAmerica.org in your post.

    You can also support the Thunderclap scheduled for Hunger Action Day Thursday, September 3rd by clicking the link in the segment notes and in the Feeding America Facebook and Twitter feeds. It only takes ten seconds and your social media post will go out as a blast alongside other supporters, potentially reaching millions by helping the hashtag go viral.

    If you’ve been meaning to volunteer, but like most of us, forget or are reluctant to get involved with something new, take the opportunity during a month when many of the other volunteers will be new as well. You can all be unsure of yourselves together — and what better cause than feeding hungry people. FeedingAmerica.org will connect you to your local food bank, or, if in-person engagement isn’t viable for you, help you run a virtual food drive.

    You can also ask your members of Congress to visit a food bank from the Feeding America home page. There’s no expiration date on this action as residents of all 3,143 U.S. counties experience food insecurity — making this an epidemic in the richest nation on the planet.

    Whatever level of involvement you’re able to take makes a difference in helping end stigma, raise money, and push toward a better, more sustainable system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Join one (or all!) of @FeedingAmerica’s #HungerActionMonth campaigns.

    Take TEN SECONDS to support Feeding America’s #Spoontember Thunderclap!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Hunger and Poverty Fact Sheet” via Feeding America

    "49 Million Americans Live With This — So Why Are We So Uncomfortable Talking About It?” via .Mic

    "Our Perceptions About the “Unworthy Poor” Haven’t Changed” via TalkPoverty

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #949 "Throwing away food while people starve (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy via @EFF — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy.

    People prefer to be anonymous online for a number of reasons — not all of them so that they can troll and leave comments without reprisal. Groups and individuals who do the majority of their social justice organizing and fundraising don’t link their personal information — names, addresses, etc. — to their websites to prevent targeting by opposition and law enforcement.

    Business like Time Warner and Walt Disney — claiming they need recourse for copyright infringement — have lobbied the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or, ICANN) to end the proxy registration of domains that keeps people’s information private. According to Buzzfeed, the entertainment industry sees proxy registration as a way to covertly steal content while privacy advocates see identity concealment as a way to enable free speech.

    The Online Abuse Prevention Initiative is particularly concerned about the way this potential rule change would affect groups like: women indie gamers who sell their products online, freelance journalists and authors, small business owners who work out of their homes, activists who take donations — especially those who live under totalitarian surveillance states, and people who crowd fund medical procedures using their personal stories to solicit donations.

    The affect on marginalized groups and those without financial resources to protect themselves through the legal system or fight harassment after it’s already begun could change the landscape of online organizing and commerce as well as open up even more people to being doxed.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is, of course, leading the effort to fight the proposal. Their "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” petition to ICANN is up at their website, EFF.org, under the “Take Action” tab. By signing their petition, you’ll be asking for ICANN to not only reject the change, but to go further to protect people’s online privacy by creating less costly, easier ways to withhold personal identifying information from online domains.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” via the Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Sources/further reading:

    "Icann plan to end website anonymity 'could lead to swatting attacks’” at The Guardian

    "Proposed Domain Name Rule Threatens Website Owner Anonymity” at Buzzfeed

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #946 "What will it take to reverse this trend? (Privacy Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Hold Border Patrol Responsible via @ACLU — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hold Border Patrol Responsible.

    Republicans have seen the light on immigration reform, the corporate, belt-way media told us earlier this year. Pay no attention to the way they refused to pass anything comprehensive — they see the benefit of incremental, piecemeal legislation and are hoping to appear less xenophobic ahead of the presidential primary season.

    Well — whether we like it or not — primary season is in full swing. And with the House gone for August recess and the Senate right behind them on Friday, this supposed party line shift seems to have been mostly hype. The only members of the GOP weighing in on immigration with any enthusiasm are the primary contenders themselves. Media proclaimed moderate Jeb Bush even seems to be taken seriously despite his throwback go-to line:

    "Finding a practical solution to the status of the people who are here illegally today is a nonstarter if our borders are not secure against future illegal immigration.”

    Despite ongoing abuses in border towns, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has virtual free reign under the Department of Homeland Security. There is little recourse for those who live with the checkpoints and harassment happening well into U.S. territory. It isn’t just Jeb’s quote-unquote “illegals” being targeted; legal residents must pass through check points even if they aren’t living on one side of the border and working or visiting family on the other.

    The ACLU has been pushing a campaign of accountability since the president’s much lauded executive order to stop deportations for over 4 million immigrants this winter. That order also ramped up the militarization of border towns and check points. Visit the “Action” tab at ACLU.org or use the link in the segment and show notes to go directly to the petition titled "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones.”

    The petition demands a clear, effective method for reporting human rights violations — a power that rests with the president and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This method must be transparent, available to non-English speakers, and followed by a strong investigation process.

    While we’re fighting for comprehensive immigration reform that requires action from Congress, we must continue to push the president and his administration to stop all abuses within the power of the executive branch; bringing the Constitution back to the border and those who reside there is an important step.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones" via ACLU

    Sources/further reading:

    "Signs of Life For Immigration Reform” at U.S. News and World Report

    "Jeb Bush unveils border security, immigration reform plan” via WSB-TV

    "Documenting Ongoing Border Patrol Abuses” via Immigration Policy Center

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #943 "No human being is illegal (Immigration) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Keep #SNAP Strong via @FRACtweets — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Keep SNAP Strong.

    That video from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities began with the voices of former Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern — the democrat and the republican credited by World Food Program USA as being pioneers in the way food assistance is delivered to those who need it in this country. Their website unequivocally declares:

    "It is no exaggeration to say that every major U.S. program designed to help feed poor children bears the imprint of these two men.”

    How quickly things change.

    As Best of the Left’s Social Media/Activism director Katie Klabusich lays out in a piece for RollingStone, the GOP has spent the past four years proposing 10 year plans to “balance the budget" that cut more than $130 billion from food assistance programs — WIC and SNAP — that Dole and McGovern worked so hard to make more user-friendly and easier to qualify for.

    Why a need to cut approximately “half of one hundredth of one percent” — that’s 0.0085 of one percent — out of a $3.8 trillion federal budget? According to the GOP the answer is priorities and redundancy. Katie, who spent the first six months of this year utilizing SNAP after an unexpected medial bill — an experience she details in the article, makes a good point: 49 million of her is pretty redundant.

    That’s how many people are food insecure in this country. 49 million — or 14% of our population. One in six Americans aren’t living with or in danger of being hungry because of the economy either; the hungry segment of our population really never drops below 11%. This is simply the percentage of our friends, neighbors, and coworkers that we’re willing to live with being hungry as a trade for our capitalist culture.

    Currently, the GOP is in charge of the budget and they're celebrating a drop in SNAP dollars for 2016 — actually due to factors affecting the program's funding calculator like fewer expected enrollees and a break in food inflation — as though they managed to sneak a law past the president that fundamentally undid Dole and McGovern’s legacy. Their intentions are clear by their false premise boasting and their on-the-record long-term budget plans. Now is the time to get involved in the effort to bolster these life-saving programs because they are absolutely at risk.

    The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is a national organization working to maintain funding for food assistance programs and fill the gaps with private efforts when public money falls short. They have a great Legislative Action Center at FRAC.org where you can track and support or oppose proposed state and federal budget actions.

    At FRAC.org, be sure to sign the "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong” which encourages Congress not just to ditch any notion of cuts, but join with the White House and Progressive Caucus in bolstering life-sustaining access to food.

    You can also share your experiences and amplify others' through a hashtag Katie revived earlier this year: #PovertyIs. The hashtag trended on multiple continents and the stories are powerful. 

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track and support/oppose pending budgetary and program changes to food assistance through Food Research and Action Center’s Legislative Action Center

    SIGN: "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong”

    Sources/further reading:

    "What SNAP Is For” via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    "Honoring the Legacy of Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern” via World Food Program USA

    "Republicans Are Trying to Take Food Out of My Mouth” by Katie Klabusich at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #941 "Taking food out of the mouths of babes (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@BeyondCoal via @SierraClub — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal” Campaign.

    Climate actions and campaigns can seem overwhelming in scope. But while few in the media were paying attention, the grassroots organizing and smart strategizing of the Beyond Coal campaign has made shutting down the dirtiest energy source in the country look almost easy.

    The main goals of the Sierra Club campaign are to keep coal in the ground in Appalachia and elsewhere, move municipalities to clean energy, and successfully retire one-third of the nation’s 500-some coal plants by 2020. Last week, they celebrated the closing of the 200th plant, leaving 323 on their targeted list.

    This is a major victory for both health and optics reasons. Coal is responsible for one-third of US emissions while making us unnecessarily sick. As many as 13,000 premature deaths and more than $100 billion in health care costs annually are attributed to coal. Hitting even just the hallway mark — which is practically around the corner — would make a massive difference in the lives of millions while proving that transitioning from dirty to clean energy is not the impossibility it was once portrayed as.

    Bruce Nilles, ‎senior campaign director for Beyond Coal, explained the importance of last week’s milestone to Kate Sheppard at The Huffington Post:

    "Back in 2009, the prevailing wisdom was that coal was inevitable, that the U.S. would be burning coal for a long time. We set out to show that you can make a lot of progress even without a climate bill.”

    The Sierra Club is still, of course, pushing the administration to follow through on promises to be proactive. Their “Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan” petition — which can be found at SierraClub.org. — is flooding the administration with support ahead of the expected push back on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan from fossil fuel billionaire. Through the petition page you can sign; tweet to the EPA with the hashtag #ActOnClimate; post the campaign to your other social network feeds; get involved in specific coal plan closing action in your state; and connect to other campaigns.

    Join with Beyond Coal and help push them over the tipping point to achieving an end to our dirtiest energy source.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN & SHARE: Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan with the The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign

    Get involved in your state through Beyond Coal’s Take Action Page

    Sources/further reading:

    “United States Phases Out 200th Coal Plant As Momentum For Renewable Energy Grows” via The Sierra Club

    "Iowa Utility Will Phase Out Coal At 5 Plants, In Milestone For Sierra Club” by Katie Sheppard via Huffington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #940 "What we are facing and how we are fighting (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment via @ERACoalition — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Finally.

    In case you missed it, women don’t have equal rights in this country.

    The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1923 — three years after the 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Early women’s rights activists knew that the vote was just the beginning. Real equality was more than just dropping a ballot in the box. They sought to add “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” to the Constitution to enshrine full quality of the sexes into our founding document.

    Congress finally passed the ERA in 1972 and 35 states ratified it — three states short of the constitutional requirement. The ERA has ben reintroduced in every legislative session since it stalled in 1982 — when the time to ratify expired, but it continually fails to garner support. This is in part because a generation after the campaign to adopt the ERA, most Americans assume the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment or the right to vote in the 19th automatically dissolved any disparities between cis men and everyone else.

