Archive for January, 2011

Message From The Peace Alliance :O)

The Peace Alliance

Taking Action: “Transforming the Public Discourse”
Letters to the Editor and other options to help inform the national dialogue

“Let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together… If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we lost.”
~President Obama, Tucson Memorial Service

Dear Lacy,

Tuesday night over 200 people from around the country joined us for a conference call on soul searching after the Arizona shooting. On the call, attendees expressed pain, sadness, hope, frustration, and anger after the grave Tucson attack. Many felt concerned about the culture of violence that continues to haunt our nation. We also focused on solutions for moving towards a culture of peace, both in our political discourse and in our communities.

Here are a few ideas that you might consider, to help shape the dialogue and bring some measure of healing to this open moment:

Write a Letter to the Editor

Use our handy Letter to the Editor tool to encourage our fellow citizen to take on a shared responsibility for the support of our nations young people, and for the advancement of a culture of peace in government as well as in our communities. You’ll see sample material on our site to help inform a more peaceful dialogue and perspective. It’s easy and can have a real impact!

State of the Unity Parties

An inspiring and innovative project of “No Labels” is bringing together Republicans, Democrats and others for civility and unity.

From No Labels’s Kiki Mclean:

“On Tuesday, January 25th, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Every year, across the country, Democrats watch the speech with Democrats and Republicans watch with Republicans. This year, its time we break past the divisions and do something different. We want you to host a No Labels State of the Unity Watch Party in your home by inviting your friends and family–of all political stripes–to join together for the President’s address. Register here to host a No Labels State of the Unity Watch Party!

Three Ideas for Congressional Comity and Civility
(from Third Way)

A think tank called Third Way issued an Open Letter to the Bipartisan Leadership of the U.S. Congress offering three unique new ideas for helping to restore some comity and civility in Congress Read the article in the Washington Post:

* Mixed (bipartisan) seating at the State of the Union, to avoid the spectacle of one side jumping up to applaud and the other sitting glumly.
* A bipartisan retreat for each house of Congress.
* Regular visits by Members of Congress to the district/state of a member of a different party.

Read the letter at:

Three Suggestions for Peacemaking in Your Own Life

1. If you have any internal judgements of anybody, politically or in your life, notice any judgments of “wrong or bad.” Then connect, “what are the deeper needs of mine behind those judgements?”
2. When you have disagreement with what others are saying (with politicians and media pundits, for example), see if you can empathize with the needs they are trying to meet, and see if there are ways you can relate to them.
3. If you are talking to someone who is expressing judgments — that you either agree or disagree with — try to reflect back and empathize with some of their needs.

These are paraphrased from Nonviolent Communication (NVC) facilitator John Kinyon, who helped lead our recent conference call. Learn more about NVC concepts and practices.

The Peace Alliance

For General Inquiries, contact our office at

A Message From Michelle Obama :O)

Lacy —

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is usually remembered for his heroic leadership of the civil rights movement — he led the successful Montgomery bus boycott, delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech at a time when such words were still controversial, and ultimately gave his own life to the cause of equality.

But Dr. King was much more than a civil rights champion — he was a man who lived his entire life in service to others, speaking out against poverty, economic injustice, and violence. Wherever he saw suffering, he did what he could to help, no matter who it was that needed him or why they were in pain. Through his leadership, he showed us what we can accomplish when we stand together.

Each January, we remember Dr. King on his own holiday — and one of the best ways to preserve his legacy is to engage in service ourselves. As Dr. King told us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

That’s why from tomorrow, Saturday, January 15th, through Monday, January 17th, Organizing for America volunteers will be participating in service projects all across the country in Dr. King’s honor. There will be food drives, neighborhood clean-ups, education projects, blood drives, and more.

There’s an event in Los Angeles — please attend if you can, and help make this country an even better place.

Here are the details:

What: Service event

Where: Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s Blood Donor Facility
8700 Gracie Allen Dr. (Alden Dr.)
Los Angeles, CA 90048

When: Monday, January 17th
8:30 am

RSVP now

If you can’t make that particular service event, you can find others in your area here.

This movement is about so much more than politics — it is about coming together through progress, change, and community. Lifting each other up in dedication and service is one of the best ways not only to honor Dr. King, but to honor each other. By giving service a new role in this country, we can establish a new foundation for our economy and a brighter future for our children.

