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What We're Reading - Political Round-up Edition

Levana Layendecker, Communications Director Pick of the Week: I never thought that after the tireless work by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the day would come when the right to vote is in danger - again. Why and How You Should Fight Voter ID Laws By Martin Longman These polling place Photo ID restriction laws have proliferated like crazy since the 2010 midterm elections. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has many reports on the impact of changes in election law. According to onerecent report(pdf), new polling place Photo ID restriction laws will disenfranchise 3.2 million qualified voters. Even more restrictive "proof of citizenship" laws (for which a driver's license is insufficient) will disenfranchise another quarter of a million citizenswho can't provide the necessary proof(do you know where your Birth Certificate is?). Connor Stewart, Development Associate Pick of the Week: While the GOP was out crying foul over President Obamas recess appointments its interesting that we live in a age where his legal council has to defend his actions that previous presidents have taken. Justice Dept. Defends Obama Recess Appointments By Charlie Savage "Much of the criticism of Mr. Obamas move has been based on the theory that the Senate has been meeting even if only one lawmaker is briefly in the chamber every three days. If so, then it has broken up its long winter vacation into a sequence of short recesses." Julielyn Gibbons, Training Director Pick of the Week: This piece is a fascinating dissection at the crossroads of three of my favorite subjects: the societal role of technology, local and international politics, the growing global protest movement. This article is so thorough that even after reading the whole thing, you find yourself only hungrier for more #Riot: Self-Organized, Hyper-Networked Revolts - Coming to a City Near You By Bill Wasik The year 2011 brought waves of crowd unrest on a worldwide scale unseen for more than three decades. From Januarys revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia through a summer of sit-ins and demonstrations in Europe, India, and Israel to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the fall, the past year saw a new generation of activists rediscoverand subtly reinvent, through social mediathe massive street action as a means of political expression. Jase Roberts, Technology Director Pick of the Week: This was a top post on Reddit this week and thats a big deal.Reddit blacking itself out on January 18th in protest of SOPA sends an incredibly important message to the powers that be. Stopped they must be, on this all depends By the admins at Reddit Were as addicted to reddit as the rest of you. Many of you stand with us against PIPA/SOPA, but we know support for a blackout isnt unanimous. We're not taking this action lightly. We wouldnt do this if we didnt believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to reddit and the Internet as we know it. Blacking out reddit is a hard choice, but we feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community. Kaili Lamb, Political Campaign Manager Pick of the Week: With Ron Paul finishing in Second in New Hampshire it is important we take a second look at his freedom record.While 65 percent of New Hampshire voters support the freedom to marry, Ron Paul does not. Progressive voters in primary states take note. Ron Paul vs. Freedom (To Marry) By Dean Barker "I will stand with the people of Iowa, against Unconstitutional federal power grabs, and will fight to protect each states right not to be forced to recognize a same sex marriage against the will of its people. If I were a member of the Iowa legislature, I would do all I could to oppose any attempt by rogue judges to impose a new definition of marriage on the people of my state." Amanda McKay, Executive Assistant to Governor Dean Pick of the Week: While Huntsman had a decent finish in New Hampshire, its sad that hes being beat by a candidate who isnt even on the ballot in South Carolina.Plus, hes comedian Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert Leads Jon Huntsman in South Carolina Poll Posted on the Huffington Post "The new poll, released on Tuesday, shows five percent of primary voters in the Palmetto State picking Colbert, while four percent choose Huntsman...Even if Huntsman finishes second in New Hampshire tonight it doesn't speak well for his prospects down the line that he's running behind Stephen Colbert," Tom Jensen of PPP wrote on the polling organization's blog."
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How Big is Your Influence?

