Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell--Don't Wait to Add Your Signature

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a national disgrace. It is codified bigotry and it needs to be repealed now.

President Obama and Democrats in Congress said they'd repeal this anti-gay policy before the end of the year and this is their last chance to do it.

The House has already passed a bill repealing "DADT," but -- as usual -- it's stuck in the Senate.

Last week, Gov. Howard Dean asked DFA members to sign our petition calling on Senators to repeal this horrible policy and tens of thousands of members from across the country responded.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to hold hearings on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this Thursday and Friday. Click here to  Join Gov. Howard Dean and thousands of Democracy for America members in calling on the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" right now.

Sign our petition today and we'll make sure that each and every signature we get is delivered to Senators on Thursday, right before the hearings begin.

Thank you for everything you do.

--Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Oil Drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea

A Message from CREDO Action:

In the wake of the largest environmental disaster in United States history, the Obama administration still wants to move forward with oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, where the consequences are potentially beyond imagination. 
The lessons of the BP oil spill and the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform are still being analyzed. Alaska's Chukchi Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, is a remote location with extreme weather and a delicate ecosystem.
The courts and scientists have all said that more information is needed about the Arctic environment before drilling should even be considered in ice-covered seas that are cloaked in darkness half of the year.
In June, a federal court in Alaska found that the Bush era drilling plan violated the law when it approved oil and gas leasing in Alaska's Chukchi Sea without sufficient information and analysis about risks to the Arctic environment.
The recent court decision and lack of information from the BP oil spill provide ample reason for Obama administration officials to take their time and make sure the environment is protected — before another fragile ecosystem is jeopardized.
In October, the BOEMRE issued a draft document (SEIS) that suggests moving forward with oil and gas drilling even though the risks are unknown. Submit an official public comment asking BOEMRE to stop any oil drilling plans.
Your voice matters.
Adam Quinn, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action

Friday, November 26, 2010

The "Lame Duck" Agenda

A Message from People for the American Way:

The results of the recent midterm elections have given us a small window to tackle several key priorities on Capitol Hill. Congress will reconvene for two to three weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete its "lame duck" session, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made promises to bring up the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the DREAM Act, a vote on middle-class tax cuts and several judicial nominees who have long been blocked by Republican obstruction. PFAW just yesterday released anedit memo explaining the urgency and critical importance of confirming both President Obama's judicial nominees and executive branch appointments.

Senator Reid's commitment to move these measures is commendable. There however remains one absolutely crucial piece of legislation for which we need to fight tooth-and-nail just so it can be considered for a vote: the DISCLOSE Act. We've just released "Citizens Blindsided: Secret Corporate Money in the 2010 Elections and America's New Shadow Democracy," the final version of our comprehensive report on the shadowy corporate front groups that dominated the airwaves this election with attack ads funded largely by undisclosed donors. The DISLCOSE Act, through stringent disclosure requirements, would help voters make more informed choices, slow the flow of money into these front groups and make some donors think twice about funding ads and tactics that cross the lines of decency. If you have not yet signed our emergency petition to pass the DISCLOSE Act, please do so now. We'll use this petition in our lobbying efforts pressing Senate Leadership and a few key Republicans to support passage of the bill immediately.

After the New Year, we will be up against what is perhaps the most radically right-wing Congress in history. A House majority dominated by Tea Party extremists, the Religious Right and unabashed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate-mongers, which has signaled the intention of crippling the government with endless obstruction and baseless McCarthyite witch hunts into the Obama administration... A Senate that, although maintaining a bare Democratic majority, has a new power broker in Radical Right Senator Jim DeMint, several new Tea Party-backed far-right Senators and a powerful Republican Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who has stated that his number-one priority over the next two years is to take down the President.

People For the American Way has spent decades exposing and countering the Radical Right. No other organization has our expertise and no other organization is better equipped to deal with the challenges of this new Congress and the growing right-wing movement. But there certainly will be challenges.

Americans, still suffering the effects of the economic crisis, will now have a House majority and more powerful Senate minority that will be doing all they can to make sure that the government works for large corporate special interests and not ordinary Americans. For their own political gain, Republicans will block policy measures that would offer Americans much-needed assistance, boost economic growth or create jobs... and they'll be fighting to roll back many of the protections for people which have been passed over the last century, while working to grow the deficit by extending massive tax cuts to corporations and the richest 2% of the country.

