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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Friday, October 26, 2012

Support Walmart Workers

Take Action!Walmart Stores Inc. — notorious for years for trampling the basic rights of American workers1 — has become the focus of a historic strike by its store workers.
In an unprecedented move, recently Walmart workers went on strike across the country,2 informing Walmart management that strikes will spread throughout November if Walmart doesn't listen to their demands.3
We need to show solidarity with the Walmart workers who are standing up to Rob Walton, Walmart chairman of the board and the rest of Walmart's management for a safe workplace and a decent standard of living.
Walmart's 2.1 million employees make it the largest private employer in the world, trailing only the U.S. Department of Defense and the Chinese People's Liberation Army in overall employment.4 Fully 1.4 million of them work at Walmart stores in the United States.5
And while Rob Walton raked in at least $420 million in Walmart dividends alone last year, because low pay and arbitrary schedulig force many of Walmart's workers to rely on public assistance to make ends meet.
In nearly all of the 23 states which have disclosed the information, Walmart has the largest number of employees on the public rolls of any employer. As reported by Mother Jones:
In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer's California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Wal-Mart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC-the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.6
Walmart always counters these facts by talking about low prices. But the profits of Walmart are enormous. The Walton family, which owns nearly half of Walmart, is as wealthy as the bottom 42 percent of American families combined.7 An average Walmart worker, who earns about $8.81 an hour, would need to work one year to earn as much money as the Walton family earns in Walmart dividends every three minutes.8
Too often, when the workers at Walmart stand up for their rights they are subjected to retaliation and intimidation.9 Walmart's appalling record of treating workers poorly also includes blatant disregard for their human rights, discrimination against women, and infliction of damage on small businesses and the environment.10
Walmart needs to know that we have those workers' backs on this. That is why we are joining our friends at Making Change at Walmart campaign to turn up the pressure on Walmart to end its exploitative employment practices.
Walmart has set the standard for driving wages down and maximizing profits. Forcing its executive to meet the workers at the negotiating table would be a major milestone. It would have reverberations throughout the retail world and be a victory for those who are fighting for higher wages and better working conditions for American workers.
Thank you for taking action.
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Pallavi Gogoi, "Walmart's Record on Human Rights," Bloomberg Businessweek, May 1, 2007.
2. Dave Jamieson, "Walmart Strikes Mark New Chapter In Labor's Fight With Mega-Retailer," HuffingtonPost.com, October 15, 2012.
3. Harry Bradford, "Walmart Black Friday Strike: Workers Threaten To 'Take Action' On Retailer's Busiest Day [UPDATE]," HuffingtonPost.com, October 11, 2012.
4. Mike Ivey, "Biz Beat: Walmart's low-wage reach runs deep," The Capital Times, July 10, 2012.
5. Henry Blodget, "Walmart Employs 1% Of America. Should It Be Forced To Pay Its Employees More?," BusinessInsider.com, September 20, 2010.
6. Sasha Abramsky, "America on $195 a Week," MotherJones.com, January/February 2009.
7. Josh Harkinson, "To Match Walton Heirs' Fortune, You'd Need to Work at Walmart for 7 Million Years," MotherJones.com, September 20, 2012.
8. Ibid.
9. Josh Eidelson, "Wal-Mart punishes its workers," Salon.com, July26, 2012.
10. Walmartat50.com.