    In her statement of support for the renewed effort to ratify the ERA, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said:

    “The time is ripe to ratify the equal rights amendment. Seventy percent of people polled think that we already have an ERA in the Constitution and they’re shocked to find we don’t have one.”

    She’s backed up by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has said: "If I could choose an amendment to add to this Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment.”

    The Equal Rights Amendment Coalition is taking RBG’s words to heart. If women are to be equal in stature before the law, we need a guarantee that can’t be repealed — an amendment to the Constitution rather than just a piece of legislation subject to the whims of Congress.

    Supporting this common sense and long overdue amendment is as easy as signing the petition at MoveOn.Org and visiting ERACoalition.org where you can take the pledge to support the ERA and send a message your legislators asking them to become supporters of equality.

    You can also keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary "Equal Means Equal” which depicts the modern day disparities for women in every area from reproductive rights to paid family leave to equal pay and follow and use the hashtags #EqualMeansEqual and #ERANow.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)” via MoveOn.org

    SUPPORT the ratification of the ERA: Take the Pledge and Contact Your Representatives via the ERA Coalition

    Additional Activism:

    Watch for the release of the documentary "Equal Means Equal” from the ERA Education Project

    Sources/further reading:

    "Meryl Streep Helpfully Reminded Congress We Still Don’t Have an Equal-Rights Amendment” at The Cut

    "Meryl Streep Is Pushing Congress to Finally Revive the Equal Rights Amendment” at Mother Jones

    "The new women warriors: Reviving the fight for equal rights” at CNN.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #938 "What are women complaining about? (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: MayDay PAC's #Leaders4Reform.

    Last year, in order to change how our elections are funded, Lawrence Lessig launched “the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — MayDay.US. He was shrugged off by mainstream press and his grand idea seemed impossible even to those who hoped he would succeed.

    Then something incredible happened.

    "We raised the initial $1 million in 13 days, rather than 30," Lessig wrote at Medium. "That was matched two weeks later, and then we launched the second campaign. Thirty days after that, we crossed the $5 million mark...By the end of our campaign, we had raised $11 million of the $12 million that we had planned, with more than 50,000 donors from almost every state in the union.”

    When that monetary success didn’t translate into wins in the voting booth in November, Lessig decided to relaunch with the goal of winning over current members of the House and Senate in order to pass legislation now. With a bill introduced in the Senate and 151 of the 218 House members needed to guarantee a reform majority, that goal looks increasingly within reach.

    At MayDay.US you can contribute to the momentum of identifying leaders for reform and support the Fair Elections Now Act, Senator Dick Durbin’s bill which has added twenty co-sponsors less than a month after being introduced.

    From the MayDay.US home page you can record a voice message in support of reform legislation which MayDay will deliver to key members of Congress, call your representatives directly using their handy script, view the full list of Leaders for Fundamental Reform, and encourage those not yet signed on to join the fight via social media using the hashtag #Leaders4Reform.

    MayDay still plans to target and support pro-reform candidates for Congress next year; they simply aren’t sitting on their hands in the meantime. Lessig’s ability to adapt and continue with their mission is just one more reason to support the work MayDay is doing.

    Update!

    S.1538 - Fair Elections Now Act

    Follow-up/new Action: #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS

    Leave a message for Congress: Citizen Recording Studio

    Build a bigger #Leaders4Reform coalition: Call your representatives

    Sources/additional glimmers of hope:

    "The 'Super PAC to End Super PACs' Makes a Strategic Retreat” at Bloomberg Politics

    "We tried. We learned. We’re trying something new: Mayday.US, v2” by Lawrence Lessig

    "Frodo Baggins for President” by Lawrence Lessig

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #937 "Making progress on our biggest problem (Money in Politics)"

    Revisit the original action/segment:

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Universal Access To Affordable Medicine via @NeedyMeds & @AccessOurMeds — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Universal Access To Affordable Medicine.

    Before we dive in, consider this my requisite plug for the need to achieve universal, single-payer healthcare. In the meantime, there *is* work to be done to help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life.

    Prescription medications are one of the most expensive parts of healthcare — even for people with insurance. Pharmaceutical companies already enjoy the profit-boosting privilege of lengthy patents before generic versions can be developed and sold. Originally, this was designed to help research institutions and companies recoup the millions it can cost to create a drug, thus making it less risky to fail now and again and somewhat profitable to manufacture medications for uncommon ailments. Like everything else, however, corporate greed has turned a well-intentioned fail safe into a way to injure anyone who isn’t rich.

    The leaked language in the Trans Pacific Partnership indicates that its passage would likely intensify this injustice. According to Doctors Without Borders, "aggressive intellectual property rules...would restrict access to affordable, lifesaving medicines for millions of people” by enhancing patent and data protections while dismantling international public health safeguards and obstructing price-lowering generic competition.

    In short: we need an international movement supporting medication access and we need it now.

    The Access Our Medicine Initiative - which is supported by the prescription assistance non-profit NeedyMeds - is working to make affordable medicine a priority in the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals currently being discussed. These discussions set international cooperative priorities for the next 15 years — kind of a big deal. The "Access Our Medicine” Declaration has already garnered the signed, visible support of individual doctors, famous advocates, and organizations like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the MS International Foundation and more. What they need now is a groundswell of support from us.

    You can sign the declaration at AccessOurMedicine.com. While you’re there, take advantage of their cache of stories from real people, easily shareable facts like "1/3 of Americans with a chronic disease has difficulty paying for food, medications or both,” and well-curated media page. After you add your name, let people know why this issue matters by sharing it with the hashtag #WhyISigned.

    For immediate help paying for medications, visit NeedyMeds.org and click on their Generic Assistance Program; they offer 20 generics medications for no cost in coordination with Rx Outreach, the largest non-profit pharmacy in the country. And if you aren’t in need, pass information on the program around; you never know who in your network might.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the "Access Our Medicine” Declaration from the Access Our Medicine Initiative

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Let people know about The Generic Assistance Program (GAP) for prescription medications through NeedyMeds

    Sources/further reading:

    "Trading Away Health: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)” via Doctors Without Borders

    "What the Affordable Care Act Means for Prescription Coverage” via The Washington Post

    "Prescription Drug Costs and Health Reform: FAQ” via WebMD

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #936 "Drugged and broke (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Not1More via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (@familiatqlm) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #Not1More.

    Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez’s interruption of President Obama at the White House Pride reception was met with the type of hostility trans people experience regularly in their every day lives. Pride, like the mainstream movement for marriage equality, is often very white, very cis, and very male — sidelining those like Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans woman of color. As we’ve outlined before in the show and previous activism segments, the marriage equality victory being celebrated at the reception that day is an important step, but it should be seen as the first of many for LGBTQ people.

    As black trans queer feminist Raquel Wilis wrote last week:

    "Today, with New York City’s streets still glittering from the aftermath of the weekend’s Pride festivities, I stand in solidarity with Gutiérrez as she stands up to the government and the queer elite. Many have given her their half-hearted support—agreeing with the cause but discrediting her methods. To these people I ask: when is the right time? Those of us who have not been able to play the assimilation game learned long ago that respectability politics mean nothing when our community is constantly under threat.”

    Undocumented LGBTQ people are an especially vulnerable group, often being subjected to abuse during detention and disproportionately facing deportation and separation from their families.

    The group Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement has built quite a coalition in under a year and a half specifically to address issues like the detention, abuse and deportation of transgender immigrants and undocumented people. Their campaign #Not1More — which you can find at NotOneMoreDeportation.com — "builds collaboration between individuals, organizations, artists, and allies to expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.”

    Through their website you can support individuals facing deportation, share stories and artwork, and call on your representatives to end abuse and detention.

    While the White House released a memo on the detention of transgender immigrants in response to pressure from the #Not1More coalition following the White House Pride reception, guidance documents don’t have the force of law that will prevent abuse and violence against those being detained and deported.

    In their "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” petition, FAMILIA seeks to remind us and the president that justice is not achieved until no one is left behind: "Millions have finally been provided relief. But millions more have still been excluded.”

    You can sign the petition at NotOneMoreDeporation.com calling on the president to expand deferred action for all families and amplify the stories and artwork of those affected by this unjust immigration policy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

    JOIN the movement to end deportation of undocumented LGBTQ people with #Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    “#Not1More RESPONSE TO ICE NEW MEMO ON PROCESSING TRANS DETAINEES”

    "A transgender woman of color on the hypocrisy of the gay rights movement” by Raquel Wilis at Quartz

    "Obama's reply to a trans woman proves LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage” by Meredith Talusan at The Guardian

    "Was Obama’s Heckler Actually A Transgender Hero?” by Kristina Marusic at MTVIssues

    "The Obama Legacy: Inequality, Corporate Trade Deals, Worldwide War” by Kit O’Connell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #935 "It is so ordered (Marriage Equality)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Showing Up For Racial Justice @ShowUp4RJ — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Showing Up For Racial Justice.

    As has been discussed on this show fairly regularly, members of marginalized groups are called on continually to do the “101-level” explanations of their issues and teach people how to be allies. This work is thankless, exhausting and often takes valuable time away from real movement and liberation work.

    But to achieve equality in any real way, majority groups must participate in the efforts to recognize and solidify immigrant rights, women’s rights, trans rights, gay rights, and rights for people of color — just to name a few of the current fights for justice. So, how do movements engage the majority without ceding the mic or spending resources they don’t have teaching allyship?

    Enter Showing Up For Racial Justice — or SURJ. This national network of groups and individuals does the work of organizing white people for justice. On their “About” page they explain their role through a quote from Alicia Garza, a community organizer and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement: "We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”

    SURJ helps train white people to play supportive roles in the campaigns driven by people of color and how to take a racial justice focus back to their other organizing efforts — in climate, economic, political, LGBTQ, voting rights, feminist campaigns and movements. One of the most important things white people can do to challenge white supremacy is to speak up in typically white, privileged spaces.

    ShowingUpForRacialJustice.org has a great “Action” tab with local events across the country. There are affiliated chapters in almost every state; you can also sign up to start one in your area. They need volunteers to help with social media, fundraise, write for the blog, do graphic design and web layout, plan actions, and facilitate training. Basically, whatever skills you have are needed and useful.

    Katie participated in the “White People Take Action For Charleston” conference call/webinar last week. 500 people were on the call and the suggestions — like pushing back on right-wing media and engaging anyone carrying an “All Lives Matter” sign at an event so black organizers don’t have to — were fantastic and designed to keep white allies in the background while being visible support.

