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What We're Reading - Why Edition

This weeks What Were Reading: Why edition is a conglomeration of questions that the public ask of our elected officials; Are women property? Where does education belong? Why is Gitmo still open? Why do corporations pick on small business owners? These articles answer all of the above questions and show how important it is to pay close attention to what is happening across the country. Kaili Lambe, Campaign Manager Pick of the Week: This post is by my godparents, Gay and Katy Hendricks and connects a lot of what I learned in Womens Studies 101 with the current Republican War on Women. Women: Person or Property? By Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks If you ask a woman whether she would like to be treated as a person or as property, she would probably say "Person." If you ask a woman whether her uterus belongs to her or to the Republican Party, she will probably say "I own it." However, millions of women vote Republican in every big election, attempting to elect a party who wants to own their uteruses. In right-wing Virginia, the legislature and governor are conspiring to pass a law that will literally cause an unnecessary probe to be inserted into women's vaginas. If Republicans, who are so vocal about opposing big government, don't see the irony in causing government to snoop around in women's uteruses, they were apparently born without the irony gene. Julielyn Gibbons, Training Director Pick of the Week: If there ever was a time for campaign finance reform, this is it. One-Forth of All Super PAC Donations Last Month Came From Just Five People By Dashiell Bennett The limit on individual contributions can go directly to a candidate is S$2,500, but when giving to a super PAC the sky is the limit. And a handful of wealthy individuals have already crossed the $1 million threshold in giving. Monique Teal, Campaign Academy Organizer Pick of the Week: It's frustrating that we continue to fund the effects of floundering social programs and inadequate community support instead ofredirectingthat money to programs that we know will lessen prison populations such aseducation and mental health programs. We can do better. Obama Budget: Grow Prisons and Keep Gitmo By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella According to the Sentencing Project, only 1 in 10 federal prisoners is locked up for a violent offense of any kind. More than half are drug offendershardly surprising, since federal prosecutions for drug offenses more than doubled between 1984 and 2005. The 1980s also produced mandatory minimum sentences, which meant we were not only sending more people to prison, we were keeping them there far longera perfect formula for an exploding prison population. Ruby Reid, Online Training Organizer Pick of the Week: I have a personal interest in this current bill but I think the overall issue remains the same - while insurance companies continue to take our money their coverage gets worse. Theres a bill in the California legislature that can change that but right now in California outpatient chemo is considered part of the prescription allowance, which is usually pretty limited. For example, Kenyas plan covers up to $10,000 in prescriptions, but his at-home chemo costs $3,000 per month. You use up your $10,000 pretty fast at that rate. High-Deductible Health Insurance Pinches Workers From Both Sides By Jeffery Young High-deductible health insurance is becoming more common, according to survey data reported by the Employee Benefit Research Institute last December. In 2011, 27.7 million working-age people were enrolled in a health plan with a deductible of at least $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for families. The proportion of insured Americans who have this type of coverage has more than doubled since 2005, the report says. Linsey Pecikonis, Deputy Communications Director Pick of the Week: I watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night and of all the ridiculousness that was spewed by the four candidates I became outraged when Rick Santorum claimed the federal government should get out of the education business. Im a big proponent of a better education system and removing the federal government is not the way to get there. Santorum flunks the history of home-schooling By Andy Horowitz If Rick Santorum had been a better history student, he would know that presidentsspent the first two centuries of American history working tosupport theeducation system he now wishes they disliked. Take Thomas Jefferson, founder of theUniversity of Virginia and patron saint of todays small governmentconservatives: He consistently expounded the virtues ofpublic education. In his 1779Virginia Billfor the More General Diffusion ofKnowledge, Jefferson argued that without public schools,only the rich would beeducated, leaving poor but potentially productivecitizens unable to participate effectively in the democracy. It is better thatsuch should be sought for,Jefferson wrote, and educated at the commonexpense of all. Gabe Koss, Programmer Pick of the Week: A tale ongoing tale of David vs. Goliath happening right in our own backyard. A defiant dude: Chick-fil-A and their attack on Eat More Kale. By James Lantz and Bo Muller-Moore I might night win -- the odds are stacked against me. All over the country trademark bullies, large corporations that bully small businesses over alleged claims of trademark infringement are legally harassing small businesses and wearing them down with repeated lawsuits and appeals...This is more than just plain wrong, its un-American. Laura Caccioppoli, Political Department Intern Pick of the Week: This article highlights some concerns I have over the current administrations acceptance of drilling it seems that President Obamas energy policy consists of step one: drill, step two: drill and step three: drill some more, is just digging us into a larger environmental hole. In Nod to Rising Gas Prices, Obama Talks About Energy By Mark Landler Mr. Obamas remarks, tinged with humor and sarcasm, were bluntly political, on a trip that included fund-raising events in Miami and Orlando. But his message was sober: neither he nor anyone else can do much about oil prices, which he said were likely to keep rising.