Romney Ties to Voting Machine Company

Don't let the Republicans steal the 2012 election in Ohio with Romney owned voting machinesCould a voting machine company with deep financial ties to the Romney family help Republicans steal the presidential election in Ohio?
It could happen. If this year's presidential election comes down to the electoral votes in Ohio, the deciding votes could be cast on electronic voting machines manufactured by Hart Intercivic.
Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines. Click here to automatically sign the petition.A 2007 study conducted by Ohio's Secretary of State showed that Hart Intercivic's touch screen voting machines could be easily corrupted. The New York Times reported:
At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.1Hart Intercivic is majority owned by H.I.G. Capital which controls two of the five seats on the Hart Intercivic board. An investment fund with deep ties to the Romney family and the Mitt Romney for president campaign, H.I.G. Capital was founded by Tony Tamer, a major bundler for the Romney campaign, and it is one of the largest partners of Solamere Capital, an investment fund founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney's chief fundraiser from the 2008 presidential campaign.2 This makes the Romney family part owner of the voting machine company, through its interest in H.I.G. Capital.
Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines. Click here to automatically sign the petition.What's more, three other H.I.G. Capital directors are major fundraisers for the Romney campaign, and H.I.G. Capital is the 11th largest contributor to the Mitt Romney campaign.3 Two of the company's directors, Douglas Berman and Brian Schwartz, were even in attendance at the Boca Raton fundraiser4 where Romney infamously declared:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it... These are people who pay no income tax...[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.5And as if the ties between Tagg Romney's Solamere, Romney contributors at H.I.G. Capital, and Hart Intercivic weren't astonishing enough, two members of Hart Intercivic's 5-member board of directors made direct contributions to the Romney campaign. That's right. Directors of the company that makes touchscreen voting machines that could decide the presidential election in Ohio, have made contributions to the Mitt Romney for President campaign.
It is disturbing and dangerous that Hart Intercivic, the company that makes the machines that will count many of the votes in Ohio on election night has deep financial ties to family members of Mitt Romney. And that its leadership has been actively involved presidential campaign by donating and bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mitt Romney. The fact that these machines are easily corruptible touch screen voting machines makes matters even worse.
Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are locked in a tight election race which could very well be decided by Ohio's 18 electoral votes. We must take action now.http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6985911&p=romney_ohio&id=49405-2593817-s2DkOpx&t=10Thank you for all you do to protect the integrity of our Democracy.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets1. Bob Driehaus, "Ohio Elections Official Calls Machines Flawed," New York Times, December 15, 2007.
2. Rick Ungar, "Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern," Forbes, October 20, 2012.
3. "Mitt Romney (R) Top Contributors." Open Secrets, October 1, 2012.
4. Dave Gilson, Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?, Mother Jones, Sept. 18, 2012.
5. MoJo News Team, "Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video," Mother Jones, September 19, 2012.


Romney Endorses Mourdock

No on 6 Don't be fooled!Stand with us and demand that Governor Mitt Romney pull his television ad in Indiana endorsing Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.
It is intolerable that a presidential candidate would continue running such an ad in light of the Murdock's extreme position on rape. This is the only ad Romney has released endorsing a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and revealed Romney's ultra conservatism in such selection.
In case you have not heard, last night in the Indiana Senate debate Mourdock said, "I believe life begins at conception. The only exception […] to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen."
Does Mourdock mean that God intended for that rape to happen, and for it to result in a pregnancy? Is the next step not to prosecute the rapist, and to force her to marry the rapist? This is not so far-fetched and is happening in Afghanistan and Morocco.
Religious extremism threatens women's lives – in fact, threatens all of our lives, and religious freedom itself.
Governor Romney now says he would allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the woman. But Romney has also said he supports the Personhood Amendment that states that life begins as the moment of fertilization and would outlaw all abortion (it has no exceptions) and may outlaw the pill, the IUD, and some medical treatment for critical illnesses of the women. Now Romney has chosen to single out Mourdock for his only TV ad endorsement of a Senate candidate.
If women's lives count at all to Governor Romney, he must pull the ad. Religious extremism has no place in public decision-making that can cost women their lives and freedom.
For women's lives,
Ellie Smeal Signature
Eleanor Smeal
President
Feminist Majority