    SURJ also provides a handy redirect for people of color tired of going through the 101 racism and White Supremacy explanations. It can be hard — if not impossible — to tell if people approaching you online or in your daily lives are asking questions in good faith and with real interest; the beauty of referring them to a resource like SURJ is that those truly looking for a way to understand and get involved will be appreciative and those who aren’t are quickly dismissed.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Volunteer and/or participate in actions around the country with Showing Up For Racial Justice

    Follow SURJ on Twitter and like the on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    #TakeDownTheFlag

    AskAWhitePerson.com

    Sources/further reading:

    "12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People” by Janee Woods at The Root

    "White Supremacy Culture: From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups” via SURJ

    "Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now” by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic

    "Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide” via The New York Times

    "Before Charleston, Not Many People Wanted To Take Down The Confederate Flag” via FiveThirtyEight.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #933 "The long shadow of southern white supremacy (Racism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FightBackTX with @FundTexasChoice — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Fight Back Texas with Fund Texas Choice.

    With 35% of U.S. women of reproductive age living in the 87% of counties without an abortion provider, Texas is certainly not the only area where the phrase “undue burden” applies. However, as the second largest state in population — with nearly 27 million people — and the second largest physically — topping 268,000 square miles, the impending clinic closures put the population with the the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country in immediate crisis.

    Thanks to the Fifth Circuit, unless the Supreme Court steps in with an emergency stay, half the clinics in Texas will close. Again. Depending on whether a couple can comply with a handful of specific provisions in HB2, on July 1st there will be only 8 to 10 clinics to serve the entire state — with none in the expansive western half and likely no abortion provider at the clinic in the Rio Grande Valley should it remain open.

    Patients who were already having to travel hundreds of rural miles will now be competing for appointments with city residents or going out of state at great expense. Clinics in New Mexico and Oklahoma are the next closest options — 500 miles from central West Texas and 200 miles from Dallas-Ft. Worth respectively. With overnight stays due to ultrasound, mandatory counseling, and waiting period laws, a trip for even a simple, five minute first trimester procedure or to procure the abortion pill easily becomes a four or five day trip with all the expenses of travel, time off work, and child care.

    Fund Texas Choice is the abortion fund dedicated to helping patients navigate and afford the logistical challenges of accessing this vital medical care. In-state check points and buses that are regularly swept for people without papers exacerbate an already challenging road to the doctor for many Texans. Fund Texas Choice already sends over one-third of their clients out of state, sometimes costing thousands of dollars just in travel. You can help lessen the burden and increase their ability to help bridge these gaps by donating at FundTexasChoice.org and following them @FundTexasChoice on Twitter.

    Their “Texas Abortion Clinic Map” page has an updated list of clinics that are open and/or providing abortion care. They also link to the orgs that help patients fund procedures — Lilith Fund, TEA Fund [just said like “tea”], and West Fund. You can also give directly to Whole Woman’s Health — the independent clinic chain spearheading many of the lawsuits attempting to overturn harmful laws — at WholeWomansHealth.com under the “Abortion Care — Financial Assistance” tab.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Follow and support Fund Texas Choice

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow and support the other Texas abortion funds:

    Lilith Fund

    TEA Fund

    West Fund

    Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund

    Sources/further reading:

    "State Facts About Abortion: Texas” via The Guttmacher Institute

    "Fifth Circuit Upholds More HB 2 Provisions, Dares the Supreme Court to Step In” by Jessica Pieklo at RH Reality Check

    "Court Upholds Texas’ ‘Devastating’ Anti-Choice Omnibus Law” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    "Plaintiffs appeal to 5th Circuit Court, Supreme Court following ruling on HB 2” at The Daily Texan

    "Fifth Circuit Refuses to Stay Ruling That Could Immediately Shutter All But 9 Abortion Clinics in Texas” via The Center For Reproductive Rights

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #932 "Moving the goalposts on "undue burden" (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget via @VFPNational — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget.

    This month, Congress spends a significant amount of time on the military budget for the following year. They debate the National Defense Authorization Act — or NDAA — and lay the groundwork for foreign policy based on how much money can be spent where and on what.

    The National Priorities Project explains the NDAA and military budget process is super simple terms at NationalPriorities.org:

    • The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction.
    • Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent.
    • The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 
    • The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction. Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent. The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    Veterans For Peace is taking this opportunity to lobby Congress and engage those of us who would rather see our money invested in people and peace than war and destruction to let our representatives know we support a shift in policy.

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to get your representatives’ phone, address, and social media handles and let them know you support the Veterans For Peace priorities listed under the “Legislative Update” section of “Take Action” at VeteransForPeace.org.

    Budget change demands include: moving money from the military to urgent domestic needs like health, education, environment, and infrastructure; closing bases from wars waged in previous generations; reining in profits of Pentagon contractors; and auditing the Pentagon to eliminate waste.

    If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with Veterans for Peace, registration is open for their annual convention August 5-9 in San Diego, CA. You can’t miss the tab at VeteransForPeace.org.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to tell your representatives to follow the Veterans For Peach plan to “Move the Money” & “Audit the Pentagon”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Register for the Veterans For Peace 30th Annual Convention, August 5-9

    Sources/further reading:

    "Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?” via CounterPunch<?p>

    "National Defense Authorization Act: Five Things You Should Know” via the National Priorities Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #931 "From rewriting wars to waging peace (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@POTUS: Free Victims of the Drug War via @DrugPolicyOrg — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Free Victims of the Drug War" with the Drug Policy Alliance.

    President Obama stepped up his pardons earlier this year by commuting the sentences of 22 federal prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses being served “under an outdated sentencing regime,” according to the administration. As Trymaine Lee reported for MSNBC.com, the president described the power of commutation as embodying “the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance.”

    For what are most certainly widely varying reasons, bipartisan conversations have begun seeking to tackle the injustices of decades-old mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws which have lead to the overcrowding of our nation’s prisons and the fulfilling of the greedy dreams of private prison company CEOs. In his statement on the commutations, the president acknowledged both the social good and the financial imperative of fixing the broken system.

    “Well, here’s the good news,” the president said. "There is an increasing realization on the left, but also on the right politically, that what we’re doing is counterproductive. We’re all responsible for at least a solution to this.”

    As the predictably slow wheels of potential Congressional action turn, there is good news: this is another situation where the White House holds significant unilateral power. The Drug Policy Alliance is campaigning to pressure the president on additional commutations — which should be an easy sell as he has already established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals sentenced under the draconian drug laws to petition for commutation.

    You can join with the Drug Policy Alliance by visiting DrugPolicy.org/action and contacting the White House through their "Free Victims of the Drug War” page. You can also follow their hashtag #NoMoreDrugWar and use it to publicly share that you’re participating in the campaign to free those wrongly and cruelly incarcerated.

    As the Drug Policy Alliance letter-writing page explains, the White House is starting to listen on this issue; now is the time to build momentum by asking the president to continue a process he began and not leave the work unfinished for an incoming administration. The time is now.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to tell the president to Free Victims of the Drug War via the Drug Policy Alliance

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    FOLLOW the hashtag: #NoMoreDrugWar

    For those who want to get more involved, it’s early registration for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference (11/18-11/21/2015)

    Sources/further reading:

    "President Obama commutes prison sentences of 22 drug offenders” by Trymaine Lee at MSNBC.com

    "Prolific Pardoner? Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Prisoners Last Week, but Has Denied Thousands” by Annie Waldman for ProPublica via Truthout

    "Will the U.S. Senate Finally Reform Harsh Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drugs?”> via Drug Policy Alliance

    "The Nation's Shame: The Injustice of Mandatory Minimums" by Andrea Jones at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #929 "Looking to avert further tragedy (War on Drugs™)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Public Banking via @PublicBanksNow & @DemocracyCollab — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Public Banking.

    Neither the concept of pooling money to benefit a larger community nor the notion of holding that money in a publicly owned and run institution is novel. We collect taxes to fund schools and roads — projects we couldn’t accomplish individually — and the state of North Dakota has operated its own financial institution for nearly a century. So why is Bismarck, ND the only place in the country with a publicly owned bank?

    The movement to expand public banking is gaining momentum. Gus Alperovitz — the economist behind The New System Project we featured just a few weeks ago — described what has created renewed interest in founding more public banks in an op-ed for Bill Moyers:

    “[R]ecognition is also growing of the undue influence that private corporate finance — tied to Wall Street rather than anchored to Main Street — has on our communities. Most Americans understand that regulation can only go so far and that it has a tendency to unravel in the face of corporate pressure…[S]tarting at the local level, 'public banking' and related strategies seek to transform the current system toward one in which banking is managed as a public utility rather than a global casino where taxpayers pick up the tab for private losses.”

    Banking as a "public utility" — a public good — rather than a playground for the uber rich could quickly revolutionize who has access to capital for starting businesses, buying homes, and funding worthwhile projects that benefit entire communities. We already know that locally spent dollars fuel local economies; public banks work in a similar way by not funneling a percentage of the tax dollars housed in those institutions off to the CEOs of Wells Fargo and Citibank.

    Efforts are underway in Sante Fe, New Mexico and the state of Vermont to found public banks. The Vermont plan would authorize up to 10% of the state’s cash balance — approximately $350 million — to be available for investment in local enterprise. Imagine what that could do for a state with just 600,000 people?

    If this concept is exciting to you, the Public Banking Institute is looking for volunteers, members for their chapters in more than 20 cities across the country, and support for local initiatives in Santa Fe, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vermont and California. Visit PublicBankingInstitute.org and click on the “Take Action” tab for volunteer opportunities, events, and info to share on your networks.

    Then, keep an eye out for more from The Next System Project, which The Public Banking Institute partners on, and new ways to get involved with reclaiming public assets for public use.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Public Banking Institute by:

    Supporting a Local Initiative, Volunteering, and/or Joining a Chapter!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Inequality’s Dead End — And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction” by Gar Alperovitz of The Democracy Collaborative

    "Vermont Votes for Public Banking” by John Nichols at The Nation

    "Public banking debate starts in Santa Fe” at Albuquerque Journal

    "Public Banking Institute a Partner to a New Project on Economic Alternatives” via The Public Banking Institute

    WATCH: "National Launch Webinar: The Next System Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #928 "The criminal enterprise that runs our politics (Big Banks)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@TheNextSystem Project- National Launch Webinar - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The Next System Project: National Launch Webinar.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that the capitalist, boot-strap, American Dream mythology basis of the way we live and interact with each other simply isn’t sustainable. But a few minutes thinking about how to reverse the ship or even rebuild the ship from scratch is pretty overwhelming.

    Luckily, the folks at The Next System Project are doing the heavy lifting and they’re inviting you to join in as they imagine and design a better, more sustainable way of life. A project of the Democracy Collaborative, they describe their undertaking this way:

    "The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades.”

    You can register for the introductory, interactive national launch webinar on Wednesday, May 20th at 3pmEST moderated by GritTV’s Laura Flanders. I’m tuning in and Katie will be livetweeting through the @BestoftheLeft Twitter feed using the #WhatsNext hashtag. If you heard the clip of The Next System Project on the show a couple months ago and were intrigued, but full of questions, this is your chance to ask them.