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Corporate Money Unplugged

There is no question that a wealth gap that has not been seen since before the Great Depression currently exists in our country. Reid Cramer explains it nicely in Mother Jones recent estimates indicate that while the top 1 percent earn 21 percent of the nations income, they possess 36 percent of the total wealth. This is especially troubling because while income dictates how well youre doing today, it is access to wealth (the stock or resources) that creates opportunities down the line." In the end it seems as though the joke just might be on us those of us who still believe we can achieve the American Dream. For months local communities have stood up against the Citizens United decision trying to block its effect at whatever local level they can. For example, last week the U.S Supreme Court blocked Montanas Supreme Courts decision in December that upheld the states ban on corporate spending. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the decision out of Montana by a five member majority claiming, corporations independent spending in elections does not corrupt or even appear to corrupt the political process. This block opens the door for more challenges to Citizens United, which could cause another major uprising across the country - one where citizens directly challenge corporate influence in politics. Democracy for America is laying the groundwork for a grassroots surge to overturn Citizens United. So far, we collected over 100,000 signatures that support a resolution for a constitutional amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders that would overturn Citizens United and create the clear distinction that corporations are not people. All over the country, DFA members are fired up. In over 26 states, members activated their personal networks asking their friends and family to come and meet with their senators and ask them to support Senators Sanders because the corporate influence in Americans politics must end. In Washington, DFA memberLiz Campbell and ten petition signers delivered over 4,000 signatures to Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Murrays office asking them to support reversing the Citizens United decision. Senator Murray said, If Citizens United is allowed to stand, these Americans are going to be drowned out and beaten down by the onslaught of unlimited and anonymous money special interests can throw into races to support candidates who agree with them. In neighboring Oregon, DFA Member Christy Richardson met with Senator Merkleys office to share over 3000 petitions that Oregonians do not believe that corporations are people and Citizens United should be overturned. Senators Merkleys office later said, Every person should have a right to their say thats the beauty of the First Amendment. But corporations are not people, they are legal entities created by our laws to foster commerce. In California, the state that gathered over 19,000 signatures against Citizens United, DFA members Jim Pratt and Bill Nuttle delivered the signatures to Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. California has seen its fair share of corrupt politicians (does Richard Pombo ring a bell?) and the state's progressive communities remain committed to ending corporate influence inpolitics. Moving across the country to Texas, over 3,000 DFA members signed onto the petition supporting Sen. Sanders constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united. While members are just getting organized to deliver petitions you can bet your boots that Texans are tired of corporate influencing their politicians decisions. Jumping to Ohio -- Sen. Sharrod Brown faces a tough reelection due to the influence of corporate cash. Ohioans have joined forces and will deliver over 2000 petitions later in the week to Sen. Browns and Sen. Portmans offices. Sen. Brown believes that Citizens United is the wrong decision for America and has stated Corporations and foreign interests should not have a louder voice than everyday Americans when it comes to our elections, while Sen. Portman will most likely follow the influence of corporate cash like his GOP presidential hopefuls have. Across the country DFA members have stood with the 99 percent and said enough. The waterfall of money flooding politicians offices and their uncoordinated Super PACS needs to be corked and real members of democracy - citizens not corporations - should have influence over their representatives inside the beltway. If this years primary is any indication what our electoral process will look like until Citizens United is overturned, our democracy is in trouble. Never before have so few had such a major influence over the future of our country. Our politicians should not look at the size of our pocketbooks when voting on legislation and should end the influence of corporate money and wealthy funders. This movement is just beginning - and DFA members, members like you are leading the charge.
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Finish the job

A message from Nick Passanante: Wisconsin isthebattleground in the war on working families. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the right-wing state legislature have systematically attacked everything progressives have fought for -- they smashed unions, defunded Planned Parenthood, restricted voting rights and much, much more. What's worse -- they became the model for Republican governors and legislatures across the country. Last year, we launched a massive recall campaign and beat two right-wing State Senators in deep red districts.This year, we're going to finish the job. This summer's recall elections are our first chance to beat back the right-wing attacks on working families and send a message to Republicans everywhere -- attack the middle class and you lose. Wisconsin is our first chance to fight back in the war on working families -- Please contribute $4 right now to the DFA Wisconsin recall campaign. Republican Scott Walker and four of his right-wing State Senate cronies are on the ballot to be recalled and they're already raising big money for this summer's elections. We can win these races with a people-powered campaign. Last year, I spent over two months on the ground in Wisconsin, leading DFA's massive field program to knock on over 100,000 doors and make over 300,000 calls to voters across the state. I can tell you from experience that people-power is the only thing that can beat big corporate money like Scott Walker's -- it's the only thing that ever has. Right now, we only need one more seat to take back the State Senate from Scott Walker's right-wing cronies. A win here -- recalling Scott Walker and taking back the WI Senate -- would be a huge boost to Democrats going into November. The progressive base would have all the momentum going into November and we could use it to reelect President Obama, elect Elizabeth Warren to the Senate, and take back the House from John Boehner's Tea Party majority. Simply put, winning big in Wisconsin can help us win big in November.Please contribute $4 to DFA Wisconsin right now. Thank you for everything you do. -Nick Nick Passanante, Deputy Political Director Democracy for America
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What We're Reading: Things we LOVE edition

This weeks What Were Reading: Things we LOVE edition takes a different perspective on love by showing you the issues, organizations, and FCC regulations that DFA staff enjoy whole heartedly. Mia Moore, Chief of Staff Pick of the Week: My husband's uncle shared this great article on the history of Planned Parenthood and the battle for women's health rights and I've found it very helpful in understanding the context in which we are working right now. Plus, I'm a nerdy fan of all kinds of historical trivia, no matter how obscure so I'm gobbling this all up this week. Birthright By Jill Lepore Aside from its proximity to the site of the United States first birth-control clinicopened in Brooklyn in 1916the place is a typical Planned Parenthood clinic. Last year, seventeen thousand patients received medical care here. Two-thirds were insured by Medicaid, or paid reduced rates, or received free treatment. They were tested for S.T.I.s and U.T.I.s; they were prescribed birth-control pills and antibiotics; they were fitted for diaphragms and I.U.D.s and cervical caps; they learned how to check their breasts for lumps. They had pregnancy tests and Pap smears and abortions. Julielyn Gibbons, Training Director Pick of the Week: This is a great sign for us ladies in the world. We can be smart and find satisfying, long-lasting relationships! Watch out world - here we come! The M.R.S. and the Ph.D. By Stephanie Coontz Is this really the fate facing educated heterosexual women: either no marriage at all or a marriage with more housework and less sex? Nonsense. That may have been the case in the past, but no longer. For a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated. Monique Teal, Campaign Academy Organizer Pick of the Week: I think its really interesting how longstanding communities are using new technology to advance grassroots campaigns and one of our DFA members helped run the campaign! Breaking through a storied political culture By Dane Strother The race to head the Cherokee Nation isnt typically a contest favorable to the use of more traditional campaign techniquesnew media, direct mail and phones. So the question for our team upon deciding to take on the challenge of unseating a 12-year incumbent this past year was whether modern campaign tactics could work in a storied and somewhat closed political culture...The short answer is yes. But it meant breaking 30 years of tight control from an insular group, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and nine month of focus on a project undertaken on a whim. Levana Layendecker, Communications Director Pick of the Week: Im tracking some of the big fights happening this year - this seems like one of the largest. Whose Wisconsin recall is it? By Josh Eidelson Last winter, the three-week occupation of Wisconsins capitol brought into sharp relief what would become two of the years defining forces: Emboldened far-right state governments and emergent left populist movements. After Walker successfully pushed through his budget repair bill to cripple public workers collective bargaining rights, much of the energy of the capitol occupation shifted to efforts to recall the bills midwives in the Senate. Though they took place in Republican-leaning districts, last summers recall campaigns against six GOP senators were marked by fierce populism rather than cautious moderation. Emma Interlandi, Operations Manager Pick of the Week: Cable news channels have focused almost entirely on the religious and political aspects of contraception... how is this complete coverage? 300 Reasons Why Contraception Is Not Being Discussed As A Womens Health Issue By Zachary Pleat, Leslie Rosenberg, & Kevin Zieber While ovarian cancer remains hard to detect despite being one of the "deadliest of cancers that affect the female reproductive system," contraception use is correlated with reduced risk of the disease. The American Cancer Society has estimated that "30,000 cases of ovarian cancer worldwide could be prevented each year" through contraception use alone. Sam Stelfox, Tech Department Pick of the Week: This is great news! If you want to receive annoying robocalls from telemarketers you will have to opt in. Federal Communications Commission rules now require that telemarketers get your consent before dialing your number. Telemarketers will also have to obtain consent even if they had previously 'done business with' the consumer on the receiving end of a call." FCC Cracks Down on Robocalls By Maya Jackson Randall The rules require telemarketers to obtain written consent before placing so-called robocalls, and telemarketers will no longer be able to make robocalls simply because a person previously had done business with that telemarketer.
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Top Ten GRAS Winners

Largest Grassroots Contest in DFA History; 2nd Round of Voting Expected to be Very Competitive Burlington, VT Today, Democracy for America (DFA) announced the top ten winners of the first round of voting in the Grassroots All-Stars Contest. With 70,000 votes, this is the largest endorsement contest DFA has hosted to date. The winners of the first round will compete in a second round for the top prize. The top ten winners are: 1)Alan Grayson FL - 27 2)Ilya Sheyman IL - 10 3)Norman Solomon CA - 02 4)Jose Hernandez CA - 10 5)Mark Pocan WI - 02 6)Lois Frankel FL - 22 7)Angela Zimmann OH - 05 8)Kelda Roys WI - 02 9)Eric Griego NM - 01 10)Annie Kuster NH - 02 This is a critical year to win back the House and we are getting started on a great note with some real progressive champions who will be fighters and truth-tellers in Congress, said Jim Dean, Chair of DFA. With this Grassroots All Stars competition for House challengers, we will begin the largest campaign season in DFAs history. Grassroots All-Stars (www.grassrootsallstars.com) is an annual competition for House challengers and open seats. Candidates compete for online votes to demonstrate support among DFA members, and the candidate with the most votes wins. The winner of the 2012 Grassroots All-Star Competition will receive: - The title of "2012 DFA Grassroots All-Star" and DFA's endorsement - A commitment to raise $20,000 in small donations from our national membership. - A commitment to tap into our national membership to recruit volunteers over the course of your campaign and other support. (See www.grassrootsallstars.com/faq) Two runners-up also receive prizes. Past winners of the whole contest include Jerry McNerney, Charlie Brown, and Beth Krom. The voting for the second round will end at 11:59PM Pacific time, Tuesday, February 28th. The announcement of the winner will be made LIVE on telephone town hall event on Thursday March 1st. ### ABOUT DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA Democracy for America is a people-powered Democratic Political Action Committee. With over one million members nationwide, DFA is a grassroots powerhouse working to change our country and the Democratic Party from the bottom-up. www.DemocracyForAmerica.com Paid for by Democracy for America, www.democracyforamerica.com, and not authorized by any candidate.
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