Saturday, January 31, 2015

MAYDAY's 2015 action plan

I am not aware that the MAYDAY leadership has enunciated anything further about its 2015 action plan since its December pronouncement. In December it said "That we can’t wait for the next election. We must continue this work now." and it elaborated:
So over the next year, that’s what we’re going to do. Our team is already spec-ing out a platform that will make it possible for our most important resource — you — to help us recruit members of Congress to support reform. That’s not a platform to ask for money. And it won’t demand much of the voters’ time. But it will enable us to recruit voters in targeted districts to make a simple ask of their incumbent representatives: Will you co-sponsor fundamental reform? And then to create the campaign to get them to yes. [See What we learned in 2014? and MAYDAY's next step.]
To me, it seems a critical matter of exactly how MAYDAY views "recruit[ing] members of Congress to support reform" in light of an ostensible legislative divide between Republicans and Democrats, in which it could be asserted that Democratic members of Congress support reform and Republican members do not. See Soul searching re: Gov't by People Act. Also, consider the 54 to 42 vote in the United States Senate last September relating to the overturn of Citizens United. The 54 senators in favor of taking the step to overturn Citizens United were all Democrats and the 42 against were all Republicans.

I don't think MAYDAY can be successful if it has a 2015 action plan that merely runs off the foregoing ostensible divide between Democrats and Republicans, particularly taking into account the way Congress will be controlled by the Republicans for the next two years.

I think MAYDAY needs to fashion a pitch for reform that can be targeted at both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

This is being developed in some quarters.

David Goodman, a team leader of the Central New Jersey Committee of Represent.Us, published this piece "A new populist alliance: Why progressives and the Tea Party should work together"  in the Times of Trenton January 4, 2015 guest opinion column.  (David's piece is posted at NHRebellion: What can non-walkers be doing?)

See also this US News & World Report op/ed piece: Why Conservatives Should Take a Principled Stand against Citizens United.

Represent.Us is conducting an initiative to obtain endorsements by small business owners of  the provisions of the American Anti-Corruption Act. (Information about this initiative may be found at this link: Represent.Us small business endorsement.)

In Alabama I have done a lot of tweeting trying to push this. See More for Alabama small business.

I look forward to seeing more of a 2015 action plan by MAYDAY, and I hope the plan will include tactics for recruiting both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to support reform.

Continued at Getting the message out.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Center for Competitive Politics

I previously made the suggestion of A time to debate.

The below are copied and pasted from the website of the Center For Competitive Politics. This (and other material on the website) might be matters for discussion and debate.

Contribution Limits

In many federal and state elections, the size of contributions which candidates may legally receive from individuals, parties, political action committees (PACs), corporations, and unions are capped at a specific financial amount. In most states, individual contributions to political parties and PACs are also restricted. These limitations restrict the ability of individuals to associate with the candidates and groups of their choice, a problematic outcome in a country whose First Amendment guarantees “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that such limitations are only permissible when they are based on a non-partisan effort to reduce corruption or the appearance of corruption. The First Amendment, according to the Court, prohibits the imposition of campaign contribution limits that attempt to “level the playing field.”
Proponents of restrictions on campaign contributions frequently argue that campaign donations “corrupt” government in a variety of ways, from raising the cost of government through inappropriate giveaways to larger contributors to lowering the overall quality of government by diverting the attention of policymakers away from average citizens who opt not to make large campaign contributions. However, the Center’s compilation of theexisting research on the effects of money in politics, and our own research on contribution limits and corruption cast doubt on these assumptions. Additionally, we find no correlation between contribution limits on individual giving to candidates and “good” government, or limits on corporate and union giving directly to candidates and “good” government, and thus look negatively on any legislation which seeks to needlessly limit citizens’ First Amendment rights through arbitrarily low limits on campaign giving.
Low contribution limits are especially attractive to incumbent legislators because they allow these officials to claim that they are not influenced by lobbyists or special interests (although research refutes the contention that the presence or absence of contribution limits has any effect on the factors influencing elected officials), and because low limits often perversely serve as an incumbency protection measure. Challengers, who ofter have significantly less name recognition and lack an established donor base, typically spend more time fundraising than incumbents. In this manner, limits on the size of campaign contributions have the effect of disproportionately harming challengers. This is yet another reason why the Center argues against the imposition of low contribution limits on what individuals can contribute to their favored candidates.
For an in-depth examination of contribution limits and their failure to achieve their stated policy goals, please readCCP’s Policy Primer on campaign contribution limits here.