This is the reality of our situation, but it does not have to be so bleak. There are opportunities in the challenges ahead... a chance to draw a clear distinction between our values and view of government's role in society and theirs... a chance to expose the extremism which has taken full control of the Republican party... a chance to educate Americans about the importance of elections, the Supreme Court, defending the truth, fighting hate and defending the American Way. And we have the chance to start working now to make sure the progressive movement is strong, efficient, hungry and ready for 2012.

I'm so glad you'll be in it with us, and I thank you for it.

Michael B. Keegan signature
Michael B. Keegan, President

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving in Afghanistan

A Message from Democracy for America:

Right now, gay members of the United States military are silently serving our country in Afghanistan.

They will celebrate Thanksgiving together with the other men and women in their troop -- men and women who have become as close as family living together, working together, and depending on each other for every hour of every day.

They will celebrate together, but they won't be equal because gays who serve in our nation's military have to follow the rules of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It's a shameful policy that treats these American heroes as second class citizens and it's past time to repeal it.

This December is the Senate's last chance to pass a repeal before Republicans officially take control of the House of Representatives in January. Over 50,000 Americans have joined me in calling on Congress to allow all Americans to serve the country they love, regardless of who they love.

It’s up to us to make sure Senate Democrats and President Obama know we’re counting on them to deliver.

Please contribute now and deliver the resources we need to win

We will never back down in the fight for equality. It’s time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to move America forward.

-Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Founder, Democracy for America

Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. Please Contribute Today and support our mission.
Paid for by Democracy for America, and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Michael Moore's Wish List for Congressional Action