    Get registered at “launch.thenextsystem.org” and mark your calendars!

    TAKE ACTION:

    WATCH The Next System Project National Launch Webinar moderated by Laura Flanders of GritTV

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #922 "A crisis of culture (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly via @KnowDrones - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly.

    Drone news has been focused on domestic surveillance and potential delivery service methods for the past couple of years. Perhaps people are desensitized or unable to garner interest in violence against those overseas, or perhaps stopping a now routine military practice seems impossible.

    But drones are deadly and still in use under the Obama administration. According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, about 6,000 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Of that 6,000, 230 are estimated to be children.

    Since John McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee is busying itself trying to keep the 122 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo from being released and the Commander in Chief seems unwilling to curb the use of drones, military veterans have teamed up with the organization Know Drones to appeal directly to the pilots who fly them.

    Graphic 15-second ads depicting the drone operations video screen, an explosion, civilians searching through rubble after the drone attack, and images of children killed were produced and paid for by KnowDrones.com and members of Veterans For Peace, Sacramento. The voice over says, "Drone pilots, please refuse to fly.”

    Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones, explained the purpose of the ads and why they are calling for help to continue airing them: "We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral. The President and the Congress refuse to respect law and morality and stop US drone attacks, so we are asking the people who are bear the burden of doing the actual killing to put a stop to it.”

    You can support the KnowDrones effort by visiting their website — KnowDrones.com — and donating and/or sharing the ads on your networks. Their campaign is being distributed to local cable companies and networks through coordination with activist social justice ad agency Information in the Public Interest, so a $25 donation can buy a spot on CNN and as little as $50 a spot on MSNBC.

    It’s time the public engaged with this issue as drone killings are done in our name by our government with our tax dollars. If more veterans and enlisted military can be encouraged to speak out and supported as they do, drawing in people across political parties and affiliations will be easier and could help make this a campaign issue next year.

    Support "Show the Real Truth to United States TV Audiences" via KnowDrones and Veterans For Peace, Sacramento

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: "Guantanamo Forever? Tell John McCain: No.” via Amnesty International

    Sources/further reading:

    "Military Veterans Sponsor TV Commercials in California Condemning U.S. Drone Attacks” via DailyKosM

    "Pakistan Is Investigating a CIA Official Accused of Murder After a US Drone Strike” by Jason Leopold at Vice News

    "John McCain: The Most Hypocritical, Opportunistic and Untrustworthy Senator” by Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #918 "War is a racket (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ban Fracking on Public Lands via @foodandwater — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ban Fracking on Public Lands.

    While an outright ban on fracking would probably be the best plan for the environment and our drinking water, managing to pass a ban that prohibits the practice on public lands would go a long way toward curbing its effects.

    Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin reintroduced his bill to do just that last week — on Earth Day, in fact. Food & Water Watch is supporting the "Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015” to both reduce the impact on the climate and to keep the areas around our national parks and monuments from being destroyed.

    According to Food & Water Watch, at the end of 2014 oil and gas companies had leases on over 34 million acres of public land and over 200 million more are being targeted for drilling. Serious damage has already been done; habitat destruction and the potential for damage to parks and monuments is only increasing.

    You can visit FoodAndWaterWatch.org’s “Take Action” tab to add your name and — as always — use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you support Rep Pocan’s bill, so they should sign on as co-sponsors.

    California is especially impacted by the water required to fuel the fracking process. The drought and Governor Brown’s mandatory 25% statewide reduction in water use is getting national attention, but most news outlets are missing the exemptions to agriculture and energy. According to Reuters, California used 70 million gallons of water to frack in 2014. DeSmog Blog reports that the oil industry insists it’s a “responsible user of water.” But if things are dire enough to limit household use, perhaps exemptions aren’t prudent.

    Clean Water Action — at CleanWater.org — has a petition calling for Governor Brown to impose a moratorium. If you’re a resident of the state, you can sign on to contact him through the link on their home page. And anyone can use the “contact us” links at CA.gov to let them know what impacts one state effects everyone.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN and share: Ban Fracking on Public Lands! via Food & Water Watch to support Rep Mark Pocan’s legislation

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you expect them to support Rep. Mark Pocan's Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN and share: "Tell Governor Brown: Fracking Moratorium now!” via Clean Water Action

    Contact Governor Brown directly: Mail/Phone/Email

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking” via Food & Water Watch

    "Exclusive: California used 70 million gallons of water in fracking in 2014” at Reuters

    "How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?” via DeSmog Blog

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #917 "The water wars start at home (Climate) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FreePurviPatel via @rhrealitycheck — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Free Purvi Patel.

    By now you’re probably wondering when during the show an expert or an advocate will explain how a person can be charged and convicted of both feticide — the killing of a fetus — and neglect of a dependent — which presumably would be a child with a birth certificate and a birthday and all the necessary markers that come with entry into the world. Welcome to the current state of reproductive healthcare and the criminalization of anyone who dares walk around with a uterus.

    Before the red state shaming of Indiana kicks back into gear, you should know that as of April 1st, there were 332 abortion restriction provisions making their way through 43 state houses. So, not just red states or southern states or fly over states. Basically, unless you live in proactive Oregon or California, your state is at the very least stalled on extending care to those who need it or actively attempting to legislate basic healthcare until it's out of reach for poor and marginalized people.

    People like Purvi Patel.

    Our friend Imani Gandy at This Week in Blackness is also senior legal analysis at RH Reality Check — and she can describe, but not make sense of either the charges or the conviction. As she so succinctly put it, "A charge of feticide requires a dead fetus, while a charge of neglect of a dependent requires a live birth.” The state’s inability to create or present evidence of a self-induced miscarriage — which is illegal in every state, by the way — or evidence that an attempted miscarriage resulted in a live birth should have meant Patel went home.

    Instead she’s expected to serve 20 years in prison.

    RH Reality Check is calling for the State of Indiana to overturn the conviction and eliminate criminal liability for pregnancy outcomes. You can find, sign, and share their petition at RHRealityCheck.org — the graphic and the link are on essentially every page.

    We shouldn’t need for an injustice to be in our backyard to care about it; but for those who do, legislation that monitors and criminalizes pregnant people is setting records this year from coast to coast. Stopping the wave and demanding existing laws be overturned is a fight we can’t afford to skip out on; lives are at stake — right now, today.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN ”Overturn the #PurviPatel Conviction; Repeal Indiana’s Feticide Law” via RH Reality Check

    Sources/further reading:

    "Purvi Patel Sentenced to 41 Years for Feticide and Neglect of a Dependent” by Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check

    Read RH Reality Check's extensive coverage on Purvi Patel’s case

    "How Indiana Is Making It Possible to Jail Women for Having Abortions” by Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women

    "So Far, 2015 Is On Pace to Set Abortion Restriction Records” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #916 "The history and current state of abortion (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Starting and supporting worker co-ops via @Dematwork — BotL Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Starting and supporting worker co-ops.

    We think we believe in democracy and yet most of us spend eight hours — or, if we’re realistic, more than that — working under a dictatorship. Sure, thanks to the labor movement we have some loosely guarded rights and guarantees, but working for a business or a corporation, or even just a small business owner, essentially means serving at their pleasure.

    Unless you’re part of a worker co-op.

    Worker co-ops have been around basically forever, but just don’t get the kind of attention they should because our corporate media banks on the capitalist system we’re all beholden to. They give all the rights and power to the actual human beings who provide the labor and thus create the wealth. Novel concept: you build it, you benefit from it.

    The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives describe co-ops as “business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them.” They have two central characteristics: "(1) worker-members invest in and own the business together, and it distributes surplus to them and (2) decision-making is democratic, adhering to the general principle of one member-one vote.”

    Sounds great, right? If it sounds complicated to join or start, remember it’s an entire system we’re trying to bring down, here. A little work is going to be involved and luckily you don’t have to figure it out or do it on your own.

    The Democracy at Work Institute was created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives to help build co-ops especially in economically and socially marginalized communities by providing support, strategy, and relationship building.

    Their website — Institute.USWorker.coop — has resources for start-ups including frequently asked questions, 101-level presentations, questions to ask before meeting with legal counsel, guidelines, financing fundamentals, studies, and step-by-step guides. For those interested in joining rather than starting a coop, their home page also links to a searchable list of existing worker coops by state and industry and has a form for submitting additions to their database. You can find childcare, bakeries, breweries, massage centers, landscaping companies, eco-cleaners — almost any business you can think of is being run by workers in some part of the country.

    California has a bill worth supporting in the state legislature right now that would make worker coops easier to start and run. The "CA Worker Cooperative Act,” AB 816, clarifies existing law and broadens protections while creating more visibility for worker coops and providing a framework for developing new coops in the state. With nearly 40 million residents — more than 10% of the total U.S. population — and a variety of industries including many that traditionally disempower workers like agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, California is a great testing ground for this legislation. If it can be successful there, it not only helps a whole lot of people, it can become model legislation for other states and possibly the federal government.

    You can sign the petition to support AB 816 at TheSELC.org under their "About Us, Advocacy" tab — or just click the link in the segment notes.

    If we’re going to change the system, we need to build working grassroots examples of alternatives. So, support the legislation in California and use the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives listing of worker-owned business to support the ones in your area.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Democracy at Work Institute, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Utilize the Democracy at Work Institute “Information for Start-ups”

    SIGN to support: CA AB 816: Worker Cooperative Act via The SELC

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use the collaborative legal resource e-library created by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3) Co-opLaw.org

    Attend one of the conferences with the National Center For Employee Ownership

    Sources/further reading:

    "What is a Worker Cooperative?” via The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Read the full bill: "AB-816 Cooperative corporations: worker cooperatives”

    "CA Worker Coop Act Discussion” via The SELC

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #914 "Looking for something better (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights via @GetEqual — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights.

    Indiana drew all the heat for the state legislature’s extra discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the Hoosier state is hardly the only place where firing, evicting, and even refusing to serve LGBTQ people is legal. Despite the wave of court mandated marriage equality wins and the cultural tide turning on the right to marry, only a federal affirmative right to be treated as fully equal human beings can protect all facets of life and liberty for LGBTQ people in all parts of the country.

    Rather than pushing for a patchwork of single-issue bills that would need to work their way through the legislature one at a time, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) are spearheading an all-encompassing fix. According to Sen. Merkely’s website, he and Rep. Cicilline “will be leading the legislative fight for a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill this spring. The legislation would be similar to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

    The LGBTQ rights group GetEQUAL is in the midst of a campaign to both support this legislative effort and demand that it be comprehensive and uncompromising. At their NoAsterisks.org website, you can sign on to back the full LGBTQ Bill of Rights, which is described as "a guiding document, created with the input of thousands of LGBTQ folks across the country, that lays out what the community really needs.”