The subject of corporate political speech is controversial, but the principles underlying it are rather simple. Corporations have the right to spend money on political speech because corporations are voluntary associations of individuals. When John has the right to spend his money on political speech, and Jane has the right to spend her money on political speech, it makes no sense to argue that John and Jane should not have a right to spend their money on political speech together. Corporate political speech is no different except that it typically involves a far greater number of people than John and Jane, but size shouldn’t be an issue. Just as political parties and non-profit advocacy groups have the right to speak on political issues, so too do corporations and unions.
Although this principle is simple and consistent, it has only recently been acknowledged in law as the result of two Supreme Court rulings from 2010:  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and SpeechNow.Org v. Federal Election Commission. Following these rulings, those wishing to silence corporate voices have been forced to abandon attempts to legislate away these associations’ rights, and have adopted a new tactic of “activist investing.”
Activist investing is the process whereby politically concerned individuals and groups purchase a minimum number of shares in a company, not solely or principally with the intention of maintaining those shares for their wealth-generating potential, but instead to attempt to force corporate votes on political initiatives concerning labor relations and political spending. Accommodating these activists could hurt a corporation’s bottom line, and the mere threat posed by their presence could lead to corporate self-censorship that harms the societal discourse surrounding political issues by silencing business organizations and industry advocates. With more than half of Americans owning shares of publicly traded companies, and many more owing their income to corporate employment (and, by extension, a healthy corporate balance sheet), corporations represent a vital economic viewpoint. Americans are entitled to have their political choices informed by a broad range of interests, including those of corporations.
Put simply, shareholder activists are asking corporations to surrender their constitutional rights because these activist investors oppose what they presume will be the existing political interests of these businesses. As a result, corporations may voluntarily choose not to participate in the political process, but both corporate managers and engaged citizens should be concerned about this outcome. Bullying certain voices out of the political discussion is never a good idea, and neglecting to speak out on important issues may lead corporations, and therefore their shareholders and employees, to suffer from bad laws that could have been improved by political participation from corporate interests.
For more information, please refer to the links at the left and to


In most state and federal elections, if you contribute anything greater than de minimis amounts to a candidate running for elected office, a political party, or a Political Action Committee (PAC), you must acquiesce to having your name, address, employer, and occupation published in a government database. Often, this sensitive, personal information is posted on the Internet for anyone to see – including your coworkers and nosy neighbors. More political disclosure information is required currently than at any time in our history, and it’s troubling to see citizens being required to register with the government just to exercise their First Amendment rights. The Center works to ensure that disclosure requirements do not become overly burdensome or threatening to donor privacy.
Increasingly, we find donor information being used by non-governmental entities and individuals to harass, threaten, or financially harm speakers or contributors to candidates and causes with whom they disagree. Once contributor information becomes public, little can be done to safeguard against potential harassment. The government agencies that manage these databases have also shown a tendency to accidentally leak private and sensitive information about donors.
While disclosure of significant financial contributors can inform voters as to who is supporting a candidate, low disclosure thresholds make disclosure information less meaningful by muddying disclosure reports with the names and addresses of smaller, inconsequential donors. Although sold as a virtue, disclosure comes with a cost, and is often very invasive. Accordingly, disclosure should be mandated only at thresholds that capture the most significant donors to candidates and causes.
For an in-depth explanation of this complex and oft-mischaracterized issue, please read CCP’s Policy Primer on disclosure here.

Tax Financed Campaigns (Public Financing)