That is why service is key to achieving our national priorities, and why Barack recently helped out at a Boys and Girls Club service event. Since moving to Washington, D.C., two years ago, he and I have gotten to know the community through similar service projects, including past Martin Luther King Day events. I treasure those opportunities, and I look forward to another one next week. Every time we pitch in, we get so much back, and always learn amazing things from our neighbors.

All of us have something to contribute, and all of us can make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. It’s a great way to remind others that they are not forgotten, and to remind ourselves that there are always things we can do.

Please help Barack and me honor the legacy of Dr. King, and join us in service to our country once again this year:



Courage Campaign

Courage Campaign

“I think it’s important for all leaders… not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party… to say, look, we can’t stand for this…we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”
-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, March 25, 2010

Dear Lacy:

I know something about senseless violence.

I have never met Congresswoman Giffords, nor Judge Roll, nor any of the other victims of the shocking massacre that occurred Saturday in Tucson. But I recall as though it were yesterday the assassinations in 1978 of my friend and mentor Harvey Milk along with San Francisco Mayor Moscone. As if that were not enough, only seven years later, I was stabbed by a group of skinheads screaming “faggot.” For me, political violence has never been hypothetical.

Harvey received so many death threats that he stopped looking at them. He almost assumed he would be killed, because of the hate speech and incendiary language that foes of equality hurled with impunity.

On Saturday, it happened again. While no one knows for sure what drove Jared Loughner to commit this heinous act, we do know that the toxic political discourse in this country today- candidates talking about “second amendment remedies”, news networks featuring anti-government conspiracy theorists, and national political figures like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin describing themselves as “progressive hunters” and urging followers to “reload”- lays the groundwork for this kind of violence (1, 2, 3, 4). We shouldn’t stand for it.

It has to stop. That’s why today the Courage Campaign calls on Rep. Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to investigate the ties between violence and increasing calls for it in our national political dialogue.

Mr. Issa has promised to hold a hearing every day on various Obama administration programs and legislation. What about hearings on what led to this attack? How about an investigation into increasing calls for violence from national political figures, organizations, and the media? It’s time for him to call hearings now on the environment that led to the deaths.

We know that law enforcement and the judiciary will bring the perpetrators to justice. But that’s only this time. What about next time? We will never end this violence until we have an honest national dialogue about who and what is feeding it, and determine the steps that can be taken to prevent more violence.

Will you join me in calling on Chairman Issa to investigate how overheated political rhetoric can contribute to such violence?

Let us do more than bring the shooter to justice. Let us put the spotlight on those who are teaching the next shooter that violence is the answer.

Join me in calling on Chairman Issa to convene hearings, so that we may again become a nation of democracy and debate, rather than mob rule and violence.


Cleve Jones


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An Excerpt from
The 100/0 Principle
by Al Ritter

What is the most effective way to create and sustain great relationships with others? It’s The 100/0 Principle: You take full responsibility (the 100) for the relationship, expecting nothing (the 0) in return.

Implementing The 100/0 Principle is not natural for most of us. It takes real commitment to the relationship and a good dose of self-discipline to think, act and give 100 percent.

The 100/0 Principle applies to those people in your life where the relationships are too important to react automatically or judgmentally. Each of us must determine the relationships to which this principle should apply. For most of us, it applies to work associates, customers, suppliers, family and friends.

STEP 1 – Determine what you can do to make the relationship work…then do it. Demonstrate respect and kindness to the other person, whether he/she deserves it or not.

STEP 2 – Do not expect anything in return. Zero, zip, nada.

STEP 3 – Do not allow anything the other person says or does (no matter how annoying!) to affect you. In other words, don’t take the bait.

STEP 4 – Be persistent with your graciousness and kindness. Often we give up too soon, especially when others don’t respond in kind. Remember to expect nothing in return.

At times (usually few), the relationship can remain challenging, even toxic, despite your 100 percent commitment and self-discipline. When this occurs, you need to avoid being the “Knower” and shift to being the “Learner.” Avoid Knower statements/ thoughts like “that won’t work,” “I’m right, you are wrong,” “I know it and you don’t,” “I’ll teach you,” “that’s just the way it is,” “I need to tell you what I know,” etc.

Instead use Learner statements/thoughts like “Let me find out what is going on and try to understand the situation,” “I could be wrong,” “I wonder if there is anything of value here,” “I wonder if…” etc. In other words, as a Learner, be curious!