    From preamble, to conclusion, the GetEQUAL document details the fears and dangers experienced daily by LGBTQ people that should be addressed and alleviated by true protections at work, at home, at the doctor, at school, and in the eyes of the law and law enforcement.

    Visit NoAsterisks.org and support GetEQUAL’s call to action:

    "As we approach the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution and the 224th anniversary of the Bill of Rights — the document that outlined the specific rights extended to (some) Americans — we demand that this country live up to the values espoused in the nation’s founding documents.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to support GetEQUAL’s LGBTQ Bill of Rights

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use Get Equal’s bill tracker to stay up to date: WeCan’tBelieveThis.org

    Sources/further reading:

    The LGBTQ Bill of Rights via GetEQUAL

    "Cicilline Announces Upcoming Legislation to End LGBT Discrimination” via Rep. David N. Ciciline (D-RI)

    ”Civil Rights Bill Top Priority For LGBT Voters, According to New Poll” by Amanda Terkel via Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

    "Resolution opposing RFRA passes City-County Council” via Wish-TV, Indianapolis

    ”Stop” — Indiana resident, activist, and writer Melissa McEwan’s take on #BoycottIndiana

    Indiana #RFRA Updates via Melissa McEwan

    "That Time I Ranted About #BoycottIndiana & Caring About All People” by Katie Klabusich

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #913 "Refusing to tolerate intolerance (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Jailbreak Your Phone For Security via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Jailbreak Your Phone For Security.

    Jailbreaking phones used to be a way to switch providers without having to buy a new device. iPhones famously were only available on certain networks, but it was an industry-wide issue. Once the most visible evil corporate profit motive was alleviated as providers started letting you bring your old device to a new network, most of us forgot about or didn’t care whether or not jailbreaking was illegal under copyright law.

    But the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest campaign makes clear that the illegality of jailbreaking is a security prohibiting nuisance. Modifying the software on your phones and tablets can be a way to install security fixes making data collection more difficult or impossible. With the ongoing NSA Spying programs and whole warehouses being built to house our data “just in case” the government feels the need to mine it later, securing our ability to jailbreak is important.

    The “Take Action” tab at EFF.org has a link to their “Jailbreaking is Not a Crime” petition which sends a letter to the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress asking them to renew the exemption allowing us to legally modify our mobile devices. Join the more than 20,000 who have added their names already to preserve the right to protect ourselves. Regaining rights once they’re lost — as made clear by the fight to repeal all the provisions of the Patriot Act — can be a nearly impossible battle. Let’s do what we can to hang on to the privacy we still have.

    Also, a quick reminder that EFF’s website has a whole set of security tutorials to protect yourself on all your devices and networks. They can help you do everything from selecting good passwords to installing software to learning how to safely use social media.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the EEF’s petition: Jailbreaking is Not a Crime

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Take advantage of EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense tools.

    Sources/further reading:

    "EFF General Counsel Takes On NSA Spying”

    "Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection of Americans’ Telephone Records”

    "How to Jailbreak Your iPhone: The Always Up-to-Date Guide [iOS 8.1]”

    "Surveillance Techniques: How Your Data Becomes Our Data”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #912 "Poking the watchful eye (NSA Spying) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Fighting the Patriarchy With Film: @thehuntinground & @theperfectvict — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Fighting the Patriarchy With Film.

    Survivors of rape and intimate partner violence share a fear of not being believed. Deeply rooted in the patriarchy that rules our culture and our institutions is a fundamental skepticism of anyone who comes forward to say they’ve been violated. We interrogate rape victims as they report and when they take the witness stand; we berate domestic violence victims with shaming questions like “Well, then, why didn’t you just leave?”

    A pair of documentaries seeks to put human faces out in front of the statistics in order to move the needle on the culture of blame. The subjects of “The Perfect Victim” and “The Hunting Ground” recount their stories in compelling fashion, demanding that viewers help address stigma and demand change to the legal hurtles that keep justice out of their reach.

    “The Hunting Ground” — in theaters now — is an indictment on college campus rape culture and the near complete refusal of administrators to address the issue or punish offenders. You can visit TheHuntingGroundFilm.com for show listings and to use the “Take Action” tab to get involved. Their “advocate” action takes thirty seconds and sends your representatives in Congress a note urging them to support the Campus Accountability & Safety Act.

    “The Perfect Victim” lays out the fallacy of the title through the stories of Shirley, Carlene, and Ruby — three women serving a collective eighty-five years in Missouri State prison for killing their abusive husbands. Each was denied the chance to tell their story at trial; each is hoping new council will help them find a path to justice.

    Beginning April 15th, The World Channel — which you can find at WorldChannel.Org — and Amazon Prime are both showing “The Perfect Victim” for free. You can find more information and get involved through the “Take Action” tab at ThePerfectVictim.Com.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Go see The Hunting Ground and visit their ”Take Action” tab to get involved.

    Go see The Perfect Victim and visit their ”Take Action” tab to get involved.

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #911 "Emasculation Nation (Rape and Intimate Partner Violence)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate via @CCAN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate.

    The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is backing legislation that compliments the usual activism we tell you about. It’s a really neat idea that people should be excited to get behind and draw attention to. Bonus: it’s easy to describe and explain to even the nonpolitical folks in your networks.

    Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has introduced the “Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2015” — or H.R. 1027 for those who like the technical, wonky stuff. It creates what CCAN calls:

    “[A] simple, fair, and built-to-last policy solution to reduce the carbon and other heat-trapping emissions now harming our climate while boosting the income of most American families.”

    By requiring polluters to pay for bringing oil, gas, or coal into the U.S. market, companies are de-incentivized from using dirty energy and revenue which is then paid out to everyone with a valid Social Security number. Think of it the way Alaska pays out oil sharing revenue to its residents.

    Visit ClimateAndProsperity.org where you can sign the petition supporting Rep. Van Hollen’s plan to boost the economy while preserving the climate and call on your representatives to co-sposor the bill. Cosponsors build allyships and pull other representatives into the fight during the current legislative session and beyond — so that’s an important emphasis with a GOP-lead Congress.

    You can also volunteer or get your group or organization involved by signing on as part of the coalition supporting the bill. Current endorsers vary from local to national, environmental and consumer, and social and economic justice-focused groups.

    Corporations clearly don’t respect anything unless it costs money. It’s time they respected climate impact by having to consider the price tag while making decisions on energy-use. Changing the way businesses approach consumption while reducing CO2 by 80% over the next 35 years and raising money for those who need it most would be a cross-category win.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Tell Congress: Act on Climate by Passing Cap-And-Dividend” via Chesapeake Climate Action Network

    Visit the TAKE ACTION tab at Climate and Prosperity to volunteer or join the coalition.

    Sources/further reading:

    "FACT SHEET: The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014” via Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

    "Cap and Dividend Bill Introduced In Congress (VIDEO)” via Green Action News

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #909 "Debunking the doubters (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Student Aid Bill of Rights via @WhiteHouse — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Student Aid Bill of Rights.

    I’m running the risk of developing a reputation for being a White House shill, but it’s hard to disagree that second half of second term Obama is, indeed, the best Obama. It’s not all sunshine and roses — he is cheerleading the TPP after all, but some of the policies he’s dishing out are downright progressive. Enacting a Student Aid Bill of Rights is one of those policies.

    In his weekly address this past Saturday, President Obama unveiled a long-overdue proposal that builds on his State of the Union promise to provide two years of free community college to any American who wants to enroll and is accepted.

    The Student Aid Bill of Rights states that every student in America should:

    I. Have access to high-quality, affordable higher education.

    II. Be able to easily find the resources they need to pay for college.

    III. Be able to choose an affordable repayment play for student loans.

    IV. Receive quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment when repaying loans.

    It sounds simple — and it basically is. Currently, those who are able to go to college graduate with an average of $28,000 in debt; one in ten students graduates with more than $40,000; and “elite” degrees in law and medicine can cost upwards of $150,000 — if you don’t include undergrad. With federal student loans passing the $1 trillion mark — not to mention the private loans taken out by students and families, the debt our young people are saddled with before entering the work force is, as Forbes.com puts it, “crippling” the economy.

    Visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity and add your name to the Presidential Memorandum, then use ContactingTheCongress.org to call, email, and tweet with the hashtag #CollegeOpportunity to let your representatives know you expect them to get behind this plan and take steps to enshrining the right to quality, affordable education into law.

    While you’re at it, let your state representatives know you expect them to implement the President’s plan for free community college. Even though it would be at no cost to the states, we’ve seen republican, split, and even some democratic state houses reject free federal money during this administration which means they need to hear from you.

    As long as the republicans control Congress, debt forgiveness is off the table. Let’s do what we can now to push the conversation to the left and keep student debt in the news and the forefront of the public consciousness so that during the primaries and 2016 presidential run, the ground work will be laid to make a trillion dollar infusion into the economy an obvious, politically viable plan.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name: Student Aid Bill of Rights

    Let your reps know you support the plan through ContactingTheCongress.org where you can call, email, and tweet at your representatives using the hashtag #CollegeOpportunity.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Reminder that the states have to agree to implement the president’s community college plan. Even though it would be at no cost to the states, we’ve seen republican (and even some democratic) and split state houses reject free federal money during this administration. Let your state and congressional representatives know you back a plan to make community college available to everyone who wants to attend.

    Sources/further reading:

    Press Release: “A Student Aid Bill of Rights”

    “Your Weekly Address: A Student Aid Bill of Rights”

    "5 Reasons Not to Get a Law Degree” via CBS News

    "How The $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents And The Economy” by Chris Denhart at Forbes.com

    "The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for 2 Years”

    Watch POTUS video on two free years of community college: The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for Two Years

    "FACT SHEET - White House Unveils America’s College Promise Proposal: Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #906 "Crushing our potential with student debt (Education)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Curbing #FactoryFarming via @ASPCA & @UN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Curbing Factory Farming.

    No matter your dietary needs or preferences, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that factory farms are a nightmare of cruelty and planet destruction. If you believe in science and evidence and facts, the United Nations has pretty much ended the debate on whether a human-friendly climate can handle the rate of animal agriculture we’re attempting to impose upon it.

    Senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld delivered this unequivocal assessment:

    “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

    The UN report continues by calling out cattle-rearing specifically as a “major source of land and water degradation.” Not only do humans need to slow down the rate of growth around the world of factory farming, but the UN warns that “[t]he environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level.”

    If we as progressives are going to yell at hard-line conservatives for not listening to us on the need to build transit, cap carbon, and stop drilling for oil and natural gas, perhaps we should pause to hear what international scientists have been screaming about in unison for almost a decade.

    According to the UN report:

    "When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.”