Dear Dems: Pass Some Laws Before the Republicans Head Into Town


Dear Congressional Democrats:
Welcome back to our nation’s capital for your one final session of the 111th Congress. Come January, the Republicans will take over the House while the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
But Dems—here’s something I don’t understand: Why do you look all sullen and depressed? Clearly you’re not aware of one very important fact: YOU ARE STILL COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, LEGALLY IN CHARGE! When (and if, mostly if) you wake up to the reality that you can do whatever you want for the next seven weeks, you will realize that you have two clear options:
1. You can continue your “Sit Quietly and Hope No One Hits Me” strategy and thus lay the groundwork for an even bigger ass-kicking two years from now;
2. You can actually use the power you hold for the next seven weeks and have the Senate pass the legislation that the House has already passed!
Wake up, Democrats! You are in an awesome position right now. The House of Representatives, in this current session of Congress, has already passed an astounding 420 bills since January of 2009 — 420 bills that are just sitting there on the Senate leader’s desk. The Senate has refused to take up these House bills because they’ve been afraid of a Republican filibuster. Well, Dems, here’s the truth: You can pass all of these bills and turn them into law RIGHT NOW, TODAY, by simply calling for a majority vote of 50 Senators (plus Vice President/President of the Senate Joe Biden).
Yes, you will need to change the filibuster rules. So do it. You have the votes! And yes, the Republicans will scream bloody murder — so let them! Make them. Let America see them in all their hateful, spiteful ways — it will act as a beautiful coming attraction trailer for all the world to see. Let all of America watch the Republicans as they try to derail democracy by holding up a bunch of bills that nearly every American I know would want to see as the law of the land.
Many of these bills are so safe, so innocuous, I have a hard time understanding what the heck the problem was in the first place. Like the bill that’s already passed the House to name a post office after Jimmy Stewart. I know, I know, the idea of a post office named after Jimmy Stewart is really, really, incredibly controversial and divisive and somebody on the other side of the aisle might yell at you. Be brave, Democrats!
There’s a whole slew of these bills the House has passed. Some are no-brainers; others are absolutely necessary. You can pass them in the next seven weeks. And because you Dems seem to have a problem with properly naming your bills and communicating effectively with the average American, I have helpfully renamed them for you so they sound like what they actually are — things people would really want. Here’s a partial list of the bills the House has already passed and are now just in need of approval by the U.S. Senate:
• The “Give Mom a Raise Act,” officially known as the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which addresses pay gaps between men and women. Now, who out there still believes women should be paid less than men? I REALLY want to see Republicans try to stop this one.
• The “Don’t Amputate Our Feet Act,” aka the “Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Access and Care Act of 2009.” Which Republican will stand to speak out in favor of diabetes?
• The “Pay Up, BP Act,” aka the “Audit the BP Fund Act,” which makes sure BP is paying people hurt by the Gulf oil spill as quickly as possible — and makes BP pay the cost of keeping track of where the money’s going.
• The “Stop Foreigners From Hitting Grandma Act,” aka the “Elder Abuse Victims Act.” This doesn’t really have anything to do with foreigners, but our fellow Americans seem to automatically dislike people from other countries, so this should help just in case the Republicans think an “elders abuse victims act” doesn’t sound patriotic enough.
• The “Let’s Try Not to Destroy Planet Earth Act” (aka Cap and Trade, a lousy half-way measure to begin with, but about the best you can expect from you Democrats these days).
• The “National Bombing Prevention Act” (it’s actually already called that, which is hard to improve on).
And while those of you in the Senate are taking care of all that, the House can come up with a better version of Michelle Obama’s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” to improve child nutrition. The Senate has already passed this bill. (The House should fix it so that it isn’t paid for by cutting food stamps to poor people. Yes, you, a Democratic Senate, did that.)
Then there are also things that neither the House or Senate has dealt with. These would take more work during the next two months, but that’s what highly-caffeinated “energy” drinks are for.
Jenni Suri of Ligonier, Indiana, has set up a petition with a good list, which anyone can sign here to tell the Congressional leadership to get started. Among the “to do” items on the list:
• Extend emergency unemployment benefits
• Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
• Pass the DREAM Act (to provide young immigrants with a path to citizenship)
• Pass the Disclose Act to force corporations to say what politicians they’re giving money to
• Pass the Employee Free Choice Act, so we can have unions again in the U.S.
• Pass Rep. Donna Edwards’ constitutional amendment that — in the wake of the Citizens United decision — would give Congress the power to regulate corporate spending on elections
So what do you say, Democrats? What’s the worst that could happen — you’d lose an election? You already did that! C’mon, here’s your one last gutsy chance to show us that you’re made of something other than wish and wash.
Michael Moore
P.S. Be sure to let the Democrats in Congress know right now you expect action from them during this next month. You can call your Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 or find their direct number and email at
This article originally appeared at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Deficit of Political Will

A message from Democracy for America:

We all know that the budget deficit is a huge long-term problem for the country and the sooner we deal with it, the better. But this idea that we are going to cut Social Security and Medicare while extending tax cuts to people making $1 million a year is a different kind of deficit.
It's a deficit of political will and it's morally bankrupt.

We can't afford these tax cuts and multimillionaires don't need them to survive -- but America's seniors do need Social Security and Medicare to survive. These programs keep millions of seniors out of poverty every year, giving them a means to pay their rent, buy food, and get at least the basic medical care they need.

We're fighting the right-wing assault on America's social safety net. Our campaign calls on Congress to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare and let the tax cuts for millionaires expire instead.

George Bush's tax cuts for the rich bankrupt the country. They destroyed record surpluses built by President Clinton and they failed to create a single new American job in the eight years that George Bush was in the White House.

That's right: Not. One. Job.

Republicans like to forget that when the rich paid these tax rates under Clinton, the American economy grew by 22 million jobs. Or maybe they do remember -- after all Republicans know that if Obama fails, Republicans win.

Democrats don't have to let that happen. Over 150,000 Americans have joined our campaign to protect Social Security and end the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy. If Democrats stand strong, our campaign will have their backs. We'll expose Republicans, run ads, release polling, and do all of it in-district to make sure every single voter knows exactly where they stand.

But we can't do it without your support.

Please contribute what you can to fuel the campaign now.

On Election Day, we commissioned SurveyUSA to poll voters -- the exact same Tea Party voters who put Republicans in control of the House next year. Guess what we learned?

Over 85% don't want to see ANY cuts to Social Security. That's right, even the base of the Republican Party wants Congress to keep their hands off.