Its easy to see the dissatisfaction that Americans currently have with our government. Poll after poll shows Congress ratings in the single digits and President Obamas just over 50 percent. Even this fall, people clamored to the streets occupying parks and public spaces around the country demanding that their needs be listened to since they no longer felt direct contact with their elected officials generated any sort of result. But as we continue to see this dissatisfaction and tension with our government escalate to new highs, campaigns and Super-Pacs across the country are receiving millions upon millions of dollars in donations to help sway undecided voters and muddle the image of the opposition. How can the growing discontent with our government translate into such a super growth in campaign contributions by both candidates and Super-Pacs. Ive got two words for you Citizens United. In January of 2010 the Supreme Court handed down its decision for Citizens United v Federal Election Committee, stating that the first Amendment in the Constitution prohibits the government from placing restrictions and limits on independent contributions for political purposes for corporations and unions. This decision essentially unleashed corporations and untapped money into the political process. This week on the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Courts decision, we see plain as day the impact this decision has had on our political process. Just yesterday, TIME reported that Republican presidential candidates and outside groups have spent $38.7 million on political advertising since last fall. Thats 4 months. If you break down 38.7 million over 4 months, Republican candidates and outside groups have spent and average of 9.67 million per month. Already these same groups have spent over 9 million to influence voters for the upcoming South Carolina primary happening on January 21st. This election isnt the first time weve seen a influx of spending. During 2010s Congressional elections, which was the first federal election to occur after the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, spending by non-party committees (corporations and Super-Pacs) increased to approximately $304.7 million dollars or four times the level reported for the 2006 Congressional elections. And 2010 wasnt even a presidential election. This monetary influence and spending is astounding especially if you consider the outside economic conditions around the country. When everyday Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck decrying that the distribution of wealth be more evenly distributed, is allowing corporations to buy and influence politicians because of campaign contributions fair? Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakly put it best in a recent post: It means the influence and interests of the wealthy few will continue to further shout down the voices of everyone else. And because of the shadowy nature of these groups, it also means that a large portion of their advertising will take the form of negative attacks, which will only contribute to the increasingly hostile nature of our political discourse. A quick look at the 2010 census data clearly indicates that the distribution of wealth is a major problem for a majority of Americans who have coined themselves the 99 percent. The Washington Post reports that this gap is real - the share of overall U.S. wealth held by the top 10 percent of the population that increased from 49 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2009. Another alarming statistic from the census found that a record number of Americans nearly 1 in 2 have fallen into poverty or make earnings that typically classify them as low income. While all of this can be overwhelming and make any rational person scream out of frustration, we can win back our political process. If the growing number of angry protesters occupying public discourse on this income gap has taught us anything, it should prove that when citizens rally together demanding enough eventually the government must listen. Its time for us to begin to rally around overturning the Citizens United decision. Luckily, the movement has already begun. In cities and municipalities across the country citizens have encouraged their local governments to pass resolutions opposing the Supreme Courts decision. Just this week, New York City Council passed a resolution but these resolutions arent just in major progressive cities like New York and Los Angeles resolutions or ballot measures opposing the decision have been proposed or passed by 36 local governments. These governments include places like Duluth, MN, Oakland, CA, Albany, NY, and Boulder, CO. This isnt a fight that will be won by local governments alone. Weve got to take the movement and build strengthening the fight by bringing the voices of all Citizens on board. Back in December, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a constitutional amendment, The Saving American Democracy bill that would overturn Citizens United. Since Bernie wrote to DFA members on Tuesday weve had over 50 thousand supporters stand up and become a citizen co-signer to the bill. The movement will continue to grow but we need supporters from every state, every community to join on. This fight to overturn Citizens United will not be simple especially since, we the people, will be tackling giant corporations. Will you become a co-signer today and ask your friends to do the same? Together we can stop corporate influence in politics and bring back democracy to those that truly count the people of the United States.
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Saving American Democracy

A message from Senator Bernie Sanders: I know that many of you are deeply concerned about the economy, health care, education, global warming and the environment, Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties, war and peace and the national debt. But here's an issue that's even more important because it encompasses all of these issues -- and much more. Will the United States survive, in any significant way, as a democracy in which ordinary people can control their future? Or, will "democracy" simply become another commodity owned and controlled by billionaires and corporations in order to serve their own purposes? Today, as a result of the absurd Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money, without disclosure, in political campaigns. And that is exactly what they're doing. Karl Rove's American Crossroads has already pledged to spend at least $240 million in the elections of 2012. The extreme right-wing billionaire Koch brothers may be spending even more. And then there is Wall Street, the oil and coal corporations, the insurance and drug companies and the military-industrial-complex with all of their money. The goal of the top 1 percent is simple. They will spend as much as it takes to elect candidates who support a right-wing corporate agenda. They will spend as much as it takes to defeat those candidates who are fighting for working families. And that's about it! Please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United. Our strategy must be equally simple. Short-term, we must do everything we can to support those progressive candidates in 2012 who are fighting for the middle class and the values we believe in. Long-term, we must overturn Citizens United and fight for real campaign finance reform which limits the power of big money. Last month, I introduced a constitutional amendment, the Saving American Democracy bill, to overturn Citizens United. This amendment states that: Corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings. The people have the right to regulate corporations. Corporations are prohibited from making campaign contributions. Congress and states shall have the power to set reasonable limits on election spending. As we approach the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, please join me, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in pledging to fight to overturn Citizens United and to counter the unlimited resources of the right-wing in 2012. Your pledge of support today will show the Big Money interests that while they may have unlimited sums of money, we have something more important -- the power of the people. Your support could mean volunteering on local, state or national elections, organizing against Citizens United, donating to progressive candidates or running for office yourself. Please pledge your support today. Please stand with us so that, together, we can transform American politics. Sincerely, -Bernie Sen. Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator from Vermont
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They tried to pull our ad