Taxpayer-funded political campaigns, often called “clean elections” by their supporters, are programs that seek to replace private, voluntary contributions from individuals to the candidates of their choice with government grants to qualifying candidates. Typically, these programs allow candidates to “opt in” if they agree both to limits on the size and source of their campaign contributions and to limits on their campaign spending. In exchange, these qualifying candidates receive either a lump sum grant of taxpayer funds, or “matching grants” of tax dollars for each small contribution they receive. Proponents have touted these programs as a way to “level the playing field” between wealthy citizens and average or poor citizens. However, the Center’s research on these programs disputes these claims. Accordingly, CCP urges policymakers to use caution and examine the full-body of evidence when faced with proposals to implement similar programs in their states.
Several prominent jurisdictions have attempted taxpayer-funded programs for legislative campaigns. New York City implemented its program in the 1970s, Arizona and Maine have had their own “clean elections” laws in effect since 2000, and Connecticut joined the club in 2008. Analysis of each of these systems finds that they overwhelmingly fail to live up to the lofty goals set by their supporters.
The Center has reported on how taxpayer-funded campaigns have been willfully exploited and manipulated by candidates seeking to abuse public funds for personal gain. Contrary to the claims of advocates, CCP’s research in Arizona and Maine has shown that taxpayer-funded elections do not reduce lobbyist influencedo not produce more occupationally diverse legislaturesdo not increase the percentage of women in legislatures, and do not reduce government spending. Additional research by CCP has demonstrated that taxpayer-financed campaign systems do not increase voter turnout either, contrary to proponents’ frequent claims.
In addition, CCP studied the voting patterns of legislators who served in the Connecticut General Assembly in the 2007-08 and 2009-10 legislative sessions, and accepted taxpayer dollars for their re-election campaigns through the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP). Analysis of legislator voting records revealed that the CEP failed to change the frequency with which participating legislators voted in favor of the positions of organized interest groups.
The Center will continue to monitor and evaluate these programs, and will strive to author the best scholarship on taxpayer-funded elections, in order to provide citizens and policymakers with the information necessary to making wise decisions about the value of such programs. So far, they have performed poorly, opening up new avenues for corruption, and failing to achieve their stated goals.
For an in-depth explanation of this oft-touted, but severely flawed issue, please read CCP’s Policy Primer on taxpayer-financed campaigns here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What little people can do

Yesterday, I sent tweets to persons who had tweeted using #getmoneyout. The tweet I sent asked "What can little people do?" and gave a link to What can little people do? I have had 576 page views of that link. I estimate that I received more than 50 retweets, favorites, follows, and replies.

Replies I received included:

Stand up. stand together and get lazy voters to understand they are a part of the problem

very good Rob

Enjoyed your blog! Thx for sharing!

Thanks for the link

We are like fingers that can be easily broken unless we form a fist together. United we are strong. Never give up.

I'm 100% down with Lessig on analysis, intelligence, and heart. But public financing is delusional, we need an amendment.

Unite.Across party and ideological lines on this one issue. United citizenry can tell the Congress what to do. How? Hmmm


Charge....straight ahead and vote!!!

Oh, and there's no such thing as little people in my book. Just people who have been scared/bullied into not participating


thanks - posted it

Regular ppl are only ones who can Big $ won't give up power itself. We need more demonstrators and petitioners

..who are these "little" people you refer to??

Screw the tea party!

More big things than a senator...

'Little people' can raise their voices to help make a better world.

Great work Rob. Do you know about this small business owner support?

UNITE! Our strength lies in our numbers.

Well, thousands of little people can make a lot of noise together and get a lot of things done.

Speak through a loud speaker so the big people can hear. Never give up/never surrender on fight for the future

join and volunteer with

Join together in community - State, Petition Political Leaders to make Law and Policy supporting small business and people

I personally am trying to help advance the plan for reform of MAYDAY.US. Per the MAYDAY.US website, the plan has four stages:

  1. In 2014, we will pilot the idea of a superPAC intervening in elections to support candidates who favor reform. The objective of this pilot intervention will be to both (a) convince Congress of the salience of this issue to voters, and (b) determine how best to intervene to move voters on the basis of this issue.
  2. Based on what we learn in 2014, in 2016 we will engage in as many races as we need to win a majority in Congress who have either cosponsored or committed to cosponsor fundamental reform legislation.
  3. In 2017, we will then press to get Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that fundamentally reforms the way elections are funded.
  4. After a Congress has been elected under this new system, we will push for whatever constitutional reform is necessary to secure the gains from this reform.
After the 2014 election returns, MAYDAY did an analysis and interpreted the elections as showing there was great difficulty of voters voting against their party in partisan, contested situations, and said that MAYDAY would shift its focus to getting involved in "safe seat" elections or in primary elections.

In December MAYDAY pronounced "That we can’t wait for the next election. We must continue this work now." MAYDAY elaborated:
So over the next year, that’s what we’re going to do. Our team is already spec-ing out a platform that will make it possible for our most important resource — you — to help us recruit members of Congress to support reform. That’s not a platform to ask for money. And it won’t demand much of the voters’ time. But it will enable us to recruit voters in targeted districts to make a simple ask of their incumbent representatives: Will you co-sponsor fundamental reform? And then to create the campaign to get them to yes. [See What we learned in 2014? and MAYDAY's next step.]