We all want a balanced budget and an economy that will create jobs here in the United States -- everyone does. But extending tax cuts for the superrich isn't going to balance the budget or create jobs. It's just going to keep making matters worse. And cutting Social Security and Medicare will only push more people into poverty and literally throw Americans most in need -- no matter how old or sick they are -- out on the street. That's not a pathway out of this recession. It's playing politics with the lives of real Americans in their time of need.

We didn't support candidates this year just because they had a "D" next to their names. We supported candidates who were going to fight for the middle class, Social Security, and a fair tax system. Join us again today to help us finish that fight.

Stand up to the right-wing assault on Social Security -- Please contribute $10 today.

Thank you for working together with DFA to move America forward.

-Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paycheck Fairness Act Update

AAUW Condemns Today's Procedural Defeat of the Paycheck 
Fairness Act
Senate Misses Opportunity to Take a Bite Out of 
the Pay Gap

WASHINGTON -- The American Association of University Women 
(AAUW) sharply criticized today's procedural defeat of the Paycheck 
Fairness Act by a 58-41 vote in the U.S. Senate. The Senate's 
rejection of the bill comes despite widespread support of the 
legislation from the White House and ordinary Americans 
committed to basic fairness and equality.

"This was a missed opportunity to make history and jump start real 
economic change for American women and their families," said 
AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. "While the 
Senate's action is difficult to comprehend given the stark reality that 
most families depend on the paychecks of women, our effort to 
close the pay gap is far from over."

On average, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar men 
earn. By some estimates women could lose between $500,000 
and $1 million over a 40-year career. In higher-paying fields, such 
as law, the wage gap can result in even greater lifetime losses. 
AAUW's report Behind the Pay Gap controlled for factors known 
to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, 
and hours worked and found that college-educated women still 
earn less than men --- despite the same major and occupation 
as their male counterparts.

"What's especially frustrating is that this critical bill became a 
victim of arcane Senate rules," said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director 
of public policy and government relations. "This de facto filibuster
 of fair pay by Senate Republicans ensured that we never got to 
a debate on the bill's merits. Strategically, I can't blame them --- 
they can't win a fair fight against pay equity."

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182/S. 3772) would have 
updated the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes, 
strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination, and 
prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about 
employers' wage practices or disclose their own wages.

"If we had just a few more senators voting with the courage of 
their convictions, we'd be debating this bill rather than writing 
its epitaph for the 111th Congress," Maatz continued. "While we 
are deeply troubled by the vote, we know that we'll eventually win 
this fight. AAUW stands on a rich, century-old tradition of advocacy. 
Our members are not easily deterred and are deeply proud of our 
history of accomplishments. AAUW has played a leading role in 
some of the nation's most important public policy successes in 
the areas of family friendly workplaces, education, and pay equity."

AAUW is widely credited with keeping pay equity on the nation's 
radar. Behind the Pay Gap redefined the debate on pay equity 
and reenergized the drive to pass needed pay equity legislation. 
This leadership helped to set the stage for the adoption of the 
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in January 2009, the first bill signed 
into law by President Barack Obama.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) 
advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, 
education, philanthropy, and research. Since 1881, AAUW 
has been one of the nation's leading voices promoting education 
and equity for women and girls. AAUW has a nationwide network 
of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 
500 college/university institutional partners. Since AAUW's 
founding 129 years ago, members have examined and taken 
positions on the fundamental issues of the day --- educational, 
social, economic, and political. AAUW's commitment to 
educational equity is reflected in our public policy advocacy, 
community programs, leadership development, conventions and 
conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.

[i] Polling data released this year by the Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition, of which AAUW is 
a key leader, showed that 84 percent of voters supported fair pay in the workplace.
[ii] AAUW. (April 23, 2007). Behind the Pay Gap.
AAUW Breaking through Barriers

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deficit Commission's Proposed Cuts

A message from Democracy for America:

The co-chairs of the Deficit Commission declared war on Social Security.
And it's not just Social Security they're going after. They're declaring war on Medicare, the National Park Service and PBS, too.