Principle Paradox

This may strike you as strange, but here’s the paradox: When you take authentic responsibility for a relationship, more often than not the other person quickly chooses to take responsibility as well. Consequently, the 100/0 relationship quickly transforms into something approaching 100/100. When that occurs, true breakthroughs happen for the individuals involved, their teams, their organizations and their families.

Organizing For America :O)


House Republicans are moving forward to repeal all provisions of health reform, with a final vote scheduled for next week.

If they get their way, insurance companies will once again have the right to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, drop or limit coverage if you become sick, and charge women higher premiums than men. Seniors will lose critical prescription drug savings and free preventive care under Medicare.

It’s sad but not surprising.

The motivations here have little to do with good policy. Repeal is just the first agenda item of a new Republican majority that is much more interested in appeasing their right-wing base and looking out for special interests than working together to create jobs and grow the economy.

Behind the scenes, insurance-industry lobbyists are working overtime with Republicans to take us back to the days when their clients were able to do whatever they wanted.

But this movement is different. We don’t take our cues from special interests or lobbyists, and we never will. We don’t take their money either, relying solely on support from folks like you — and it only makes us stronger.

Right now, Organizing for America is putting together a team of dedicated organizers and volunteers to defend our progress, stop repeal, and expose the Republican plan for what it really is.

Please donate $3 or more to help protect our progress — and stop the repeal of health insurance reform.

We fought to pass the Affordable Care Act because it was the right thing to do.

Its provisions are fair, reduce the deficit by more than $230 billion over the next 10 years, cut costs, and protect all Americans from the worst insurance industry abuses. The law is already making a difference in people’s lives.

Among other provisions, the Affordable Care Act:

— Prevents insurers from raising premiums by double digits with no recourse or accountability;
— Requires insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on health care, not CEO bonuses — and if they don’t, they have to provide you a rebate;
— Frees families from the fear of losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly, after an injury or illness; and
— Prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against pregnant women or denying coverage to children born with disabilities.

The Republican alternative at this point consists of a two-page addendum to the two-page repeal bill. It’s a plan to make a plan to have a plan.

Even without a coherent proposal, they won’t have trouble raising money to drum up support for repeal. Republicans’ close relationship with entrenched interests has benefited them in campaigns that did not begin — and will not end — with health reform.

But we’re fighting back with everything we’ve got — building a large-scale, grassroots effort to stop this repeal and protect our progress. Your support will fund the organizing that generates calls to Congress, neighborhood canvasses, and letters in our local papers.

Together, we’ll make sure our message is heard and understood: We stand by health reform and will not tolerate attempts to put insurance companies back in charge.

Donate $3 or more to fight repeal and protect our progress:



Yohannes Abraham
Political Director
Organizing for America

Lacy —

Our progress is under attack.

Their majority is not even a day old, but House Republicans are already getting ready to pass a bill to repeal health reform.

Instead of focusing on the future, they want to put insurance companies back in charge of our health care. To go back to the days when these companies could deny coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions, cancel coverage when people would get sick, or limit the care you could receive — even when you needed more. When seniors would be forced to choose between paying their mortgage and paying for their prescription drugs, simply because they landed in the “donut hole” in coverage.

They want to turn our progress into a partisan fight.

But you and I know that the Affordable Care Act and other reforms to protect consumers did not pass because of a partisan or ideological agenda.

They passed because millions of Americans stood up and said we were ready for commonsense solutions after years of fraud and abuse, for a new era of responsibility after unchecked power. They passed because, after 100 years of debate and negotiation, we said we would wait no longer for health reform.

These reforms passed because of you. Now, we must prepare to stand up for them again.

Organizing for America is pulling together a team of organizers and volunteers to defend reform — and we need you on this team. Together, we’ll show how our progress is already improving lives across the country — and take on those who are pushing for repeal.

Join the fight to protect our progress and keep Congress focused on the future.

It’s clear that’s not where House Republicans are looking — they’re putting the car in reverse and heading straight toward the ditch that we just spent two years climbing out of.

As the President said this week, we are still emerging from a recession that took a toll on millions of families, many of whom are still trying to get their lives back on track. The Affordable Care Act and Wall Street reform were important steps forward on the road to recovery, and we can’t afford to play political games with them now.

We have an obligation to ensure our progress is not rewritten by the insurance industry and big banks.

This year, we’ll need to stand by the President as he works to grow our economy, make the United States more competitive, and keep moving the country forward — but we’re also going to have to work hard to defend what we have already achieved.

Join the campaign to protect our progress:



Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

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