What do you think about what MAYDAY is trying to do in 2015?

What personal effort are you willing to make to help advance MAYDAY's plan in 2015?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More action with Represent.Us

Per the below email, I am trying to get more action going with Represent.Us regarding its small business initiative. (For earlier information, see Team up with Represent.Us re: small business.)
From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 7:58 AM
Subject: Can I get info on work of others on small business initiative?
To: Matt <>
Dear Matt,
I am continuing to contact small businesses in the Birmingham area in connection with the the Represent.Us small business initiative.
I have sent hundreds of tweets utilizing the follower list for the Birmingham Business Alliance. These tweets have produced 88 page views of my blog entry Small business and money in politics and 139 page views of my blog entry More on Congress failing small business.
This has been joined with communications to the Birmingham Business Journal, the most recent of which is this letter I sent to the Journal yesterday.
I would like to find out what others are doing on the small business initiative in other parts of the country and possibly trade ideas with them.
Can you give me contact information for other persons who have been pressing the small business initiative in other parts of the country?
Rob Shattuck

Monday, January 19, 2015

Congress "dependent on people" question

In yesterday's news cycle, it broke that President Obama, in his State of the Union address tomorrow, will propose billions of dollars of tax hikes for some and billions of dollars of tax cuts for others.

What would a Congress "dependent on the people and not dependent on funders" do in response to this proposal?

Maybe we don't have answers to every question, but we should at least consider the matter.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Soul searching re: Gov't by People Act

In the last Congress, House Bill H.R. 20, The Government by the People Act, was introduced by John Sarbanes on February 5, 2014. According to this Congressional reference, H.R. 20 had 160 co-sponsors. In scrolling down the list, I identify only one Republican co-sponsor, to wit, Walter Jones, of North Carolina, who was one of MAYDAY's eight anti-corruption candidates in the 2014 elections.

The 2014 elections have pushed Congress more to the Republican side.

Ostensibly, this is not auspicious for having a reform minded Congress by 2016, including not auspicious for MAYDAY's recent indication that we cannot wait for the 2016 elections and voters should be recruited to ask members of the new Congress to co-sponsor fundamental reform legislation.

This calls for some soul searching I think.

Our contention is that the corruption of campaign finance impairs Congress in properly doing its job for the American people.

To keep things clear, Congress "properly doing its job for the American people" does not mean that everyone (in the 99%, or whatever) will get exactly what they want.

"Properly doing its job for the American people," to me, means Congress being more accountable and responsive to (in Lessig's words "dependent on") the people, if not exclusively then much more so, and not so "dependent" on the funders.

What then is to be said about H.R. 20 and that all except one of the 160 co-sponsors were Democrats?

Is it that the case has not been sufficiently made to the voters, including Republican voters, that we all suffer from an impaired Congress?

Is it that it is not possible to make a sufficient case about this?

Are Democratic leaders insufficiently persuaded about Congressional impairment case, and they are ineffective in making the case to the American people? Are they half-hearted (or less) about this?

Relative to my Alabama 6th Congressional district, Democratic Representative Terri Sewell of the adjacent 7th Congressional district has declined to make any response to this letter Dear Representative Sewell, and the Democratic candidate in the 6th Congressional district, Mark Lester, declined to make any response to this Open letter to Professor Mark Lester.

What does it signify if Representative Sewell and Democratic candidate Mark Lester declined to make any response to my letters?

I think Democrats in my area should be demanding of responses from Representative Sewell and Professor Lester.

I think Representative Sewell should cross district lines and call on the newly elected Congressman Palmer of the 6th district  to respond to Just answer the question, Gary Palmer. I think those Democrats who co-sponsored H.R. 20 and remain in Congress should be more vocal in stating the "impairment of Congress" case to the voters and should be willing to cross district lines to state the case in districts represented by Republicans.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

About Jim Rubens

Jim Rubens ran in the 2014 New Hampshire Republican primary for the United States Senate. He was one of the eight anti-corruption candidates that MAYDAY.US supported in the 2014 elections. See MAYDAY Fact Sheet.

Jim is continuing his anti-corruption work, as is indicated here: Rubens Speaks on Article V Convention & Political Money Corruption. Jim has speeches scheduled for January 21, 22 and 30 in New Hampshire.

Jim's continuing work legitimately raises questions of:

What continuing work are the other seven MAYDAY anti-corruption candidates doing? Should MAYDAY supporters be asking those candidates about their continuing work?