Well, the Deficit Commission doesn't speak for me -- or the vast majority of Americans -- and Congress needs to know it. Join me today and sign our pledge to Congress rejecting the Deficit Commission's right-wing attacks on Social Security.

Add your name now

The Co-Chairs of the Commission released their proposal today. One member of the commission referred to the plan as "a good start". It's our job to make sure they know it's Dead on Arrival. Here's a quick sample of just some of what they're calling for:
  • Cut Social Security benefits
  • Raise the retirement age
  • Cut funding to the National Park Service
  • Cut funding to PBS 
When we say that the Deficit Commission doesn't speak for the vast majority of Americans, we have the numbers to back it up.

On Election Day, Democracy for America polled voters nationwide and when asked about Social Security only four percent supported making cuts to Social Security. Over half support eliminating the Social Security tax cap for income over $106,000 a year and 31 percent said they wouldn't change anything at all.

Let me say that again so Congress gets the message -- We polled the exact same people who voted to put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives and 85 percent of voters don't want any cuts to Social Security.
This might be the only thing that 85 percent of Americans can agree on. Help make sure Congress gets the message.

Call on Congress to reject the Deficit Commission's recommendations now.

When we asked DFA members what we needed to work on after the election, the answer was loud and clear -- Stand up for Social Security. And we are.

Join us today and tell Congress to reject the Deficit Commission.

-Arshad Hasan, Executive Director
Democracy for America

P.S. You can check the full results of our SurveyUSA 2010 Election Day poll here.

Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. PleaseContribute Today and support our mission.
Paid for by Democracy for America, and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pop Quiz

Pop quiz: Which of the following will make up a majority of the deficit in the next decade?

A) Social Security
B) Medicare
C) The National Park Service
E) George Bush's tax cuts

Give up? The answer is E -- George Bush's tax cuts.

But this week the co-chairs of the so-called "Deficit Commission" came out with their recommendations on how to fix the deficit. Do you know what their answer was? They said they wanted to cut A, B, C and D.

That's right -- the co-chairs of the Deficit Commission said that they wanted to cut Social Security, Medicare, the National Park Service, PBS and a whole lot more. But they're OK with leaving George Bush's tax cuts in place even though those tax cuts are projected to make up over half of the deficit over the next 10 years.

These guys are dead wrong and it's time Congress knew just how wrong they are -- sign the pledge calling on Congress to reject the Deficit Commission's right-wing attack on Social Security.

Add your name now

Not only are they dead wrong on how to fix the deficit, but they're probably the only two people in the country who think it's a good idea to cut Social Security.

On Election Day, Democracy for America polled voters nationwide on some key issues, and when asked about Social Security only four percent said they supported making cuts to Social Security.

The vast majority of Americans -- 85 percent -- said they don't want any cuts to Social Security. But they don't get a vote in the Deficit Commission, so let's make sure Congress hears what they have to say -- sign our pledge today.

Tell Congress to reject the Deficit Commission's right-wing attack on Social Security.

DFA members told us to stand strong for Social Security. And that's exactly what we're doing.

Thank you for working to move America forward.

-Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. PleaseContribute Today and support our mission.
Paid for by Democracy for America, and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pass the DISCLOSE Act

The window of opportunity for Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act is shrinking fast. 

On Monday, Congress convenes for a "lame duck" session to end the year… in January, the Tea Party-dominated Republican majority takes over in the House, comprised of many of the beneficiaries of this year's runaway, undisclosed corporate spending. 

PFAW is pulling out all the stops and will be putting as much pressure as we can on Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act in this short session, before time runs out and the new House majority is seated. 

Help build the centerpiece of our lobbying efforts. Sign our emergency petition to pass the DISCLOSE Act right now. 

Earlier this year, Republican senators voted in lockstep to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act, with a handful of GOP senators from more liberal states hanging their objections on various provisions of the bill. This time around, Democrats will be offering a stripped-down version which will simply require the wealthy interests that bankroll the attack ads and directly support candidates to come out of hiding and reveal themselves. 

As we saw in this past election, shadowy front groups with pleasant sounding names like "Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity," the "Coalition to Protect Seniors," and the "Center for Individual Freedom" are paying for endless ads on the public airwaves and not disclosing their donors. Voters have a right to know who is funding these messages. 