Clear Channel's Voter Suppression Scheme

Tell Clear Channel: Take Down These Billboards
It's one of the nastiest voter suppression schemes we've seen: this week, in African American and Latino neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin, an anonymous group started running outrageous billboards that try to scare people away from voting.1 The billboards are hosted by Clear Channel, a media conglomerate owned by Bain Capital — the same company that Mitt Romney co-founded.2In key battleground states nationwide, Republicans are hyping an irrational fear of "voter fraud" to provide cover while they work to disenfranchise eligible voters. The truth is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. More Americans are struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The real problem, the one that can affect the outcome of our elections if we're not vigilant, is voter suppression.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. There should be an extremely high standard to ask a media company to refuse to erect a billboard based on content. But we believe these anonymously funded billboards, which have no other purpose than to intimidate minority voters and take away their voting rights, meet that standard. And as Clear Channel has rejected billboard ads many times in the past,3 the company should have no problem rejecting these.
CREDO is joining with our allies at ColorOfChange to demand that Clear Channel immediately take down these misleading billboards erected on behalf of an anonymous client.
Join the members of ColorOfChange in demanding that Clear Channel take down these billboards. Click here and we will automatically sign your name to the following letter, which we'll send to Clear Channel on your behalf.Dear Clear Channel CEOs Bob Pittman and William Eccleshare,
I am writing to demand that you take down the billboards that have cropped up in African American and Latino neighborhoods in recent weeks and that employ tactics meant to scare people away from voting. While you may not have crafted the message, your company is in fact the messenger.
These billboards, which read "Voter Fraud is a Felony," are clearly designed to intimidate voters of color and keep those communities away from the polls. That these billboards did not appear in white or suburban neighborhoods is proof of their discriminatory nature.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. I ask that you remove these billboards at once. I know that in the past, you have rejected billboard ads. This campaign of misinformation fits that criteria and is a dangerous disservice to the African American and Latino communities in which they are placed.
Please remove these billboards immediately.
Sincerely,
[Your name]
Click here to automatically add your name to the letter to Clear Channel demanding that it immediately take down those billboards.Thank you for taking action.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets1. Similoluwa Ojurongbe, "Ohio voter fraud billboard accused of intimidating black voters," thegrio.com, October 5, 2012.
2. Richard Meyers, "Does Romney's Bain Capital Support Voter Suppression?," DailyKos.com, October 10, 2012.
3. Noah Pransky "St. Pete Pride gay-themed digital billboards rejected by Clear Channel Outdoor," WTSP.com, June 11, 2010, "Clear Channel Rejects Billboard Highlighting Heartland Institute's Corporate Funders: "You can't criticize a corporation"," Forecastthefacts.org, May 17, 2012, and "Clear Channel Rejects Times Square Peace Billboard Timed for RNC," Democracynow.org, July 14, 2004. 

Hold Halliburton Accountable

Take Action!What will it take for major corporations like Halliburton to stop treating our safety like it was just a speed bump along their way to obscene profits from fracking?

It will take levying major fines on the corporation when it makes reckless, unbelievable mistakes — like losing, for nearly a month, a radioactive rod used in the process of fracking wells in Texas, after it apparently just fell off a truck.1
That's right. Fell. Off. A. Truck.
Last week, Halliburton finally found the device — a 7-inch rod and "category three" source of radiation used in prospecting well locations for fracking — along a highway seven miles from the fracking site, after losing it on September 11.
This is of course far from Halliburton's biggest mishap. The company knowingly2 used faulty cement to seal the infamous Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, which likely contributed to the worst oil spill in American history — for which Halliburton has yet to pay any fines or spill costs, claiming its contract with BP indemnified it of any responsibility.
Not only is Halliburton's reckless behavior a danger to us — but the company is actively hostile to the rules needed to protect us. Halliburton and Dick Cheney worked in 2005 to exempt fracking from regulation under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, now known as the "Halliburton Loophole."
The only way to change Halliburton's hostility toward public safety and environmental protection is to make it extremely costly for the company to ignore.
Thank you for holding Halliburton accountable.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