A message from Nick Passanante: Big news - Republicans are freaking out about our ad in New Hampshire. They tried to have the ad pulled from this weekend's debates, but the stations airing the debates refused. The fact that Republicans are running scared shows the power of our ad. They know their plan to end Medicare is a loser and they don't want voters to know anything about it. That's why we're doubling down. We're going to make sure that ads like this one stay on the air in New Hampshire and in states across the country. Republicans want this ad off the air -- Please contribute $8 right now to keep it up. Everywhere Republicans go, we'll be there with the stories of real people struggling to get by. All Republicans want to talk about is making life easier for Wall Street, so we're going to force them to talk about the issues affecting working families, like Medicare. Please contribute now to make it happen. Thank you for everything you do. -Nick Nick Passanante, Deputy Political Director Democracy for America
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What We're Reading - Iowa Edition

Amanda McKay, Executive Assistant to Governor Howard Dean Pick of the Week: Many progressive watched the Iowa caucus turnout for an indication of how difficult the election will be for President Obama. This article clearly shows that enthusiasm is not on their side. The key will be whether it is on ours. The Iowa Caucus' Real Results: Hardly Anybody Voted, And Nobody Won Anything By Jason Linkins "The point is that you should take all talk of "winning" and "losing" with several grains of process. And more importantly, while Iowa's divine-right to being the first contest in the primary season is often criticized for having an outsized influence over the rest of the selection process, the truth is that the later primaries actually greatly influence who ultimately reaps Iowa's rewards -- which don't amount to very much." Levana Layendecker, Communications Director Pick of the Week: Romney can be seen as the ultimate career politician. Now that he seems to be the inevitable nominee its important that we look at his track record. When Romneys Reach Exceeds His Grasp By David Firestone If, over time, this turns out to be his rebuttal to the presidents new campaign theme of reducing economic inequality, he will have to do better than America the Beautiful, because that is not at all what the song was originally about. The lyrics were written in 1894 by the Massachusetts poet Katharine Lee Bates, an ardent feminist and lesbian who was deeply disillusioned by the greed and excess of the Gilded Age. When will media demand that Mitt Romney back up his claims about jobs? By Greg Sargent It is now beyond doubt that Mitt Romney will be resting his case against Obama on two core claimsThese claims are absolutely central to Romneys entire rationale for running for president. Is it too much to expect reporters and news outlets to scrutinize them or to ask him to substantiate them? Linsey Pecikonis, Deputy Communications Director Pick of the Week: Ive been oddly curious about the rise and eventual fall of Rick Santorum. As a longtime opponent to his political career, his newfound appeal to voters and hard fought win in Iowa is intriguing. Rickrolled: Three Lessons from Iowa By David Weigel "Lesson Two: Money is speech, which means people can ignore it. Michael Li was the first to calculate how much the candidates spent for every vote. Santorum spent $1.65 per vote. Rick Perry spent $817. Santorum spent it better, buying radio ads for months, then counting on a Super PAC to introduce him in the final weeks. Perry went into details about issues he thought voters cared -- those pesky gay soldiers! -- and Santorum kept it calm and generic." The Second Coming of Rick Santorum By Tim Murphy "The fundamentals of the race make Romney's nomination increasingly certain, but it will not be painless. No one I spoke with at the Storey Creek Inn seemed content to settle for a medal of participation just yet. Santorum's near-win isn't just a vote of no confidence for Romney; it's a reminder of the lingering power and radicalism of religious conservatives in the state. In 2012, a quarter of Iowa GOPers threw their support to a candidate who believes birth control should be banned, blacks should stop asking for handouts, gay sex is akin to bestiality, and Shariah law is an existential threat." Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America Pick of the Week: As Romney is looking more and more like the Republican nominee we wanted to take closer look at who Romney really is. The Newtification of Mitt Romney By Tim Murphy Even as his allied super-PAC spent $3.5 million hammering Newt Gingrich on the Iowa airwaves,Romney himself is channeling the former House speaker's bombast. Belying his reputation as a lily-livered moderate, he packs his speeches with red meat. In Council Bluffs on Sunday, he said that President Obama has no jobs plan(let me Google that for you), and that Obama will create a society that "substitutes envy for ambition." **And just in case you missed it click here to check out this phenomenal Moveon.org ad called Mitt Job Creator?
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