    The good news is that there are organizations fighting factory farming in virtually every country. If you don’t live in the U.S. or do and are looking for a local group in your city and state, you can search at World Animal.net/directory. And if you are in the states, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — better known as the ASPCA — has 10 ways to fight factory farming under their “fight cruelty” tab at ASPCA.org.

    Among the suggestions at the ASPCA are:

    “Let Money Talk” by using their guide to finding animal welfare certification labels; if the products are raised ethically, they likely don’t come from a factory farm.

    “Ask Local Grocers and Restaurants to Offer Foods that are More Humanely Raised.” This one shouldn’t be such a tough ask anymore as awareness of the local food movement has made it to most areas.

    “Take Action in Your Community” by starting petitions and letter-writing campaigns or organizing a local group and educating kids on food and farming ethics.

    ...and the increasingly popular: “If You See Something, Say Something.” Factory farm conditions aren’t just unsafe for the climate and the animals, they are often unsafe for workers. You can join up with labor organizers, immigration activists and others who’s constituencies overlap with your concerns about farming practices.

    You can also check out the Humane Society’s factory farming campaign at HumaneSociety.org and sign their “Protect Farm Animals” petition.

    TAKE ACTION:

    10 Ways You Can Fight Factory Farms via The ASPCA

    Fight Factory Farming via The Humane Society

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: Protect Farm Animals petition from The Humane Society

    Use the WorldAnimalNet directory HERE to find anti-factory farm as well as animal rescue/adoption organizations in your country, state, and city.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns” via the United Nations News Centre

    Farm Animal Cruelty — ASPCA facts on factory farms

    "How to Stop the Next Pandemic: End Factory Farming” by Thom Hartmann via Truthout

    Watch: “Us & The Planet” video from Animals Australia at #MakeItPossible

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #905 "Personal, societal and environmental health (Food System)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Gender Neutral Bathrooms — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Gender Neutral Bathrooms.

    Sometimes the answer to a problem is so simple, cheap, and easy to lobby for it’s a wonder it hasn’t already been handled.

    This show has talked about the violence perpetrated against trans people due to overt bigotry, misogyny, and discrimination. Because of that and other factors, trans people are more likely to commit and attempt suicide than any other group. (The information for Trans Lifeline — (877) 565-8860 — a suicide hotline staffed by trans people for trans people is listed below.)

    What we don’t talk about much is the day to day hassles and micro aggressions that feed the culture of violence against trans people.

    Parker Molloy, a Chicago-based trans woman writer, described what an afternoon of errands used to be like for her in an interview with The Chicagoist:

    "One thing that a lot of transgender people struggle with is...well, for me, there was a period in my life where I was started taking hormones, and if you saw me in public, you'd be like, 'I have no clue what you're even going for here. Man? Woman? What?' ...I kind of hit this weird androgynous phase. It was to the point where, if I walked into the men's room, I'd get a lot of weird looks, and if I went into the women's restroom, I'd get a lot of weird looks. And so, rather than continuing to do that, before one of the weird looks became a scream, or became violent, I just decided to use the bathroom at home. Which is super inconvenient and hard. I would sit there and schedule my errands for making sure I wasn't away from the house for more than a few hours… Which is really sad that that has to be an issue, but it is an issue.”

    The cities of Austin, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and West Hollywood have all taken a simple step to alleviate both the stress of those situations and the potential for violence by enacting ordinances to make single-use bathrooms gender-neutral. The fix is cheap — usually $20-$50 at a Home Depot for supplies to change the signs — and most patrons don’t really notice the difference. West Hollywood business owners have even discovered a handy side-effect: shorter lines because anyone can use any of their bathrooms.

    Kentucky State Senator CB Embry, Jr. is pushing legislation that would bar transgender students from using the locker rooms and bathrooms that match their identities — and he’s not alone. The easiest way to prevent new discriminatory legislation is to create a cascade of proactive, rights-affirming legislation. And the good news is you have loads of power at the local level where gender neutral ordinances are being introduced!

    Go to your next city council meeting, call your alderman or your city council member and connect with your local LGBTQ group to lobby for change where you live. If cities and states can go smoke-free in public places for health and safety despite the tobacco and business lobbies, swapping out a couple of signs should be an easy ask.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Call and write your local alderman/city councilperson to push for local gender neutral bathroom ordinances.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    TransLifeLine is a crisis hotline staffed by trans people for trans people. Contact them via Twitter and phone: US (877) 565-8860, Canada (877) 330-6366

    Sources/further reading:

    "INTERVIEW: The Advocate's Parker Marie Molloy on Grantland, Piers Morgan, and More” at The Chicagoist

    "A trans advocate’s perspective on Trans 101 questions” at Transadvocate

    "TLDEF Condemns Kentucky Bill Targeting Transgender Students for Discrimination” via TransGender Legal

    "No label required on West Hollywood's gender-neutral bathrooms” at LA Times

    "Austin Makes Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Out Of All Single-Use Stalls, And Other Cities Should Take Note” at Bustle

    "My Transgender Coming Out Story” ebook by Parker Mollow

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #904 "Opt for compassion and inclusion (Transgender Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Bolstering Unemployment Benefits with the 2016 Budget via @WhiteHouse - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Bolstering Unemployment Benefits with the 2016 Budget.

    I’ve had my differences with the president during his tenure in office, but I'm a pragmatic fan of good ideas. And fixing our busted unemployment insurance system is a very, very good idea. Building that kind of meaningful, benefit extending, life changing reform into the budget is even better than a good idea.

    As a whole, the budget is solid enough that the typically critical folks at Common Dreams are fans of what they’ve seen so far. Dave Johnson describes the White House’s move to the left and the end of the austerity mindset still reigning from the sequester this way:

    "President Obama is using his 'bully pulpit' to push the country in a new direction. The President has submitted a budget that calls for more public investment in vital areas, and pays for it with more taxes on the wealthy. He has drawn a dividing line between a Reaganomics era of 'trickle down' favors for the wealthy combined with cuts, austerity and intentional economic pain and harm, and a return to an era of a government that does things that make people’s lives better.”

    A large part of "making people’s lives better" is redesigning “triggers” that kick in unemployment insurance benefits so that they are available early enough in a downturn and don’t require action by Congress — which typically comes after a recession is in full swing. The unemployment reform even has bipartisan roots — something that may make you cringe, but is necessary with a Republican-controlled Congress. Also, the plan makes sense.

    As Danny Vinik writes at The New Republic:

    "The plan has two components. One would offer states financial rewards for changing the eligibility criteria so that more people who work part-time or who work on and off are eligible for benefits. The second part would encourage states to implement programs to promote reemployment…[S]tates could offer the unemployed relocation vouchers to move where jobs are more widely available, an idea that Republican Senator John Thune proposed in 2014. States could also support more extensive reemployment services and job training programs.”

    So if your job is actually GONE and not just downsized or restructured, you could get help learning new skills. And if your job hops a state border or too many towns over to commute, you could get a hand relocating. This seems like common sense not just because it’s helpful, but because getting people employed quickly is less expensive than long-term unemployment or social programs. It should be win-win from any perspective.

    Luckily, we have enough time before the budget will hit the floor to make the unemployment boost popular, giving opinion poll cover to the White House and creating a PR nightmare for conservative congress members who would lobby to nix it.

    Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and let the president know you support an un-compromised budget with none of the unemployment reform bargained away in the months to come. You can always tweet to @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama to leave a public comment that encourages others to do the same. Information on writing and emailing the White House can be found at WhiteHouse.gov/contact.

    Then, use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your representatives in Congress know you support this provision of the 2016 budget and you expect them to publicly do the same.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Let the White House know you support the unemployment provisions of the 2016 budget via phone (202-456-1111), email/mail and via Twitter to @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama

    Use ContactingTheCongress to let your reps know you expect them to publicly support the unemployment plan.

    Sources/further reading:

    Fiscal Year 2016 Budget of the U.S/ Government via The White House

    "Obama's Budget Proposes a Major Overhaul of Unemployment Insurance” by Danny Vinik at The New Republic

    "Right-Wing Media Use Flawed Study To Attack Unemployment Benefits” by Rachel Calvert at Media Matters for America

    "U.S. jobless claims fall as labor market gains momentum” by Lucia Mutikani at Reuters

    "Conservatives Cheer Research Saying Cuts To Unemployment Benefits Helped The Economy” by Arthur Delaney at HuffPo

    "Obama Budget Signals End Of Austerity, Return Of Sanity” by Dave Johnson at Common Dreams

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #901 "The wealth divide and the crumbling bridge across it (Economics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #EqualPayDay (4/14/2015) - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Equal Pay Day.

    There’s a stat most people are aware of. On the right they do back flips and employ non sequiturs to “refute” it. On the left we rattle it off automatically whenever anyone says: “Men and women are equal these days, so why is everyone still complaining?”

    Data shows that women in the U.S. earn approximately 25% less than their male counterparts. Still. Like right now. In 2013, women’s earnings were 78.3% of men’s — up 1.8% from 2012 according to the Census.

    That stat comes with an important caveat that should be noted and remembered when participating in today’s action. The 78.3% number is for white women. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), African American women earned 68.1% of all men’s earnings and Latinas’ earnings were 60.4% of men’s. So, far less than their white counterparts.

    Even if we just use the white woman pay equity gap, the numbers are staggering. In 2013, men earned an average of $50,033 and women came in at $39,157 — a difference of over $10,000 per year. Think about what you could do with ten grand. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, neither women’s nor men’s earnings improved much from 2012 to 2013 — the most recent numbers available. Their “wage gap fact sheet” states:

    “If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2058, for men and women to reach parity.”

    The biggest awareness day for the pay gap is coming up. The National Committee on Pay Equity started Equal Pay Day in 1996 to illustrate how many extra days into the new year women would need to work to equal what men earned the previous year. In 2015, the date is April 14. So, women would have to work all of 2014, plus the first three and a half months of 2015 to match what men took home in 2014.

    Social media will likely use the traditional hashtags of “Equal Pay” and “Equal Pay Day” with people sharing stories and statistics. Wearing red — possibly with a selfie or two posted to your networks — symbolizes how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay.

    You can also visit the “What You Can Do” tab at Pay-Equity.org anytime to track legislation, contact Congress, and find out how to do an equality audit of your business.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Wear red on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 for #EqualPayDay.

    Visit the “What You Can Do” tab at PayEquity.org to track legislation, contact Congress, form a wage club, or do an equality audit of your business.

    Sources/further reading:

    Wage Gap Fact Sheet via Institute for Women's Policy Research

    Equal Pay and the Wage Gap via National Women's Law Center (NWLC)

    "Women Can't Afford to Celebrate Equal Pay Day” by Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg View

    "For African-American Women—and All Women—Let’s Make Every Day Equal Pay Day” by Stephanie Schriock and Rep. Terri Sewell at The Root

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #900 "Stuff we shouldn’t have to explain anymore (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with @MEUSA - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with Marriage Equality USA.

    Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia currently have full marriage equality on the books. With only 13 states and five U.S. territories to go, the cementing of this particular right for LGBTQ people seems inevitable. As discussed previously on this podcast and in LGBTQ activist writing and campaigning, marriage is not the only right we should be concerned about. But the goal is well within reach, so how about we push hard to get all the way there while building resources and momentum for battles on employment, housing, and healthcare discrimination protections?

    MarriageEquality.org is the nation’s oldest non-profit dedicated to building equality for the LGBTQ community through civil marriage equality at the state and federal level. Their “What’s Happening Now” tab is a comprehensive aggregation of wins and setbacks around the country. They link to local and state-level actions as well as post videos and other shareable content to spread around your networks.

    MarriageEquality.org also tracks anti-equality groups like The National Organization for Marriage and politicians like Mike Huckabee and the Arkansas legislators who just sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would build the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people into state law.

    Tracking state-level legislation has become increasingly important. As the finish line approaches on full marriage equality in America, right-wing groups and legislators are digging in their heels and even repealing protections against discrimination. Basically, they’re using all the press and celebration over marriage to attempt a quiet undermining of the dozens of other rights not as yet afforded to LGBTQ people. The most recent example is in Kansas where the governor essentially cancelled protections for state employees by taking an executive action by former governor Kathleen Sebelius off the books.

    Not exactly a bastion of liberal thought in recent years, even the Washington Post editorial board is giving it to Governor Brownback on both moral and logistical grounds. Their editorial from last week titled "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance,” reads in part:

    "...his official rationale is embarrassingly weak. Just like chief executives in the private sector, governors and the president set workplace policies within their executive branches all the time. Those policies don’t apply to private employers; it’s up to lawmakers to mandate state or national anti-discrimination policy. That’s no reason for governors or the president to sanction discrimination in the meantime, particularly when “it makes good business sense to treat employees . . . with dignity and respect.”

    Help MarriageEquality.org and the local group Equality Kansas raise awareness and fight back by joining their action to let Governor Brownback know how you feel. You can call the Kansas state Capitol at 877-579-6757 and post a message for him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/govsambrownback and on Twitter at @govsambrownback.

    Also, keep an eye on your state; it is possible to celebrate the realization of one right while looking ahead to continue the fight beyond this victory.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Help finish off the fight for full marriage equality & track state-level discriminatory legislation at: MarriageEquality.org

    Join Marriage Equality USA and Equality Kansas fight Governor Brownback’s discriminatory executive action by calling the state capitol at 877-579-6757 and posting messages on Facebook and Twitter

    Sources/further reading:

    U.S. map of marriage equality via Freedom To Marry

    "Arkansas Legislature Passes Bill Allowing LGBT Discrimination” by Dominic Holden

    "Governor Brownback Cancels LGBT State Employee Protections” via Equality Kansas

    "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance” by The Washington Post editorial board

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #899 "Work still to be done (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Global Divestment Day via @350 - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: 350.org’s Global Divestment Day.

    The typically on-point Naomi Klein sums up the need for this action quite well:

    "Are fossil fuel companies — long toxic to our natural environment — becoming toxic in the public relations environment as well? It seems so.”

    Despite science, despite polling, despite even the Pope getting on board with the need to curb climate change — the prevalence of massive piles of money available to legislators, networks, educational institutions, and publishing outlets is keeping projects like the Keystone XL pipeline at the top of to-do lists.

    Last month the House of Representatives voted 266 to 153 to pass Keystone and the Senate followed last week with a strong, but not quite veto-proof majority of 62-36. Yes, that means some democrats voted in favor of the pipeline. The president has vowed to veto the project — our friends at the NRDC have a letter on their website you can sign asking him to keep his word — but that doesn’t change the amount of time being wasted on this toxic project. Alternative, renewable energy plans and necessary infrastructure bills languish while fossil fuels remain at the forefront.

    It’s clear that the only way to stop the construction of destructive and potentially catastrophic-to-the-climate projects such as Keystone is to make them financially untenable for the billionaire backers. If fossil fuels weren't guaranteed money makers, there wouldn’t be lobbyists pushing legislators to back such a destructive industry; there’d be nothing in it for them.

    Enter: Global Divestment Day. The entire world — six continents and dozens of countries — is participating on February 13th and 14th, joining with 350.org to speak en mass to their powerful institutions.

    The event info states the simple goal:

    "Together, we will show that we are a truly global and growing force to be reckoned with. As the fossil fuel industry throws more money at fossil fuel expansion, we will turn up the volume of our divestment movement. And we won’t stop until we win. Join us for Global Divestment Day on February 13 and 14 and together, let’s make fossil fuels history.”

    GoFossilFree.org and 350.org both link to the plans for the event. You can find an action near you, start your own, download the divestment campaigning toolkit — valuable and valid long past the event next week, and find campaigning and petitioning tools. Each region around the world has its own specific resources including a Step-by-Step Guide to Divestment. 350 and their coalition partners have done all the research for you; just click, join and use the tools they’ve made available at your finger tips.

    This all should be getting less controversial. Even — to the dismay of the conservative Catholics holding 30% of our Congressional seats — the Pope has gotten increasingly vocal on the disproportionate affect climate change has on the poor and our global responsibility to care for those who are without power and resources.

    As detailed by John Abraham at The Guardian, Dr. Michael Naughton, Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas thinks we haven’t heard the last from Pope Francis on climate change — and he’s guaranteeing an anti-capitalism bent to his position:

    "Francis will no doubt, in his punchy and prophetic tone, draw our attention to a market system that too often treats the environment like a commodity in what he describes as a 'throw away' culture. As he is never tired of repeating, the poor suffer the most from our ecological crisis. He will confront this 'logic of the market' with a 'logic of gift' that views the earth to be shared with all of humanity — a gift in need of great care and attention.

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m here for whatever your motivation might be to get on board with confronting climate change and demanding our institutions divest from supporting fossil fuels. It will take a truly world-wide effort to keep our planet livable for generations to come.

    TAKE ACTION:

    JOIN with 350.org for Global Divestment Day February 13th

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Add your name to @NRDC’s letter: “Tell President Obama You Stand Behind His Veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline!”

    Sources/further reading:

    "US House passes Keystone pipeline bill” at AlJazeera

    "Senate Passes Keystone Bill” by Alex Rogers at Time.com

    "White House Confirms Obama Will Veto TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline” by Carol Linnitt at DesmogBlog

    "The New School Submits Bold Plan to Tackle Climate Change” at The New School

    "Pope Francis plants a flag in the ground on climate change” by Dr. John Abraham at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #895 "Living like the world is ending (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Demand Congress Address Civil and Human Rights via @civilrightsorg - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Demand Congress Address Civil and Human Rights.

    Even those with only a cursory knowledge of the work done by Martin Luther King, Jr and the millions of Civil Rights activists from the founding of our country through today can look at the current climate in our courts and Congress and see the systematic dismantling of the protections fought for with blood and sweat and tears.

    From the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act to the announcement made by the newly GOP-lead Congress that the words “Civil Rights and Human Rights” had been deleted from the Senate Constitution Committee, the infrastructure that provided some measure of relief from pre-Civil War and Jim Crow days is crumbling.

    Perhaps the Grand Old Party thinks we are, indeed, post-racial and post-patriarchal. Or perhaps they simply don’t care about civil rights. Or perhaps they feel threatened by it. Or perhaps they are just trying to reduce their work load and simplify their jobs — we all know how hard they work the 132 days they’re in session.

    The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has a simple, important action at Civil Rights.org under the “Take Action” tab. Add your name to the letter with the clear title: "Congress Must Address Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2015.” Apparently this is something we must now remind our legislators is part of their job description.

    The letter urges your legislators to make 2015 a year of action on civil and human rights issues. The three categories this coalition of civil rights groups seeks to address are: Economic Security and Opportunity, Voting Rights, and Criminal and Racial Justice.

    Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, responded to the Senate’s decision to rename the Constitution committee. She said, in part:

    “The new Senate Republican Majority’s decision to expunge civil rights and human rights from this subcommittee’s name is a discouraging sign given the growing diversity of our nation and the complex civil and human rights challenges we face... Names matter. This, after all, is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of many of our most important civil rights laws... We cannot afford to demote the importance of civil and human rights in the 114th Congress. While we have made progress, we still have a long way to go to address issues such as voting discrimination and hate crimes and violence committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. In addition, the recent deaths of unarmed African-American men and boys at the hands of police have spurred a movement across the nation calling for reforms to our nation’s justice system, which would likely fall under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction.”

    Take two minutes and support The Leadership Conference in demanding that Congress tend to the needs and rights of all the citizens they represent. Considering their behavior so far this session, we’re going to need to continually remind them and it’s best we get started immediately.

    Also, if you haven’t yet, go see Ava DuVernay's “Selma.” The movie grabbed a nomination for Best Picture, but she was snubbed by the 94% white, 76% male academy voters in the director’s category. Anyone who’s seen the end of any awards show knows how rare this is; your movie is nominated, you clean up in additional nominations and typically in wins as well. When you see “Selma," you can feel the director’s influence; it would be an entirely different movie without her perspective behind the camera.

    It’s not enough to know what happened during King’s lifetime and be able to list the accomplishments of the movement — especially at a time when that legacy is being dismantled. Go see Selma and feel what happened.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name: Congress Must Address Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2015 via The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Go. See. Selma. Find listings HERE

    Sources/further reading:

    "Will Justice Scalia Be the Savior of the Fair Housing Act?” at ACLU.org

    "Civil and Human Rights Coalition Troubled by Deletion of “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from Senate Constitution Subcommittee” press release from The Leadership Conference

    “Yes, The Oscars Are So White, And Here’s Why That Matters” at MTV.com

    #OscarsSoWhite via @ReignOfApril

    Ava DuVernay: ‘Selma’ Is the ‘Vision of a Black Storyteller Undiluted’” by Mychal Denzel Smith at The Nation

    "Congress Will Be in Session Longer Next Year. Will It Make a Difference?” by Kate Scanlon at The Daily Signal

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #894 "Dispelling the selective memory of Dr. Martin Luther King"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • End Abortion Coverage Bans - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Abortion Coverage Bans.

    New year, same as the old year. Except slightly worse. The newly GOP-lead Congress announced their priorities for the 114th legislative session by exhaling the final word of the oath of office, removing their hands from their Bibles, and — without so much as pausing — introducing a slate of abortion restrictions.

    Because jobs? and national security? and…maybe they didn’t actually run on anything and this was always the plan. Their very unproductive plan to make restricting people’s bodily autonomy seem not so extreme and, in fact, mostly OK ahead of the presidential primary fundraising set to begin any moment.