National Popular Vote Bill

Only 9 swing states matter in this year's presidential election, and your state may not be one of them.  Let’s put all 50 stars back onto the flag. A voter in Idaho should matter as much as a voter in a swing state such as New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Florida.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. It makes everyone’s vote equally important. The National Popular Vote bill ensures that every voter, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.
Presidential campaigns ignore Idaho because electoral votes are currently awarded to the candidate who gets the most popular votes within each separate state. Candidates ignore states (like Idaho) where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. 
In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states. In 2008, Obama campaigned in only 14 states after being nominated. In 2012, the presidential campaigns have been concentrating on just 9 swing states for the past five months.
The states have the constitutional authority to change the method of awarding electoral votes and thereby establish a national popular vote for President.
The National Popular Vote bill has already been enacted into law by Vermont, Washington state, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii. In addition, the bill has passed at least one legislative house in an additional 12 states.
The National Popular Vote bill is endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, FairVote, Sierra Club, Brennan Center for Justice, NAACP, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, ACLU, the National Latino Congreso, Asian American Action Fund, DEMOS, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.
The bill has been endorsed by newspapers such as the Hartford Courant, New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Sacramento Bee, Daily Astorian, Kent County Times, The Columbian, Connecticut Post, Westport News, Fairfield Citizen News, Baxter Bulletin, Fayetteville Observer, and many more.
As the Sarasota Florida Herald Tribune said: "The most compelling and practical alternative is promoted by a bipartisan group called National Popular Vote. The NPV proposal calls for legislatures to pass bills committing their state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide; the bill would take effect only when enacted by states that together have enough electoral votes to elect a president."
So far, the National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes. This is about half of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring it into effect.
The current system has elected a second-place candidate in 4 of the nation’s 56 presidential elections. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The National Popular Vote bill fixes the  shortcomings of the current system of electing the President while preserving the Electoral College, preserving state control of elections, and leaving our Constitution unchanged.
Click here to "Like" NPV on Facebook:  
Thank you.
-Demand Progress and Idaho National Popular Vote


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Voter Registration Day

AAUW Action FundNow is the time to make a final push to register as many voters as possible! We’re down to the last weeks of voter registration in many states.
 
The AAUW Action Fund It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign has joined groups like the Bus Federation Civic Fund and the League of Women Voters to mobilize around National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 25. AAUW is going one step further and dedicating this whole week to voter registration. Here’s what you can do to celebrate AAUW’s National Voter Registration Week:
  • Have a “3x3” conversation with millennial women (ages 18-31) in your life: Our best chance to turn out women voters on November 6 is to do it “woman to woman,” through personal contacts. That’s why we’re all making the commitment to have “3x3”s: three conversations with three millennial women in our lives to ask them three questions:
    • Are you registered to vote?
    • Will you pledge to vote this year?
    • Will you call three millennial women in your life and ask them the same thing?
The millennial women you call could be anyone you know between the ages of 18 and 31: friends, family, friends of the family, neighbors, whomever! We’ve even drafted a sample script if you want something to guide the conversation. We can all make time for three phone calls, and that can make difference!
  • Bedazzle your Facebook with our new cover photos: Update your Facebook photo to sport one of our new It’s My Vote Facebook cover photos. These photos will remind your friends and fans to register – and to vote – every time they visit your page. Make sure you link back to theTumblr page in your Facebook photo description.
  • Tweet up a storm: To start, make sure you are following all three AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations accounts: It’s My VoteAAUW Action Fund, and AAUW Policy. We’ll be posting all sorts of content throughout the week, so retweet your favorites! Also, make sure to include the #itsmyvote hashtag in every tweet and include the #925NVRD hashtag if your tweet is specifically about the September 25th National Voter Registration Day.
  • Find a voter registration event near you: AAUW branches and our coalition partners are hosting voter registration drives all over the place, from college campuses to libraries to local grocery stores It’s not too late to get involved – find an event near you today!
  • Show your AAUW spirit with the latest It’s My Vote fashions: We’ve got It’s My Vote pins, stickers, and temporary tattoos – wear one, two, or all three this week to show your AAUW spirit! Email VoterEd@aauw.org to request more of these materials if you’re running out.
We’re in the home stretch of voter registration, so let’s finish strong – then we’ll ride the wave of our efforts into the next phase of contacting these new voters and getting them to the polls on Election Day. We will vote, and we will be heard!