It's time to pull back the curtain from the corporate special interests like Big Oil and Big Insurance which are funding much of this activity and give Americans the information they deserve to make up their minds about issues and candidates. 

Join our emergency petition to pass the DISCLOSE Act now and ask others to do the same.

It's no wonder the Right wants to keep this information hidden from voters. We saw in the midterm elections that when voters know where the funding for campaign messages is coming from, they are more likely to see through misleading attacks and evaluate biased ads more reasonably. 

This is a major all-hands-on-deck campaign we are waging, but making sure you are on board by adding your name to our emergency petition is the first critical step. 

This is a fight we can win, but we don't have much time. Please sign now and spread the word. 

-- Diallo Brooks, Director of Field Mobilization

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paycheck Fairness Act: Write a Letter

Write a Letter to the Editor about the Paycheck Fairness Act

In less than two weeks, the Senate will vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Your senators will either pass an historic piece of fair pay legislation or they will fail to act to close the wage gap and protect the victims of gender-based pay discrimination.
You have a chance to influence your senators’ decisions and to ensure their votes represent you accurately, but time is short. We are asking you to write a letter to the editor to the major newspapers in your state in advance of this vote, urging your senators to vote for and support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Several key senators are still on the fence, and although calls and emails are important, you can increase your impact prior to the vote by using some of the language and information we provide to write a short letter.
AAUW has led the coalition fighting to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, and your contributions have brought us within sight of victory. Now, it is time to redouble our efforts for the next three weeks and pass this critical fair pay legislation.
Take Action!
To write a letter to the editor urging your Senator to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, just click on the “Take Action” link in the upper right corner or copy and paste the following URL into your Internet browser.  Then follow the instructions to send your letter to the editor.

AAUW’s Action Network makes it easy for advocates to influence Congress to act on issues critical for equity for women and girls. Help Action Network grow and be even more of a force in our nation’s capital. Urge your friends and family to join AAUW’s Action Network today.
The grassroots liaisons in AAUW's Leadership Corps program will be reaching out to AAUW branch leaders to provide mentoring and assistance. Whether you are a member of an AAUW branch (an officer or not) or a national member interested in becoming involved with other AAUW members, please fill out the online form here to indicate areas of branch programming or administration for which you would like assistance.
Washington Updatea weekly e-mail bulletin for AAUW members, offers an insider's view on the public policy process, the latest policy news, resources for advocates, programming ideas, and updates from the Public Policy and Government Relations Department. Subscribe today!
Read the 2009-2011 AAUW Public Policy Program.
Become part of the AAUW national community and break through barriers for women and girls.  Join now.
Strengthen AAUW's voice with policy-makers! Donate now.
Connect with AAUW online via our website and blog, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Brutal Election