What would MAYDAY like to see coming from would be Congressional candidates for 2016?

Friday, January 16, 2015

On Bird-Dogging Presidential Candidates

Tonight, there will be a presentation on the NHRebellion walk, Dixville Notch route, which is entitled "Activist Training: Bird-Dogging the Presidential Candidates."

On January 18th, on the Nashua route, there will further be "Presentation by Zephyr Teachout & Bird-Dog Training," and January 20th, on the Keene route, there will be "Bird-dog training provided by American Friends Service Committee."

In the Lesterland paradigm, the Lester election that the funders vote in, before the rest of us participate, has started. See Look who's in the news.

It seems to me that a good geometric object for depicting the distribution of pernicious effect of "money in politics" (resistance to reform) is a hyperbolic cone. In the broad base, at the lower level, there is the most open mindedness and least resistance. As you go up the cone in the center where it projects upward, the resistance to reform increases "exponentially" and the potency of the resistance increases similarly. This is in part because those at a slightly lower level are attuned to the preferences of those just above (necessary in order for the former to be able to move up).

In short, while there is the most power and influence at the Presidential level for advancing reform, I think only the most miniscule attention is going to be paid to the reform movement at the Presidential level.

There is nothing wrong with trying to bird-dog the Presidential candidates about reform, but the paucity of any impact should be kept in mind.

The hyperbolic cone referred to above is well acknowledged by the reform organizations, such as Move To Amend and Represent.Us, who have focused on working from the bottom up. Move to Amend has been assiduously at work for some years to get passage of resolutions by local governing bodies and state legislatures in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Represent.Us has gotten focused on anti-corruption laws at the local level.

This lower level, grassroots effort is very arduous and takes longer than is desired, but it is viewed by Move To Amend and Represent.Us as what is necessary to achieve success ultimately.

MAYDAY's plan is at the Congressional level, which is in the midrange between the lower level of local resolutions and laws and the highest level of Presidential politics.

It would seem that more needs to unfold from MAYDAY regarding its midrange approach at the Congressional level.

6/15/15 See Bird-dogging in NH today

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Look who's in the news

In alphabetical order:

Jeb Bush:  "Jeb Bush Begins Wooing Donors for a 2016 Bid", New York Times, Jan. 6, 2015

Chris Christie: "Christie to Announce PAC as Republicans Eye Donors", New York Times First Draft, Jan. 13, 2015

Ted Cruz: "Ted Cruz could struggle to raise funds for presidential run", The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 1, 2014 ("to make a serious White House bid takes serious money — at least $20 million by the time the first ballots are cast in early 2016.")

Mike Huckabee: "Mike Huckabee Leaves Fox News as He Weighs 2016 Bid", ABC News, Jan. 3, 2015 (reason  "so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support").

Rand Paul: "Double Dip: How Rand Paul Can Legally Tap His Biggest Donors Twice", National Journal, Jamuary 4, 2015

George Pataki: "Pataki for President? Not as Far-Fetched as It Sounds", New York Observer, Dec. 11, 2014 "(the ability to persuade donors that you can win is central to effective fundraising")

Rick Perry: "Rick Perry video aims to attract presidential donors, supporters", The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 11, 2014

Mitt Romney: "Mitt Romney reaches out to donors in Jeb Bush’s home state of Florida", New York Daily News, Jan. 14, 2015

Marco Rubio: "Rubio talks 2016 with donors", Politico, Dec. 12, 2014

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Help me out here re: social security

I am trying to set up this Case study of political leadership failure, related to last week's House action that will potentially reduce significantly the payment of social security disability benefits  (reported by The Hill article "Dems warn of Social Security cuts").

Our contention is that Congress is impaired by "money in politics" and is unable to do its job properly in addressing important issues for the American people.

I want to develop this contention in the "continuation of case study," which my entry indicates I am going to do.

If you have any suggestions for how I should develop the contention in my "case study," please pass them on to me.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NHRebellion, reading walk blog, etc.

NHRebellion, I am reading your walk blog and looking at your walk photos.

It's damn cold.

How can things be fired up around the country, particularly vis a vis MAYDAY's plan to have a reform minded Congress by 2016?

In the Alabama 6th Congressional district, after ten months, I cannot say the first candle has been lit (unless I can count as a candle).

Yesterday, I posted and tweeted this to MAYDAY community: As the NHRebellion walkers walk.

We gotta get more stokers.

You agree?

Monday, January 12, 2015

As the NHRebellion walkers walk

I live in Alabama and am not walking in New Hampshire.

I keep up with MAYDAY.US, and

I keep in mind that  "The MaydayPAC is an independent political action committee (“superPAC”) that aims to elect a Congress committed to fundamental reform in the way political campaigns are funded by 2016."

I know the MaydayPAC will be spending its funds to advance its plan in the 2016 elections.

I don't know how much MAYDAY supporters, such as myself, who are not spending funds can contribute to advancing MAYDAY's plan.

For what it's worth, here is what I did this weekend as the NHRebellion walkers started their walk: See NHRebellion: What can non-walkers be doing? and NHRebellion: Thank you for suggestions.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

NHRebellion: Thank you for suggestions

Yesterday I posted and tweeted NHRebellion: What can non-walkers be doing?

I received back several suggestions, including links to Virtual Walkersdonating my Twitter or Facebook account,  and the general Get Involved page, and "letters to editor, spread word of walk in progress, walk locally (there will be a form for adding miles), sponsor walkers."

In my mind, the most critical thing is to publicize to the public the "money in politics" problem.

I have a very tough case in the Alabama 6th Congressional district. I have been assiduously trying to publicize for ten months the "money in politics" problem, and it has been very tough going. See Be An Alabama Rootstriker* with Rob Shattuck.

My immediate (this weekend) publicizing in Birmingham is described in NHRebellion: What can non-walkers be doing?

Probably not much can be added in my Alabama 6th Congressional district tough case by sharing NHRebellion on Facebook and Twitter. Nonetheless I am proceeding to share NHRebellion on Facebook and Twitter, including asking others to donate their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Walkers will presumably have lots of time for conversations with one another.

I would be very interested if conversations could take place, which could lead to providing me feedback, on the following questions:

1. What can be done to get Congressional candidates or would be candidates going for 2016? Please see What about candidates? What do you think about a single issue ("root problem") campaign versus a multiple issues campaign? See Roy Cho candidacy: Root problem vs. multiple issues

2. How can similarly minded organizations and their supporters better join their voices in publicizing to the public the "money in politics" problem? See Team up with Represent.Us re: small businessTrying for MoveToAmend, and Melding with

3. What do you think about "tweet bombing" as a tactic at some point in the 2016 elections? See Tweet bombing for Congressional candidates.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NHRebellion: What can non-walkers be doing?

David Goodman, a team leader of the Central New Jersey Committee of Represent.Us, published this piece "A new populist alliance: Why progressives and the Tea Party should work together"  in the Times of Trenton January 4, 2015 guest opinion column. David posted the article on the MAYDAYPAC Facebook Group Page.

 I agree with what David Goodman says, and I have reproduced his opinion piece below.

I have been implementing the concept in my own ways. Right at the moment I am using the @BHAMBizAlliance followers page to tweet to small businesses in Birmingham, Alabama, a link to this More on Congress failing small business.

Opinion: A new populist alliance: Why progressives and the Tea Party should work together


By David Goodman
The idea that progressives and the Tea Party should work together may sound crazy. After all, don’t they look upon each other with great suspicion? But, if such an alliance were achieved at grass roots levels, it could have a powerful effect on both our politics and our economy.
The hyper-partisanship in Washington would seem to leave little room for such compromise. The 2014 year-end, 1,600-page financial bill, known as “Cromnibus,” highlighted this. Members of the Tea Party hated the budget bill. Their preference would have been to shut down the government; in fact, they voted as a bloc to do so.
The Tea Party members of Congress were outraged by President Obama’s use of executive authority in areas ranging from health care to climate change to immigration. For them, approving the fiscal year budget and restoring regular order were akin to sanctioning illegal and unconstitutional actions. Even the bill’s provision to limit funding of Homeland Security, which has authority over immigration, did not mollify these partisans. Expect more drama and confrontation with the 114th Congress.
Progressives were equally unhappy with the budget bill. They objected to cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, which would slow climate regulations. Their fury was especially heated on the rider that weakens the Dodd-Frank Act. Its effect rolls back measures that protect taxpayers from Wall Street’s excesses. Complaining loudly, progressives claimed that Citigroup’s lobbyists had written 70 of the 85 lines of this rollback provision. If Tea Party members shared this concern, and some may have, it was muted.
So, where is the common ground on which to stage alliances between progressives and the Tea Party? The answer may lie in the latest blow to campaign finance law and regulation. Buried at the end of the 1,600-page Cromnibus Bill are provisions that allow wealthy donors to pour even more money into elections, campaigns and political conventions. While progressives, since Citizen United, have cried foul over the powers of crony capitalism and dark money to corrupt our democracy, Tea Party members have largely been silent. Until now.
What ignited the Tea Party’s anger over this latest assault on campaign finance law was a calculated decision by establishment Republicans to marginalize them. The bill encourages wealthy donors to contribute big dollars to the two main political parties and their conventions. The Tea Party, until now, has relied on these independent sources to challenge the Republican Party. Republican leaders now have pushed back to regain control.
In short, new populist alliances have little appeal to the Washington establishment, on either the left or the right, and least of all to financial barons like the Koch brothers. They prefer to build their own power bases. Instead, we need to look to the foot soldiers in the progressive and Tea Party camps. If there is light at the end of this tunnel, it is not on Capitol Hill but in our towns and cities.
In 1932, Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis referred to the states as “laboratories of democracy” for experimenting with social legislation that became models for FDR’s New Deal. In the second decade of the 21st century, cities and towns are the laboratories of our democracy. Unsung heroes on both the right and the left, despite their differences, are finding common ground in anti-corruption laws and campaign finance reform to restore democracy in their own back yards.
The best example to date is Tallahassee, Fla. There, a broad-based grass roots coalition, including Common Cause Florida, the Tea Party Network, the League of Women Voters and the Florida Alliance of Retired Americans, came together and turned the American Anti-Corruption Act into a municipal proposal for voter approval in 2014. The problem? The coalition found that less than 1 percent of Tallahassee’s population contributed to candidates for the city commission. The rest came from outside groups and individuals with significant financial stake in the commission’s decisions.
To end this corruption, the proposed law would lower contribution limits from $1,000 to $250; establish a $25 tax rebate for all Tallahassee voters to become potential political campaign donors, making the commission accountable to them, and create an independent ethics officer to oversee the process. On Election Day, the voters responded by approving the charter change by a 2:1 margin.

For this to spread across the nation and succeed, populist alliances need to add economic issues to their anti-corruption campaigns. The reality is that most rank-and-file progressives and Tea Party members are everyday citizens. The challenge is to suspend political differences and unite in opposition to dark money and corporate control of our government. The special-interest lobbies in finance, energy and other industries have not only distorted our politics but accelerated economic inequality and the loss of middle-class jobs. Low-wage jobs increase corporate profits — and Wall Street loves them — but democracy will not last without a strong middle class. If politicians will not represent us, we risk a steady rise in oligarchy, regardless of our politics.
David Goodman, Ph.D., is a team leader of the Central New Jersey Committee of Represent.Us.
Follow The Times of Trenton on Twitter @TimesofTrenton. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Letter to Prof. Lessig: Not from a Birmingham jail

Dear Professor Lessig,

I got your email yesterday about the second NHRebellion walk across New Hampshire, which starts on Saturday.

I will be staying put in the less harsh clime of Mountain Brook, Alabama, but I want to keep you apprised of the work I have been doing, which will continue during the ten day walk in New Hampshire cold and snow, and beyond.

The 114th United States Congress convenes today. I would have liked to have engineered a "thunderclap" of tweets or emails to greet our country's Senators and Representatives gathered in Washington today. That was not within my capacity, but over the past few days I sent a couple hundred tweet messages to MAYDAY supporters and others. A tweet message I used was: "To the 114th United States Congress: Please reduce the influence of money in politics."  My tweets contained a link to I have had over 350 page views of that link, plus upwards of eighty to a hundred retweets and favoritings of my tweets. Not a "thunderclap", but something.

In December, you said, "We can’t wait for the next election cycle – we must begin now [to recruit members of Congress to support reform]."

I can only contribute minisculely to recruiting members of Congress as MAYDAY desires, but I am doing and will do what I can.

My new Congressman Gary Palmer, whose election in the Alabama 6th Congressional district was certain after he won the Republican primary run off election last July, has been mightily bugged by me to speak about the need for reform (or not, if he believed reform was not needed), but Mr. Palmer has steadfastly declined to respond. I doubt that Mr. Palmer can be recruited to support fundamental reform.

In the Alabama legislative delegation in Washington, Senators Sessions and Shelby are Republicans, six of the seven Representatives are Republicans, and Terri Sewell of the 7th district is a Democrat. I doubt whether any of the eight Republicans in the Alabama legislative delegation will support reform as MAYDAY desires, but I will continue my work on them.