Lisa Maatz
AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations
 

Ban Conversion Therapy

Ban conversion therapy for gay kidsThe damaging and dangerous practice called "conversion therapy" might soon be at an end in California — the most populous state in the U.S. — if Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill that the state Legislature has already passed.

On Saturday, Brown signed dozens of bills into law1 — but he hasn't yet signed the ban on conversion therapy for minors. We only have until September 30 to ensure this bill becomes law.
So-called conversion therapy is based upon the disproven theory that homosexuality is a form of mental illness and that through therapy, sexual orientation can be changed. Thousands of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth have been subjected to the humiliating measures of this practice over the past 100 years, including electric shocks and nausea-inducing medication paired with homosexual imagery.2 In many other cases, youth have been forced to undergo shame-filled therapy sessions with counselors and groups of their peers.
California has been a leader in legislation protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. Now the state has the opportunity to put an end to a draconian and homophobic practice that has no place in modern medicine, and set a precedent that should be followed nationwide.
All three of the major mental health organizations in the United States — the American Counseling Association,3 American Psychological Association,4 American Psychiatric Association5 — have denounced this practice. Hundreds of other medical organizations in the United States and abroad have done the same. It doesn't work, and more often than not it causes serious psychological distress.
Passing the bill costs California nothing, and will set a national precedent that will open the door to other state government bans of the practice. But more important, it will protect children and teens from the harmful and guilt-filled process that tears apart families and causes long-lasting damage that sometimes ends in suicide.6
Tell California's Gov. Jerry Brown to be a national leader in the fight to protect gay and lesbian youth and sign the ban on conversion therapy for minors. Click below to automatically sign the petition.
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6966705&p=conversion_therapy&id=47531-2593817-iudDfHx&t=9
Thank you for standing up to protect young gays and lesbians from abuse.
Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. "Archives for September 2012." Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, accessed 09-23-2012.
2. Dr. Gregory Herek, "Attempts To Change Sexual Orientation." Sexual Orientation: Science, Education, and Policy, accessed 09-20-2012.
3. Joy S. Whitman, Harriet L. Glosoff, Michael M. Kocet and Vilia Tarvydas, "Ethical issues related to conversion or reparative therapy." American Counseling Association, 05-22-06.
4. "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts." American Psychological Association.
5. "Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies)." American Psychiatric Association, 05-00.
6. Kelvin Lynch, "APA: Gay conversion therapy can cause depression and suicide attempts." Examiner, 08-05-09. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Messages from the 47% to Romney


We asked MoveOn members to respond to Mitt Romney's insulting comments about 47% of Americans—and we got some videos that blew us away. An awesome great-grandma named DeEtte sent us one that would knock Romney's socks off. 
But don't take it from us—watch it and rate it, along with other compelling videos from MoveOn members. And then share them with everyone! Romney's 47% insults are really hurting him with independent voters, so we need to share these powerful responses as widely as possible.1 
Awesome great-grandma gives Romney a piece of her mind
Romney said that the 47% of Americans who will vote for President Obama are "dependent" on government, think of themselves as "victims," and will never "take personal responsibility for their lives."1 He was talking about you, me, and millions of other Americans, including DeEtte. 
But just like you and me, DeEtte and the other MoveOn members who shared their stories with us are not victims—we're voters. Watch their videos, starting with DeEtte's—then rate them and share with everyone! 
Thanks for all you do.
–Justin, Victoria, Ryan, Emily, and the rest of the team 
P.S. I want to give a special thanks to all of the MoveOn members who had the courage to share their moving stories! 
Sources: 
1. "Poll: Mitt Romney '47 percent' remarks hurt independent support," Politico, September 19, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=281457&id=52736-18623853-5zeBhtx&t=4
2. "SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters," Mother Jones, September 17, 2012 
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=280924&id=52736-18623853-5zeBhtx&t=6

Overturn Citizens United



So far this cycle, my race in Ohio has been the #1 Senate target for far-right special interest groups, which have spent more than $17 million against me with more coming.

It's an unprecedented amount of spending, and we all know why it's happening this year -- the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United has unleashed a torrent of special interest cash, and brought the corruptive influence of corporate money down on our democracy.

That's why I've teamed up with the DSCC and Democrats across the country to overturn the effects of this decision by building momentum to pass a constitutional amendment.

471,685 of you have joined the fight to end Citizens United by signing our petition. But we need to keep that momentum going strong. And since we're only about 7 weeks away from Election Day, I want to add 7,000 more signers to our effort right now.

Click here to sign the petition, and show your support for overturning Citizens United and getting corporate money out of our elections.

The process of passing a constitutional amendment is painstakingly slow, and requires that we continue to apply strong pressure.

With your help, I know we can get this done. Thank you for joining Senate Democrats and me in the fight to overturn Citizens United.


What's Your 47% Story?

A invitation from MoveOn.org: 
Mitt Romney's closed door fundraiser comments show what he really thinks about half of Americans: they're moochers and deadbeats.Romney said that the 47 percent of Americans who will vote for Obama are "dependent" on government, think of themselves as "victims," and will never "take personal responsibility for their lives." He was talking about you, me, and millions of other Americans.1

He's talking about seniors on Medicare, who spent their entire adult lives paying taxes. He's talking about military families, who give everything for our country. And he's talking about college students, working to create future careers.

We need to show Romney what happens when you write off half the country. So, we're asking you to make your own video response to Romney, with your own story—How you're not a "victim," you're a voter.

We'll turn the best video into a TV ad for critical swing states, and we'll share some of the most moving stories on social media with more than 400,000 Facebook fans and almost 75,000 Twitter followers. But we need to jump into this moment right away, so we'll only be accepting submissions until midnight Pacific Standard Time tonight!

Click here to find out how to share your story!

Mitt Romney risks alienating more than 47% of voters with his comments. That's seniors, students, and soldiers he's talking about—responsible Americans who have contributed to society. And guess what? He doesn't think he should even have to "worry about those people."2

Let Mitt Romney know that you're not a victim, you're a voter. Just tell your story, then upload your 26-second video and send us the link. Click here for instructions.

You can also help a friend, family member, or neighbor tell their story, by helping to record and upload their video.

Don't forget: we'll only be accepting submissions until midnight PST tonight. And your story just might end up on national TV or spread virally on social media!

Thanks for all you do.

–Justin, Stephen, Stefanie, Ryan, and the rest of the MoveOn team

Sources:

1. "SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters,"Mother Jones, September 17, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=280924&id=52173-18623853-g6qi8Wx&t=4

2. Ibid.

Free Obama Car Magnet

Don't Let Republicans Steal the Election

Don't let them steal the election.Ohio has emerged as the latest front in the Republican scheme to derail democracy by disenfranchising millions of eligible voters. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, in a blatant partisan move to steal the election for Mitt Romney, is trying to put an end to early weekend voting before Election Day. This change in Ohio election practices specifically impacts minority and low income voters.2