What a truly brutal election. One rare exception was the crushing of Texas Oil's Proposition 23 in California (see CREDO's campaign at, which proves that even unlimited corporate cash can be beaten back — if it is disclosed and fought by grassroots mobilization.
At CREDO, we fight hard on the issues, but we don't take sides in partisan elections. As someone who cares about progressive issues, there is no doubt that Tuesday's results will make for even harder times for our country. It is crazy making to realize just how extreme and misinformed much of the new Congress will be.
There is little reason to expect any useful legislation from the Tea Party-dominated House or the dysfunctional Senate. Swing votes in the Senate have really troublesome names: Lieberman, Nelson, Manchin, and Pryor. In fact, this Congress will do damage to anything even remotely progressive.
So let's take a look at what happened and what we can do now. Bear with us as this is a bit longer than our usual missives. The media, unfortunately but not surprisingly, will be of no use in making sense of Tuesday's results, and even less so in helping chart a course for the future.
There is a lot of evidence that the state of the economy, and employment in particular, drive the results of elections — and this one was no exception. As the saying goes, "If you think the economy is working, ask someone who isn't." We have an economy stuck in a deep ditch, with corporate profits and bank bonuses soaring while long-term unemployment is at near Depression levels.
The Republicans shrunk the first "stimulus" package and filled it with tax breaks, even as corporate Democrats helped them along, blocking any effort to restructure mortgages in bankruptcies, freeze foreclosures or force banks to lend money. The election outcome was partially baked in early 2009, when the White House preemptively conceded on the scale and provisions of the stimulus package and chose to coddle the banks. To watch this unfold was simply maddening.
Making matters worse were other factors. Among the most damaging were the actions of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which seemed energized by the new President, and took the radical step of rehearing a campaign finance case — now known forever asCitizens United. In ruling 5-4 that corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money for and against candidates, the Court transformed the electoral landscape in a way potentially more profound than its 5-4 ruling that seated George W. Bush as president. As many predicted, the Citizens United ruling unleashed the greatest wave of corporate spending in history, though it's a safe bet to say that their spending in 2012 will make this year's outlay look modest.
In an astonishing turn of events, the right wing was able to kill — essentially murder in public view — the organization that registered millions of poor and working class African-American and Hispanic voters in the last six years. I am speaking of ACORN, of course. By editing video completely out of context, and using the right-wing media machine to perfection, Andrew Breitbart was able to convince the mainstream media and eventually Congress, that ACORN was an election-stealing organization that had no qualms giving advice to pimps on how to increase revenues. Fulfilling Karl Rove's wildest dreams, Congress, including most Democrats, voted to block public funding for any of ACORN's laudable and effective housing or tax assistance programs, and ACORN died a quiet death. There would be no millions of new registrants.
Traditions are important in the Senate, but almost always to the detriment of progressive change. The health care reform effort was a victim of Senate conventions. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the critical Senate Finance Committee solely due to his long tenure, stalled development of a health reform package for many months in order to "negotiate" with Republicans on his committee. They weren't interested in the least, and walked away from the discussions muttering bizarre comments about reforms "killing grandma" and setting up "death panels," because Sarah Palin says so. The behavior of Baucus would be laughable if it were not so utterly destructive.
No matter what one thought of FOX News in the 2008 election, Murdoch's monster went on a rampage over the past two years. Serving as both an instigator and an amplifier for the craziest and most offensive pundits, FOX News misled and misinformed the American people on every issue, and effectively became the public face of the Republican Party. Glenn Beck's show became so toxic and spewed so much venom that one of his devoted fans took it upon himself to plot the execution of key leaders of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, who had figured prominently in Beck's rants. Fortunately, the madman (the fan, not Beck) was stopped before he accomplished his mission.
We could go on, of course, on all the missed opportunities, the cave-ins, the sell outs, and the unpopular and misguided war in Afghanistan.
But the results are in. The House of Representatives is in the hands of the most corrupt Speaker-in-waiting ever, the Tea Party is ascendant, and the U.S. Senate, however dysfunctional it has been, is poised to be much worse.
For those of us who had hopes that the Obama Administration could seize the moment and enact popular progressive changes, this is a bitter pill. And like many, we grieve at the lost opportunities.
But now we need to brush off the dust, suck it up, and plunge back into substantive fights. Politics is not fair — indeed, U.S. elections are rigged in profound ways! But walking away is not an option at CREDO Action, and we hope you will join us in some of the actions below we think are strategic in the new political landscape:
1. Commit to Taking Down FOX News. So long as FOX News has any credibility within the Beltway, it will be a pipeline for malicious material that will poison our political culture. Join our friends at Color of Change:
2.Tell the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act during the lame duck session. We were able to defeat the Texas Oil Initiative, Prop 23 in California, in part because we knew who the enemy was — having disclosure of corporate contributions brings the enemy out in the open for us to take on and fight. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House and came within a single vote of passing the Senate. One vote. You can join this fight by taking action with Public Citizen
3. Keep fighting to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This issue will get resolved during the lame duck session. Take action
4. Sign up for the fight for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by declaring that corporations do not have the legal rights of humans. This may take years, if not decades, but we should start now. Please join Free Speech for
5. Tell the FCC to use its existing authority to establish and defend net neutrality. Our friends at Free Press are leading this charge:
6. Demand that the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service investigate the political organizations set up by Karl Rove to launder millions of dollars in secret cash to change the outcome of elections. Act now
7. Defend the EPA from castration by pro-coal interests in Congress. The EPA accomplished almost nothing during the Clinton years because the Gingrich-led Congress used the budget process to prohibit the agency from doing its work. This battle has already started. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign is a great way to join this fight:
8. Convince the Obama administration to stop appealing progressive court rulings on matters like the Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the state secrets defense against torture and wiretapping. Urge the Department of Justice to change its approach
9. Urge Democratic senators to do away with lifetime tenure for committee chairs and open up all chair positions to majority vote elections. This will go a long way towards more progressive legislation. Take action with us
10. Demand that the Department of Justice enforce the provisions of the national voter registration law that require state governments to offer to register all voters at departments of public welfare and motor vehicles. Many state governments simply ignore these requirements and this is a cheaper and more inclusive way of registering voters than the campaigns of the now dead ACORN. Urge Attorney General Eric Holder to expand voter registration:
I suspect you are angry and exhausted at this point. I know I am. But let us not forget that the values and ideals we fight for are greater than any one election. They still endure, and so must our fight. We have a lot of work to do.
Michael Kieschnick, CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Monday, November 1, 2010


Here is a message from AAUW and, below that, a link to a YouTube video that may motivate you to vote (as if you need any extra motivation at this point).

Election Day is almost here! You have been preparing for months to ensure that women’s voices and issues are heard on November 2; now is the time to make sure your vote is counted. Even if you have already taken advantage of early voting you can strengthen your impact by sharing this information and resources with friends and family members.
Be Prepared on Election Day
  • Know your polling place.  You can locate your local polling place online at
  • Find out which forms of ID your state requires by visiting the Election Protection website, and make sure to bring those forms of ID with you. 
Know Your Rights
If you are an eligible voter, you have the following rights:
  • If your name is not on the official voter list but you believe you are eligible to vote in that precinct, even if an election official challenges your vote, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot.
  • If you are in line when the polls close, you are entitled to vote, no matter how long it takes to get to the booth. 
  • In many states, employers must allow you time to vote at some point during the day. You can't be fired for being late due to long polling lines.  Check your personnel policies with your employer. 
  • You have the right to vote without being intimidated by anyone.
  • Visit the Election Protection website for more information on your rights.
Know the Issues
  • Find out where the candidates stand on issues important to women and girls.  The AAUW Action Fund’svoter guides will help voters make informed decisions on where candidates in the presidential race and in hot congressional races stand on AAUW issues
  • The AAUW Action Fund’s Congressional Voting Record for the 111th Congress gives our members and the public critical information about how all members of Congress voted on priority issues. 
Encourage Others to Vote
  • Make voting a social outing; bring your friends, family and neighbors with you to vote.
  • Wear your "I voted" sticker the rest of the day to show your coworkers that you voted, and encourage them to vote, too.
  • Forward this alert to your friends and family.
What if Something Goes Wrong?
First, document it. If there are specific individuals challenging your right to vote, intimidating voters, or interfering with the process, try to get their names. Write down exactly what happened, including the time of day, descriptions of the people involved, and any other details you can remember. A cell phone camera could be very useful in this process, if you have one.
Then, report it. There are many organizations that will be working to respond quickly to complaints of voter intimidation, suppression, and fraud. Here's who to call.
  • 1-866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has been set up by the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.  They have hundreds of lawyers standing by to immediately respond to problems at the polls. Call as soon as possible after you encounter problems. 
  • This year, the Election Protection coalition will also be using Twitter to monitor and respond to voting problems. Just tweet a short description to "@866ourvote" and include three hashtags: your zip code (ex. #04021), "EP + state abbreviation" (ex. if you're voting in Virginia, include #EPVA), and "#EP2010." Here's an example tweet: @866ourvote Long line est. wait of 2hrs. Some leaving after seeing the line #22205 precinct4 #EPVA #EP2010. More information can be found here.
  • Voters who believe they have been the victim of racial discrimination in voting should contact the U.S. Department of Justice at 1-800-253-3931 in addition to the 866-OUR-VOTE number.
For more information, visit AAUW’s Voter Education Campaign.  Together, we can ensure women's voices and issues are heard on Election Day. 

Watch "I'm a Tea Partier" video:!