    The first vote was scheduled for January 22nd which marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the seminal date in reproductive rights. They seem to have either zero recognition of history or zero shame — unsurprising from a group that voted over fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, knowing that any bill they passed would be vetoed.

    Similarly, the White House has promised to veto any anti-choice bills that make it through both the House and the Senate — but we can’t rely forever on the West Wing to be a stop gap for bad laws. And the one that passed last week — H.R.7 — is extremely bad policy.

    H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 — would make federal funding for abortion care double, extra, super secret illegal. It’s already on the books thanks to the Hyde Amendment which gets attached annually to the federal budget to prohibit people insured by Medicaid from using their coverage for abortion care. HR 7 would expand that access restriction to absolutely everyone in the country, no matter their insurance provider.

    Privately purchased plans, employer-provided plans, ACA plans — none would be allowed to offer abortion coverage. So much for the free market.

    As Emily Crockett reports at RH Reality Check, the medical community — who deal daily with patients struggling to afford care — are none to happy about H.R.7. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the group we probably should be listening to on this as they’re the experts — expressed his concern:

    “We remain disappointed that the House leadership continues to target abortion by pivoting to payment policies. Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns.”

    H.R. 7 is making its way to the Senate; you can track it’s progress at GovTrack.us and then use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your Senators know you expect them to vote “no” when it hits the floor.

    Even when H.R.7 is defeated, low-income Americans will be facing the renewal of the Hyde Amendment. Congress has seen fit to actually pass a budget the past couple of years, which means some GOP legislator will reintroduce Hyde to maintain the punishment of the poor. Disadvantaged Americans have long been on the legislative chopping block, used as tools and talking points by ambitious politicians without fear of reprisal.

    As the group All* Above All says in their letter to end Hyde: "It’s time to stop abortion coverage restrictions, plain and simple.”

    You can sign their letter to your representatives at AllAboveAll.org under the “Act” tab. If you are in a blue state, you have additional power here. Your representatives should be at least “check the box” pro-choice and moveable on this. The president has also revised his language on abortion and come out unapologetically without couched language against H.R. 7; it’s time he did the same with Hyde. President Obama can end this continual punishment of low-income and marginalized communities by promising to veto a budget that includes Hyde.

    The importance of ending coverage bans cannot be overstated. Only 13% of counties in the U.S. even have abortion providers thanks to TRAP laws and attacks since Roe. The affects of these bans is explained perfectly by Heidi Williamson, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress and long-time reproductive justice advocate:

    "We celebrate Roe as a standard and a vision that we must continue to strive for as a nation. All women, regardless of age, gender, income, socio-economic status, or funding source of insurance should benefit from its promise. And our fight for justice isn’t done until all woman have comprehensive reproductive health care, including the access to abortion services.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track H.R.7 via GovTrack.us and use Contacting the Congress to tell your Senators to vote NO when H.R.7 comes to the Senate.

    SIGN All* Above All’s letter opposing the Hyde Amendment on the 2016 budget: End Abortion Coverage Bans Now!

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN NARAL Pro-Choice America’s petitions to the 114th Congress:

    ”Ask the Republican Leaders: Where Are The Women?”

    ”Anti-Choice Politicians Don’t Speak For Me

    Sources/further reading:

    Graphic courtesy of The Repeal Hyde Art Project

    See who the H.R.7 co-sponsors were: Congressional Bill Tracker — H.R.7

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    "Roe Should Be a Reality for All, Not Just for a Wealthy Few” by Heidi Williamson at TalkPoverty.org

    "Congress Rejected A 20-Week Abortion Ban, But These States Didn’t” by Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #893 "Bringing harm, one patriarchal policy at a time (Abortion Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census via @ACCESS1971 & @NNAAC - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census.

    This is one of those: "Who knew this wasn’t already a thing and why do we even have to ask our policy makers to get on it?” kind of actions. But, apparently, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of people from the Middle East and North Africa — or MENA — region. MENA includes a significant number of Arab Americans — a group currently experiencing heightened discriminated thanks to fear mongering from the GOP and Fox News crowd. In such a climate, their receiving specific designation from a governmental body has political, cultural, and practical implications.

    Excluding a group from the Census essentially makes them invisible from a political and policy standpoint, so the National Network for Arab American Communities and their parent group the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services are building grassroots support to create a new category. The comment period is open now; you can add your name to help reach the necessary 5,0000 supporter mark by visiting the “Take Action” tab at NNAAC.org. Comments close February 1st; please act now so the opportunity doesn’t pass.

    A successful campaign would mean including the MENA region in the 2020 census, giving people from that community more power with office holders. Because people from the MENA region identify with many racial backgrounds, they are not viewed as a group from a governmental and policy standpoint. Rights often begin with recognition; Census classifications serve as a resource to local and federal officials charged with caring for their constituents.

    The Census is also used by non-profits and organizers; official recognition of the region allows for non-governmental agencies to address the needs of a community that is underserved, not just because of racism and malevolence, but also because of simple ignorance on the part of those who administer services.

    Visit NNAAC.org and add your name. The Census only comes around every ten years, so missing this opportunity means another decade without recognition.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Leave a positive comment by February 1 to support adding the MENA region to the Census

    Sources/further reading:

    Linda Sarsour speaks to MEMO about Islamophobia in America”

    "Radio Dispatch Live with Linda Sarsour and Vince Warren” on Radio Dispatch

    "For Republicans, Muslims Will Be the Gays of 2016” by Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #892 "Fearing and hating what we don’t understand (Religion)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Prohibit Mass Surveillance via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prohibit Mass Surveillance.

    For the background on today’s activism, I must channel my inner Thom Hartmann: This is mostly Ronald Reagan’s fault.

    In 1981, President Reagan signed an executive order — number 12333 — which, according to our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations.”

    This means NSA spying and mass surveillance.

    So, despite recent bills in Congress designed to curtail mass telephone surveillance, the NSA’s primary surveillance authority has been left unchallenged. The good news is that the fix is easy and the president seems open to using the final two years of his administration to do things unilaterally. Why it took so long to come to that conclusion is a mystery, but let’s take advantage of it now that it’s happened.

    The petition — available at EFF.org under the “Take Action” tab — asks for the president to reform Executive Order 12333 and issue a new order that “prohibits the United States from engaging in mass surveillance of digital communications.”

    The effects of this order have been somewhat hidden. According PEN America’s report “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide found that 75% of those living in democracies have engaged in self-censorship. Writers en mass now fear that their governments will not respect their right to privacy and freedom of expression — a seriously troubling trend.

    We already know far too little about our country’s law enforcement agencies and programs. If this trend continues, what’s left of our “Fourth Estate” watch dog press will decline even further. So, sign the EFF petition "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333” to curb the practice and restore — at least in part — our freedom of the press.

    Also, please take a minute to sign the petitions in the “Additional Activism” section of the segment notes. EFF is trying to prevent the Federal Elections Commission from adding harmful regulations to online political speech that could disproportionately impact free platforms like YouTube — and therefore all of us who use YouTube content. The comment period ends this week, so time is short. There is also a petition from the ACLU urging the president to use the power of the executive order to stop mass surveillance.

    Privacy, security, and Free Speech have always existed with tension. It is our job as citizens to demand our legislators and courts maintain a balance that errs on the side of uninhibited speech that promotes free thought and democracy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petition: "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Leave a comment for the Federal Elections Commission via EFF: "No New Regulation for Online Political Speech”

    SIGN the ACLU pledge: "Invasion of the Data Snatchers”

    Sources/further reading:

    "PEN America: "'The Harm Caused by Surveillance...is Unmistakable’” via EFF

    "Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers” from PEN American Center

    "The Fight in Congress to End the NSA’s Mass Spying: 2014 in Review” at EFF

    "ACLU accuses NSA of using holiday lull to ‘minimise impact’ of documents” by Nicky Woolf at The Guardian

    "US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches” by Phillip Inman at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #890 "Why privacy matters (NSA Spying)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #BlackBrunch - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #BlackBrunch.

    To a privileged group of mostly white people, brunch is held up as almost sacred. The word provokes images of leisure and lazy Sundays, mimosas and bloody marys. And though plenty of socially conscious people eat brunch — some even use it to organize, because, well, brunch is certainly cheaper than dinner — it still has that “feel" to it. A doing what you want, when you want, because you can “feel.”

    A group of creative organizers in Oakland decided they would take peaceful protesting to a group that on the whole doesn’t engage and has the privilege to ignore social injustice — specifically racial injustice. And so #BlackBrunch was launched with protests in the Bay Area and Manhattan.

    Writer Muna Mire describes the goals of the protests and the organizing on the hashtag:

    "The idea behind Black Brunch is to target those who can afford to avert their gaze, bringing the struggle for racial justice to the table, literally, so that it’s impossible to ignore. Brunch is the hallowed tradition of the affluent, the comfortable, and often those with enough white privilege to insulate them from the struggle to end the war of on Black life in America.”

    Predictably, the first round of protests — especially in New York — were met with mixed reactions. While some stood when asked at the end of the demonstrations, many couldn’t resist being ridiculously racist and threatening. Posts to social media like the one made by former NYPD officer John Cardillo proved why the protests are so necessary. Holding his gun up in front of his nose with his finger on the trigger, he posted: “I’m really enjoying these Eggs Benedict so move along now” to the hashtag when a group briefly interrupted his meal.

    Michelle Malkin called the coordinated wave of actions: “Attack of the ‘Black Brunch’ Brats." For the New York Post, she writes: "Opposing racism now means practicing it in the most obnoxious manner possible.”

    Because the extrajudicial death of a person of color at the hands of police isn’t “obnoxious” or reason enough to put down your biscotti for four and a half minutes — a time honoring the four and a half hours Mike Brown’s body was left in the street in Ferguson.

    #BlackBrunch protests are organized and carried out by people of color — as is, I’m sure, clear from the name and the description. My job as a privileged white guy is to amplify the organizing — especially with an action that can be taken in any city around the country by a small group of individuals — and also to pass along some advice to my white listeners who recognize their privilege, but want to support these actions without co-opting them.

    And so, should you, white listener, find yourself at a #BlackBrunch unexpectedly, Derrick Clifton of Mic News has some tips on how to recognize your privilege and handle yourself and your potential discomfort appropriately:

    1 — Remain calm and listen.
    2 — Use the time to reflect on the issue.
    3 — If you're able, stand in support when asked.
    4 — Continue eating as usual after the demonstration ends.
    5 — Share what happened with family and friends.

    Please follow the #BlackBrunch hashtag and remember that one of the most powerful things you can do is to push back on the racism in your networks. Post the stories, videos and articles on your social networks and respond to the comments you hear in your daily life. Silence equals consent; it’s time we all did more shouting.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get the info on #BlackBrunch: