Activism Made Easier: Move Grassroots Information Out Of Meeting Rooms & Into The Public Sphere

grassroots

the most basic level of an activity or organization.
“the whole campaign would be conducted at the grass roots”
Synonyms: popular, of-the-people, bottom-up, nonhierarchical, rank-and file
“a grassroots movement”

ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership
“you have lost touch with the grass roots of the party”

I received a postcard inviting me to a three hour meeting on a week day night for grassroots action on a county wide issue. A neighbor and I attended for an hour. That first hour was a series of short talks by several people. Presenting the information only at a three hour meeting on a single night eliminated whole groups of possible participants:

Single parents

Second shift workers

People with standing commitments for that night

Does limiting the number of people who can participate make grassroots actions more effective or less effective? In the age of the Internet, anyone who wants to take effective grassroots action needs to do the following:

Make grassroots information easily available.

Make grassroots participation easy.

Make grassroots action a matter of personal choice.

I came right home from the meeting and wrote up the suggestions below.

Some planning is necessary, of course. In 2012, nonviolent strategy icon Srdja Popovic identified three strategies the Occupy movement had to get exactly right:

Clear vision of tomorrow

Clear plan for pursuing that vision

Clear understanding that whatever happens in New York
or Boston or Denver is connected to a larger global
movement that stretches from the alleyways of Cairo to
the beaches of the Maldives

We now know that Occupy did not follow Popovic’s strategies.

Srdja Popovic created nonviolent strategies to bring down Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic resigned in 2000, then died in prison during his trial for war crimes.

Popovic’s strategies were so effective that people from around the world came to him for advice. He set up a website (canvasopedia.org) and a university course. See the PDF files below for the information he makes free to anyone, including the textbook for the university course.

Popovic has stated that when it comes to ending oppression, fun can overcome fear. Keep that in mind as you read through my suggestions and plan grassroots actions.

Use the idea of fun as an effective strategy for all kinds of change. A neighborhood in Detroit thought up a way to have fun and get the city to pay attention.

Activism Made Easier

Set up a website for one particular community issue with a mailing list option.

Create one page for each topic with a comments section.

Each page has one topic paper with links to more resources, written by a presenter. The topic presenter becomes responsible for responding to comments and keeping this one page up to date.

Each topic paper lists only the high points first, followed by a detailed explanation for each high point. Some people want only high points, other people want all the details. More high point people would participate if you satisfy their need for mostly high points. Too many details frustrate them. I know, because I’m a high point person.

Participants could include links to more information in the comments section, ask questions, and read responses from topic presenters.

Publicize the website on social media. Announce the date and time for a 90 minute meeting. Say the meeting is a project meeting that requires participants to have read the topic papers.

For county or city wide issues, hold meetings in different parts of the county or city.

In each meeting room, have tables set up for each topic, identified by standing signs.

Have name tags and pens at each table.

Upon arriving, every member sits at the topic table that interests them. Shift chairs around if necessary because participants will be most effective working on the topics that matter most to them.

Use the first 10 to 15 minutes for topic presenters to provide last minute updates, then set the groups to work.

Each topic participant can speak only 2 minutes at a time. Everyone gets at least one turn to speak. No one speaks a second time until everyone has spoken once. No one speaks a third time unless people decline their second chance to speak.

Each topic group should discuss:

Ideas for individual and/or group action, including fun actions

Methods for measuring the effectiveness of each action

Topics for further discussion

The last 15 minutes could include one sentence statements about actions each member of each topic group will take.

One participant from each topic group then posts the ideas for action, methods for measurement, and topics for further discussion in the comments section for the topic paper.

People who can’t attend meetings will have all the same information as well as ideas for action to choose from, including fun actions. They can participate through the comments section. Use the mailing list to make announcements.

Srdja Popovic

“The Revolutionist”
Liel Leibovitz
The Atlantic
March 2012, 21-22

Some controversy exists over Popovic’s actions after Wikileaks revelations. He is in Wikileaks because his strategies are effective. Just use them ethically.

“2000: Milosevic quits, street celebrations continue”
On This Day: October 6
BBC

“Wikileaks Docs Expose Framed Serbian Activist’s Ties to ‘Shadow CIA'”
Carl Gibson and Steve Horn
In These Times
December 2, 2013

“Without a path from protest to power, the Women’s March will end up like Occupy”
Micah White
The Guardian

January 19, 2017

PDF Files

Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points

CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide To Effective Nonviolent Struggle
(Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies)

Making Oppression Backfire

Detroit Neighborhood

“Sinkhole in Detroit Turned Into Fishing Pond by Residents”
Avianne Tan
ABC News
August 25, 2015

“Urban Detroit fishing hole drained; finned tenants relocated”
Gus Burns
MLive
August 25, 2015

© Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)

Copyright 2017
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.

blog.smilessparksuccess.com

Resource Rock Star Details

speakingfromtriumph.com

smilessparksuccess.com

Torture Or Not Torture: Proof In Experience

Originally published January 23, 2015.

Revised and republished January 20, 2016 after a web host transfer.

Do an Internet search with the words “not torture” and you will find several claims that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques do not constitute torture.

I will believe that those techniques are not torture when all the people using the phrase “not torture” give me proof in experience. I want them to prove from their own experience that those techniques are not torture. To do this, they have to experience the techniques themselves and report back to me that they did not feel tortured.

I did not read or listen to any details about the techniques because just knowing about them sickens me. However, I do know some details about the situation.

The standards for proof in experience in this situation mean that all supporters of the “not torture” enhanced interrogations must agree to be…

…taken from their own lives without notice.

…taken to a destination away from their lives.

…prevented from seeing or contacting anyone in their lives.

…softened up for interrogation sessions.

…interrogated in anyway the interrogators choose to
interrogate them for the length of time interrogators
choose.

…kept away from their lives and families for an indefinite
period of time, subject to enhanced interrogation
techniques at any time.

If supporters of the “not torture” enhanced interrogation techniques come back from these experiences and tell me they were not tortured, then I will have to believe them.

I do already have proof in experience from the other side of the situation at Abu Ghraib. Eric Fair is an Army veteran who was a contract interrogator in Iraq at Abu Ghraib in 2004. These are Eric Fair’s words about himself:

“I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.”

These are Eric Fair’s words about the Senate’s torture report:

“I assure you there is more; much remains redacted.”

Re·dact

To delete or remove (private or sensitive information)
from a document in preparation for publication

The British Psychological Society reported on a study showing that  “regular people” supported torture “…on a desire for payback, not intelligence.”

Support for torture depends on whether people “are told that torture is likely to be ineffective”, of if they are told the suspect is a terrorist, or if they are told that the suspect had actually planted a bomb.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that:

Not once between late 2001 and early 2009 did the CIA’s use
of torture result in intelligence that helped to foil a terrorist
plot. All of the most useful information came from standard,
non-violent interrogation approaches. Furthermore, tortured
detainees frequently made up things in an attempt to get
their torturers to stop.

Even support for a “ticking time bomb scenario”

depends on a ‘highly idealised’ and ‘highly unrealistic’ set of
assumptions being met. Moreover, their finding that people’s
support for torture is influenced by the identity and the
culpability of the suspect shows that the practice is often
endorsed as a form of punishment, not as a way to extract
information.

The Middle East Research and Information Project found that refusing to use torture creates more security.

…torture is ineffective in enhancing security; on the contrary,
states that do not torture (or extra-judicially execute)
prisoners experience substantially less terrorism, and their
counter-terrorism efforts are more effective.

If you want to feel secure from terrorism, then you should insist you’re your government uses effective interrogation techniques. It turns out that the most effective interrogation techniques are humane.

Disclosure was 14 times more likely to occur early in an
interrogation when a rapport-building approach was used.
Confessions were four times more likely when interrogators
struck a neutral and respectful stance. Rates of detainee
disclosure were also higher when they were interrogated in
comfortable physical settings.

If you want to inflict pain on other people, come right out and say it. Just don’t expect the person in pain to give you the information you need to feel secure. When you approve torture, you make it easier for others to harm you because you create less security for yourself.

Your choice is payback or security:

Choosing payback will bring you less security.

Choosing security will bring you less terrorism.

Basing your choice on your feelings suggests unresolved feelings that need to be addressed. Exposing yourself to more terrorism might not be the best way to satisfy the needs behind those feelings.

I’m waiting for the “not torture” volunteers to give me proof in experience.

“American Torture: The Price Paid, the Lessons Learned”
Lisa Hajjar
Middle East Research and Information Project
Summer 2009, Volume 39

“Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program”
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Approved December 13, 2012
Updated for Release April 3, 2014
Declassification Revisions December 3, 2014

“The Humane Interrogation Technique That Works Much Better Than Torture”
Olga Khazan
The Atlantic
December 14, 2014

“I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib”
Eric Fair
The New York Times
December 9, 2014

“Interviewing High Value Detainees: Securing Cooperation and Disclosures”
Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Natalie Martschuk, and Mandeep K. Dhami
Applied Cognitive Psychology
October 17, 2014

“People’s support for torture in “ticking time bomb scenarios” is influenced by their desire for retribution”
Research Digest
British Psychological Society

“Rapport-building interrogation is more effective than torture”
Research Digest
British Psychological Society

“The Ticking Time Bomb: When the Use of Torture Is and Is Not Endorsed”
Joseph Spino and Denise Dellarosa CumminsReview of Philosophy and Psychology
August 16, 2014

Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)

Copyright 2015
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.

blog.smilessparksuccess.com

Resource Rock Star Details

speakingfromtriumph.com

smilessparksuccess.com

6 Nitty Gritty Questions To Ask Sarah Palin

Originally published December 4, 2013.

Revised and republished January 19, 2016

The current dissatisfaction with political professionals (politicians, pundits, speechmakers, etc.) stems in part from the failure of ordinary citizens to set standards of effectiveness for them. Ordinary citizens live the nitty gritty details of life. One standard we could set is the expectation that political professionals talk about nitty gritty details and answer 6 questions about nitty gritty details. Former Alaskan Governor, former Republican vice presidential candidate, and former Fox News Channel contributor Sarah Palin is so bad at talking about nitty gritty details that she is my example for setting a standard of effectiveness for political professionals.

As Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin did an interview with Katie Couric. During that campaign, the worst financial crisis in decades had disrupted world financial markets and the U.S. government had decided to spend $700 billion bailing out the financial system. Couric asked:

“Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and
groceries? … Instead of helping these big financial institutions that
played a role in creating this mess?”

In 151 words, Palin talked about:

“taxpayers”

“healthcare reform” (twice)

“job creation” (twice, including “umbrella of job creating”)

“shoring up our economy”

“reducing taxes”

“reining in spending”

“tax reductions”

“tax relief”

“trade as opportunity”

“trade sector”

The words “middle-class families” never came out of Palin’s mouth. Political professionals would be effective if they answered the 6 nitty gritty questions of any issue: who, what, where, when, how, and why.

An effective answer from Palin would have focused on

Who

Middle class families and big financial institutions

What

What the bailout money was for

When

The schedule for releasing the money and the
estimated time for financial recovery

Where

“Main Street” versus “Wall Street”

How

How the government could ensure “Wall Street”
spent the money on helping “Main Street” instead
of on self-congratulating celebration trips, as AIG
and Wells Fargo wanted to.

Why

The reasoning behind and/or past examples of
bailing out “Wall Street” rather than “Main Street”
or behind “Wall Street only” rather than “Main
Street, too”

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin came nowhere near the nitty gritty details. If citizens of the United States insisted that political professionals include the nitty gritty who, what, when, where, how, and why when they talk about issues, interviewers like Couric might start using the same standards for effectiveness in their interviews.

It is always possible that political professionals will not know part of an answer. In that case, they should say they will find out the information and post it on their website with their answers to all of the other nitty gritty questions so their response is complete.

Every topic a political professional addresses would have its own 6 nitty gritty questions. Below are two more topics Palin has spoken about.

Sarah Palin compared paying off the federal debt to slavery. Some nitty gritty questions for Palin on this issue include:

Who

Who was the first president to borrow money from
a foreign country?

What

What activities will American taxpayer slaves be
prevented from doing, since slave owners take
freedom of choice away from slaves?

When

When will American taxpayer slaves be forcibly
taken from their families?

Where

Where will American taxpayer slaves be put up
for sale?

(Who will taxpayer slaves be sold to?)

How

How do you decide which debts mean slavery
and which debts do not? Do homeowners
become slaves when mortgage holders sell
mortgage notes to a new “master that is not
of your choosing”?

Why

Why didn’t you complain about taxpayers
becoming slaves in 2010 when House
Republicans chose “Prince of Pork” Hal Rogers
to Chair the House Appropriations Committee?

Sarah Palin visited Wausau, Wisconsin in late 2013 because of a controversy over religious music during school Christmas concerts. Some nitty gritty questions for Palin on this issue include:

Who

Who thinks the war on Christmas is an
exaggeration?

What

What are your proposals for protecting the “heart”
of all religious holidays celebrated by nonChristian
Americans?

When

When will you talk about the effective way Wausau
community members came together to discuss the
controversy and create a solution before you arrived
in Wausau?

Where

Where is your anger when people “diminish” the
“true meaning” of religious holidays celebrated by
nonChristian Americans?

How

How will you protect the religious celebrations of
nonChristian Americans from Scrooges?

Why

Why did you think Wausau residents would need
to buy your book to follow your steps
“to combat the Scrooges” when the Wausau
community had already settled  the issue?

If people keep asking political professionals like Sarah Palin the 6 nitty gritty questions, they will have to start responding with at least some nitty gritty answers.

“Palin: ’What The Bailout Does Is Help Those Who Are Concerned About Health Care Reform’”
Ryan Powers
Think Progress
September 25, 2008

“400 line up for Sarah Palin book promotion at Rib Mountain”
Lydia Mulvany
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 14, 2013

“Bailed-Out Bank Nixes Lavish Vegas Junket”
CBSNEWS
February 3, 2009

“Conservatives Peeved After GOP Taps ‘Prince of Pork’ to Lead Spending Committee”
Fox News
December 10, 2010

“Sarah Palin coming to Wausau area”
Dan Griffin
WAOW Television
November 6, 2013

“Sarah Palin invokes slavery, inappropriately of course”
Jonathan Capehart
The Washington Post
November 15, 2013

Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)

Copyright 2015
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.

blog.smilessparksuccess.com

Resource Rock Star Details

speakingfromtriumph.com

smilessparksuccess.com

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Has Left The Room

Originally published April 9, 2014.

Revised and republished January 10, 2016 after a web host transfer.

I am a registered Democrat. For a reason I cannot remember, I gave the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) my email address. I receive frequent emails asking for money. The emails reveal that the DCCC left the room I’m in years ago. In my room, I talk to friends and acquaintances about wanting Democrats and Republicans to work together. I talk about the Republican politicians I like. I want Democratic politicians to speak respectfully about and to Republicans so that Republicans learn they can trust Democrats.

The room the DCCC was in when I wrote this blog post was all about taking down Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. The emails I received frequently said nasty things about John Boehner. Below are several samples:

“Boehner must be tearing his hair out right now.”

“Boehner just got caught red-handed!”
(This one from Nancy Pelosi herself.)

“Boehner wasn’t expecting this, friend.”
(Another one from Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is not my friend.)

“Boehner is already bragging.”
(Nancy Pelosi)

“This news will make Boehner furious!”

“Boehner surely didn’t bargain for this.”

“…a slap in the face to Boehner’s attempt to hold on to his obstructionist Tea Party majority.”
(This is a mischaracterization of John Boehner.)

“…we could really embarrass Speaker Boehner come this fall.”

“You can bet Speaker Boehner and Paul Ryan are high-fiving in the hallways of Congress over their record-breaking haul.”

“Boehner’s going to hate this.”

“…to hand Boehner’s buddies a devastating defeat.”

“…completely demoralize John Boehner…”

“Speaker Boehner was riding high a couple of days ago, but he’s going to have an absolute meltdown…”

“…a major embarrassment for John Boehner.”

I might be a registered Democrat, but my political goal was NEVER to catch John Boehner red-handed, make him tear his hair out, embarrass him, make him furious, slap him in the face, demoralize him, or give him a meltdown. Those words and phrases are NEVER part of my conversations.

My political goal is for all Democrats and all Republicans to learn to work together to make sure all citizens have what we need to create success in our own lives. The ability of individual citizens to be successful does matter. The mortgage crisis would have proved that to politicians who paid attention. When millions of ordinary people could not pay their mortgages, the financial world came tumbling down. But if the entire Democratic party is focused the way the DCCC emails are focused, then my hope for a better life is doomed.

The Republicans might be sending similar emails to registered Republicans, but I don’t know that. I do know that Democrats are losing elections because they keep proving they are in a different room than voters. Democratic voters on or near the political party fence at times decide that an individual Republican candidate sounds closer to the room they’re in than the Democratic candidate.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is one example. In his second election as Governor, nearly a third of Democratic voters chose Republican Christie. Voters in numbers big enough to swing elections want bipartisan politicians who stay in the same room voters are in. Those voters do not want politicians who leave the room and fantasize about what they could do to leaders from the other party. Governor Christie’s lower approval ratings in the years since the George Washington Bridge scandal suggest he isn’t as bipartisan as he appeared.

House Democrats keep demonstrating that they are intent on satisfying their own needs, not mine. They need to take John Boehner down and they think I need to take John Boehner down, too. I don’t. I need Democrats to spend time in my room instead of closing themselves off in a room by themselves. Right now, I have no hope for a better life with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House for a second time. She offended me the entire four years she was Speaker of the House.

In private, Democrats sound just as bad as Republicans sound in public. Given that sameness, what difference does it make who wins the majority in Congress? If Democrats keep focusing on taking down John Boehner and do win the majority in Congress, they would still be in a different room. Their focus would still be on satisfying their own need to humiliate the other party instead of on satisfying citizen needs for Democrats and Republicans to work together.

Besides writing this blog post, I wrote a letter to my Democratic congressional representative. I included a $3 check. I also sent a copy of this blog post. The letter is below.

Dear Rep. ————-,
Enclosed is a $3 check and a blog post I wrote about the DCCC. Please read the post.

I also sent copies of the post to the DCCC, to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and to President Obama.

I will send you more money if you do all of the following:

1.  Stop using words and phrases like “howling” and “gang of Republicans”.

2.  Speak respectfully about Republicans both publicly and privately so they have no excuse to speak disrespectfully about you.

3.  Explain what you will do to seek commonalities between Republicans and Democrats.

4.  If you have already identified commonalities, explain what those commonalities are and how you will approach your Republican counterparts to talk about them.

Making those four actions your normal method of representing me will put us back in same room.

I trust you to be creative in finding commonalities, but I’ll give you an example of how I would like you as the politician who represents me to look for commonalities with Republicans.

Many Republicans are pro-life, meaning they support the right of every baby to be born. The most effective way to create a commonality on this issue is to focus on babies. If every baby has a right to be born, then every baby has a right to be born to parents who want him or her. Unfortunately, babies are born everyday to parents who do not want them. Those children endure neglect, abuse, and even murder at the hands of their parents. Focusing on babies turns the discussion with pro-life Republicans to protecting all babies by finding ways to make sure all babies are born to parents who want them.

It will take thought, but I voted for you assuming that you would take the time to think. It will be challenging, but you can challenge any Republican who does not live up to their pro-life claim. Not all Democrats are pro-choice and not all Republicans are pro-life, but I expect you to look for and build on the commonalities.

Sincerely,
Paula Kramer

Generally, the emails from my own representative are far better than the emails from the DCCC. However, I get the least partisan and most respectful emails from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Senator Booker is willing to work with Republicans and spoke out against both Republican and Democratic campaign attack ads. Booker’s backers have apparently used some attack ads, though. Hard to say what Booker’s involvement was. However, Booker is still more with me in the room I’m in than not with me.

Letter_To_Democratic_Politicians

Democratic_Power_Desires

“Boehner Fights Back Against Tea Party, Again”
David Welna
National Public Radio (NPR)
February 14, 2014

“A Brief History of Infanticide”
Dr. Larry S. Milner
The Society for the Prevention of Infanticide
1998

“Cory Booker on ‘Nauseating” Attack Ads & More Sunday Talk (Video)
The Daily Beast
May 20, 2012

“Exit Polls”: N.J. Governor”
The New York Times
Election 2013

“Poll: Christie Approval rating at New Low in N.J.”
Courtney Such
RealClear Politics
June 23, 2015

“Rand Paul, Cory Booker Kindle Festivus Bromance Over Sentencing Reform, Ending War On Drugs”
Matt Sledge
The Huffington Post
December 23, 2013

Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)

Copyright 2015
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.

blog.smilessparksuccess.com

Resource Rock Star Details

speakingfromtriumph.com

smilessparksuccess.com