Tyrannis Non Grata

Citizen machinery in action. We know the risks; we see them firsthand every day, with much darker shadows on the road ahead. It makes sense to focus one’s energies on an achievable set of actions. This is one such effort, with a reliable and credible set of organizations behind it, guided in part by legal scholar and activist Lawrence Lessig. Today is the first day of the rest of this presidency — how many remain is, in part, up to us, the people.

Why Impeachment?

The nation is now witnessing a massive corruption of the presidency, far worse than Watergate. Indeed, Nixon White House Counsel John Dean has told reporters: “I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump.”[1] Given the opportunity of ten full weeks between the election and the inauguration to divest his business interests, Mr. Trump chose instead to announce, just nine days before inauguration, a wholly inadequate plan to step away from operations, but not ownership or income streams, of the Trump Organization. Instead, he has chosen to profit from the presidency at public expense, in violation of the United States Constitution. The violations, the corruption, and the threat to our republic are here now.

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Presidential Paranoia and the News

Always read Dr. David Greenberg. At The American Prospect, David offers a tight, accurate snapshot of the Republican vituperation toward news media from its most paranoid poles, Nixon and Trump. The piece, like David’s books and writing generally, is very good at identifying consequential historical patterns, with sharp observations linking the long view to the crackling present. Follow David’s work to add depth and context to your own projects and understanding.

… In 2017, the news media command considerably less authority than they once did to set the news agenda, arbitrate disputes over public issues, or even establish a common standard of what we ought to be discussing. Seeing that weakness, Trump appears to believe that he doesn’t need the mainstream media the way his predecessors did—and that when it comes to raw, open warfare with the journalists who cover him, he has nothing to lose. Whether he is right or wrong will depend on the performance of the press in the next four years. …

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Jet City Rockin’

Seattle is putting it’s money where its democracy is: out in public. Too bad the president won’t do the same.

http://komonews.com/news/local/protesters-rally-in-seattle-call-on-trump-to-release-tax-returns

CT-IMG-17-04-15-SeattleTaxMarch

 

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This Is How We Do

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Legitimate Allegiance

Perhaps too rarely, advocates manage to link the climate conundrum with one of the most powerful civic narratives, patriotism (which, as we know, is intensely dangerous in the wrong hands—and it’s often in the wrong hands). When it works, it’s pretty good stuff, and it has the added benefit of being, you know, true. We do actually need to protect the land and the people who constitute our concept of a country. Even in the face of legitimate criticisms of the country and nationalism, generally, we still need to protect the land we rely on and the people we exist with. More peace, more health, more wisdom, more equality; there are a lot of shared urgencies here. We are yearning to breathe free!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwV97sws6kk

 

 

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The LA Times Brings the Pain

The LA Times has launched a potent and incisive series examining the many severe limitations and burgeoning problems of the Trump administration. On on hand, one might be surprised that an organization—even a tough-minded editorial board in America’s second largest city—could make such a determination so quickly. On the other hand, the current administration is a veritable haboob of boobery, and there is nothing to be gained by forestalling the alarms. They do not. Topics thus far include Trump’s lies, his authoritarian tendencies, and his “war on journalism,” among others. Follow the series from the beginning, and read their explanation for “Why We Took a Stand on Trump.” You might also wish to support the paper with a digital and/or print subscription.

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Build the Democracy Machine

From the distinguished Dr. John Gastil of Penn State: an argument—and a model—for a digital network that effectively connects and advances democratic deliberation and action: the Democracy Machine. We can absolutely create systems like this. As this paper argues, we need the vision, the funding, and the active participation of the countless individual groups already doing important work in this arena. (Dr. Gastil is a former adviser and, though he does not yet know it, a friend of Civic Tide.)

Dozens—and possibly hundreds—of platforms like these have been conceived or built to address specific aspects of civic engagement. Unconnected to each other, let alone an integrated system easy for citizens to use, these platforms cannot begin to realize their full potential. This essay might help to bring the creators and users of such tools into a more focused conversation with one another, to build a more fully integrated civic platform.

The Democracy Machine’s operation can be summarized as drawing on public energy and ideas, mixing those into concrete policy advice, influencing government decision making, and creating a feedback loop that helps officials and citizens track progress together as they continuously turn the policymaking crank. The Machine envisioned is an online system to harmonize the interests of civic leaders, vocal and marginalized citizens, and government. Democracy’s need for ongoing public consultation would fuel the Machine, which would, in turn, generate focused and empowered deliberation that gives back to government the legitimacy necessary to make tough policy decisions.

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