It's not just Ohio. It's also Florida and Pennsylvania. (On a rare positive note, facing pressure from CREDO Action members and others, Republicans have backed off from their voter purging efforts in Colorado.1)
Earlier this summer, CREDO Action members signed over 87,000 petitions and made over 1,600 phone calls urging Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold Congressional hearings on brazen Republican efforts to steal the 2012 presidential election in other key battle ground states like Florida and Pennsylvania. With Republicans showing no sign of slowing down their tenacious efforts to steal the election, we're escalating our call for Senator Leahy to hold hearings to investigate the GOP effort to suppress the votes of millions of voters in key battleground states across the country.
A prominent Ohio Republican state official has already openly admitted that Husted's efforts to shut down weekend voting would result in African Americans voters having a more difficult time voting.3 A federal district judge struck down Husted's effort to restrict early voting during the three days before the election, and after initially resisting that court order Husted backed down for the time being, pending appeal in higher court.4
But the crisis is not over. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that will be reviewing the district court decision to strike down Husted's efforts to restrict early voting is "a Republican-leaning court with a history of partisan decisions benefiting the Republican Party."5
The situation in Ohio is crucial given its recent history in Presidential elections. In 2004 hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters were disenfranchised on Election Day due to massive lines and "widespread electoral dysfunction."6 As Ari Berman reported in the Nation:
According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of the interminable wait. (Bush won the state by only 118,000 votes).7
In response to the mess on Election Day in 2004, Ohio reformed its electoral process by adding early voting before Election Day, leading to a "much smoother experience" in 2008.8 The opportunity to vote early led to record turnout for African American and low income voters.
Now the Republicans in Ohio are working to disenfranchise thousands of those voters in racially diverse urban centers such as Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. The restriction on weekend voting is specifically aimed at disrupting minority voters — for example, African-American churches historically rally their congregants to the voting booth on the Sunday before the election.9
The Republican elections officials in Ohio, along with their counterparts in Florida and Pennsylvania, should be trying to help more eligible voters participate in the democratic process, not disenfranchise minorities and the poor.
Senator Leahy needs to get the message from as many Americans as possible that it's not okay for Republican elections officials in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — or any other state — to engage in systematic effort to disenfranchise U.S. citizens for the explicit purpose of swinging the election to Republican Mitt Romney in November.
Let's keep the pressure on Senator Leahy to hold a public hearing on the GOP war on voting today.
Thank you for standing up for the right to vote.
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Aviva Shen, "Colorado Secretary of State Gives Up On Voter Purge," ThinkProgress.com, September 11, 2012.
2. Aviva Shen and Adam Peck, "Ohio Limits Early Voting Hours In Democratic Counties, Expands In Republican Counties," ThinkProgess.com, August 10, 2012.
3. Aviva Shen, "Ohio GOP Election Board Member: Our Voting Process Shouldn't Accommodate Black Voters," ThinkProgress.com, August 19, 2012.
4. Ryan J. Reilly, "Ohio Secretary Of State Backs Down On Early Voting,"TalkingPointsMemo.com, September 7, 2012.
5. Ian Millhiser, "BREAKING: Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio Law Restricting Early Voting," ThinkProgress.com, August 31, 2012.
6. Ari Berman, Ohio Early Voting Cutbacks Disenfranchise Minority Voters," The Nation, August 8, 2012.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Gene Demby, "Black Pastors Group Criticizes Ohio For New Rules That Limit Early Voting," HuffingtonPost.com, August 14, 2012.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why Lies Stick Better Than Truth

Why Lies Often Stick Better Than Truth
From The Chronicle of Higher Education,
September 20, 2012, 5:08 pm
By Josh Fischman
There is no good reason to believe vaccines cause autism. A 1998 paper in The Lancet that championed the link was immediately pilloried and later withdrawn as fraudulent. Its author, the British physician Andrew J. Wakefield, was found guilty of dishonesty and abuse of developmentally disabled children by the British General Medical Council. He has been stripped of his medical license. No other researcher has been able to replicate his work, and journals have retracted his other papers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Academy of Sciences, and many other groups found no evidence of a link.

Yet surveys in 2002 found that as much as 53 percent of the public believed there was good evidence on both sides, as did a good number of health professionals. Politicians also bought in. In 2008 the presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines … The science right now is inconclusive.” His rival, John McCain, said that “there’s strong evidence that indicates it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.” And in 2011 Web sites were still reporting that vaccine injury cases showed evidence of autism.

There are also many people who, even after seeing President Obama’s birth certificate, believe he was not born in the United States. And many doubt there is global warming, despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that things are heating up. Why do we like our slanted information and outright lies so much?

Because rejecting them is hard work, say psychologists in a new article in Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Making a cognitive shift means rethinking already-held beliefs. It’s much easier to slot evidence into ideas we already hold, says Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Australia and an author of the report.

That’s not a new discovery. More interesting, however, are the strategies the psychologists recommend for breaking through the fog of disbelief. You need to find an alternate explanation that fits the same basic facts, says another report author, Colleen M. Seifert, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Misinformation persists when “you don’t have an alternative account that works as well as does the wrong one,” she explains by e-mail.

She examined reaction to a report of food poisoning. “This is a true example,” she writes. ”Suppose you hear of a family of four who died after eating at Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant. The authorities investigate, and release the information that food poisoning was not the cause. Do you go out for Chinese tonight?

“You know it is not true,” she continues, “but it’s such a good explanation for what happened that you fall back on it even while knowing it is in error. So you say, ‘It was not food poisoning, but let’s have Italian tonight.’”

In her studies, the only way to get people to let go of such an idea was to give them a plausible alternative. So in fact, “the family was found to have suffered carbon-monoxide poisoning,” she notes. “Now I have an account that is wholly satisfactory and explains the circumstances, and now I am happy to eat at Golden Gate.”

One of the worst ways to offer alternatives, though, is to repeat the bad information while doing so. “There is a risk that repeating an association can make it stronger in memory,” says Ullrich K.H. Ecker, another author, in an e-mail. “Saying that ‘it’s incorrect that the flu vaccine has major side effects’ repeats and hence potentially strengthens the link between ‘vaccine’ and ‘side effects’ even though it negates it,” notes Ecker, an assistant professor of psychology at Western Australia. His research and that of others has demonstrated this. Much smarter, he says, is to stick to the alternative, talking about the safety of the vaccine.

Seifert adds that the backfire effect is very common. “In later studies, we tried overemphasizing the fact that the information is wrong,” she writes. She tried saying to her skeptical Chinese-restaurant patrons that “‘it was definitely not food poisoning.’ But that made people more suspicious of the truth of the information, and didn’t make them any less likely to use it.”

Lewandowsky and another co-author, a researcher at the University of Queensland named John Cook, have collected those strategies and cautions in a publication for academics and science communicators called The Debunking Handbook.

None of this is easy, cautions Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. If it were, misinformation would diminish and facts would win in the marketplace of ideas. But, he wrote in a commentary in the same issue of the journal, the report from Lewandowsky and his colleagues does a great service by showing why some distortions are so “sticky” in our minds.

[Photo credit: Elmer Martinez, AFP, Getty Images]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Truth Team on Romney

Truth Team
Yesterday, a leaked video from a closed-door fundraiser showed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney telling a room full of big-money donors that Americans who don't support him think they're "victims" who don't "take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

So rarely over the course of this campaign have we gotten to hear Mitt Romney say what he believes in such a revealing, unfiltered manner. This is one of those moments. It's important that we make sure that the people in our lives who are just tuning into this election know what disdain and contempt Romney has for half of the citizens of this nation he wants to lead. Take a look at the items in this tipsheet, and then share them with others.

#1 What Americans think of Romney's comments
The secret video shows that Romney believes nearly half of all Americans won't take responsibility for their own lives and don't pay taxes. Watch this video of Americans listening and reacting to Romney's shocking comments, and make sure others do too:

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#2 Who Romney is writing off?
It's worth taking a second to look at some of the people who make up the nearly half of the country that Romney has so much disdain for. Who exactly are these people that Romney rips for not paying income taxes? The overwhelming majority are seniors, students, people with disabilities, or working families. They pay payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and more. Those working families include U.S. soldiers in combat, receptionists, firefighters, and clergy, just to name a few. Certainly, those folks aren't short on personal responsibility. Read this blog post highlighting some of the Americans that Romney has written off, and share it with others:
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#3 Romney's responsibility map
Romney has said that "my job is not to worry about" the people who don't support him. But America needs a president who will stand up for all Americans, not just the half of the country who agrees with him. Take a look at this graphic about Romney's idea of "responsibility" and post it to your Facebook wall.

Thanks,

Stephanie

Stephanie Cutter
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. -- Another way to fight back against Romney and his divisive politics is to chip in and help fund our grassroots campaign. Romney has big-money donors at closed-door fundraisers, President Obama has you. Chip in $338 or more today.