Your December 9th email refers to recruiting voters in "targeted districts" to ask their representatives to co-sponsor fundamental reform. I think I am the original "tweet bomber"  and I have solicited persons in other states or other districts to "tweet bomb" into a a state or district in which they don't live. I continue to advocate that. Your December 9th email says you will ask for advice and help from supporters. I suggest that MAYDAY urge tweet bombing into "targeted districts" by persons outside the targeted districts.

MAYDAY's basic goal of electing a reform minded Congress remains in place. I will probably try to run as an independent Congressional candidate in the 2016 in the the Alabama 6th Congressional district.

Yesterday, I spoke with Steve Stokes, who was an independent candidate for Congress in the California 28th Congressional district in 2014. Steve is thinking seriously about trying again in 2016. Steve and I discussed a couple of things related to MAYDAY. 

We discussed that Steve ran a multiple issue campaign, and that I ran a single issue ("root issue") campaign. I acknowledged that a single issue campaign may be a practical impossibility. That does not change that a multiple issue campaign risks losing support from large numbers of voters who may have strong views opposite the candidate's positions on other issues. It is a real quandary.

Also, Steve and I discussed Congressional candidates or would be candidates coming to the MAYDAY Facebook pages to introduce themselves to MAYDAY supporters and engage in discussion there about their positions about reform. I said to Steve that my understanding is that MAYDAY still has in place a decision made last year to prohibit Congressional candidates or would be candidates from posting on the MAYDAY Facebook pages.

I said it seemed very unhelpful to MAYDAY's plan for electing a reform minded Congress to prohibit candidates from posting on the MAYDAY Facebook pages to seek support there, with a view to those offering their support to communicate that to other voters. Steve and I discussed that the"coordination" rules may inhibit what MAYDAY is prepared to allow from candidates on the MAYDAY Facebook pages.

May you find ways to keep warm next week.

Sincerely (from my Mountain Brook home),

Saturday, January 3, 2015

To the 114th United States Congress

Ideas are scary things.

Untold millions of Americans are yearning for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people in Washington DC, and for a Congress that works.

You can hear from many of these Americans via these organizations and websites:  MAYDAY.US, Represent.Us, No LabelsConvention of States, Move To Amend, and

You have the power for this.

What are you afraid of?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Will you be in the wave?

Do you know David Lewis?
He wants you to be in a wave election in 2016.
Below is an email he sent me.
Send David Lewis an email, and tell him you will be in the wave.

From: D Lewis <>
Date: Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 10:33 AM
Subject: MayDay

Rob, this is truly a great idea and what I've been thinking for some time.  There is no social, economic, environmental, or any other issue that can be seriously discussed in our government these days because there are almost no representatives whose concerns are the people of this country.  Additionally, it feels like many hot issues are really red herrings that we, the people, wouldn't actually spend a second thinking about (unlimited personal firepower?!) if they weren't being planted by big industries using billions of dollars as kind of PR tools to win elections.

As I said, I have been thinking about this problem for a while now.  Here's what I've determined.  We need a wave election.  There must be enough people elected at one time, in a wave, who can amass enough political capital to make the change in Congress.  In addition to merely winning votes in Congress, they first have to be able to offer resolutions and get Bills to the floor for votes.  They'll have to be able to overcome the likes of crooked Congressional Leaders and filibusters.  MayDay is the solution I've been thinking of, but:

How do we get enough candidates, all of whom probably have a history of taking a side (left or right, it doesn't matter) to get enough votes from both sides to beat well-funded incumbents?  I've been thinking the organizing body (MayDay, in this case) must run an equal number of candidates from both sides who a) denounce any previous political position (as I said, many positions we've seen taken in politics over recent history are red herrings, anyway); b) promise to address on a daily basis campaign finance / election reform exclusively; c) the wave should promise to abstain from voting on anything else while serving; and, d) promise to resign from Congress immediately upon completion of reform so that voters can then hold an election to populate Congress with their representatives to deliberate real issues.

All four of these points are extreme, but what we’re after is to unify voting groups who, in recent history, have not been able to agree if it’s night or day.  We know the only thing that might possibly meet in the middle is the recognition that our politicians are corrupt and not working for us.  I can’t see anything short of the four points above working.  What do you think?

Thanks for including me in your tweet and MayDay.  Donation coming.

David Lewis