Friday, January 15, 2010

Tea Partiers -> GOP?

Commenter Steve says:
Please let people know!

The Republican Precinct Caucus is going to happen statewide on February 13 at 10 AM.

This will be the final test to see if the Tea Party movement is really for real or if it will go the way of United We Stand.

Will the tea partiers storm these precinct caucuses like they did the Health Care forums. Will you see as many there as you saw at the rallies. I am skeptical. I don’t think they have the organization or the will to do so.

And then you have the Legislative District Caucus probably on March to elect delegates for the state convention. So they tea partiers will be tested early this year. I test I am pretty sure they will fail.

He's pretty pessimistic, but he also has a point. Tea Partiers need to show up, not only to large events and big time elections, but also to these really basic, first steps. Can we do it? Have you figured out how to be a PCO in your neighborhood? The NYT published an article on this today, about the Tea Partiers taking over the GOP from the ground up. Let's see if we can do it.

Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement

With so many rumors, half-truths, misleading statements, infighting, etc., I thought it would be a good idea to do some research on the various groups using the phrase, "Tea Party" in their names. Of course, I'm a pretty busy girl and didn't have the time to hunker down and do the research, so I enlisted the help of Ma LibertyBelle. The following represents the initial findings of her research. Afterward I'll throw in my two cents.

Let us first define the various types of organizations that can exist.

501(c ) (3) —these are organizations set up for charitable, education, etc., service to a community. They are tax exempt (pay no tax on their income) and donations are tax deductible for donor. These groups cannot take any part in election campaigns and may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.

501 (c ) (4) —these organizations are tax exempt (pay no tax on their income) but donations are NOT tax deductible for donor. These groups can do everything a ( c) (3) can do plus they are capable of extensive lobbying; they can advocate for and against legislation. I think NumbersUSA is an example of this kind of group.

Political Action Committees (PACs) —these groups can endorse political candidates and raise money to defeat or elect candidates. They can receive up to $5000 per years from an individual or another PAC. They can give up to $5000 per election cycle to a candidate committee. They can give up to $15,000 per year to any National Party committee. Generally, these groups also do not pay taxes on their income but, of course, donations are not tax deductible for donors.

527 Organizations —these groups are non-profits and they can help elucidate the issues surrounding a candidacy or may lobby for or against legislation. Swiftboat Veterans and Moveon.org are examples of these. 527’s are generally tax exempt (do not pay tax on their income) but, of course, are not tax deductible for donors.

Some groups, like FreedomWorks and the NRA, encompass all four types of groups. Each part of the organization, in that case, has to be clearly separate and segregated in terms of board of directors, income, spending, bookkeeping, etc.

***

Most Americans who consider themselves part of the tea party movement have only a vague awareness of the various national tea party groups that have taken form since the movement begin. We get notices of various local rallies and we go to make our voices heard. We do not go as members or adherents of any one particular tea party Group. Today, Liberty Belle's father and I went to the pro 10th Amendment Rally in Olympia and visited the offices of our state legislators. We weren’t very interested in which group or groups sponsored the rally. We just showed up to work.

In fact, however, several different groups DO exist and, during the past few months, we have witnessed some growing pains among the groups. There are disagreements, rivalries and turf battles taking place over issues that go to the essence of the movement’s purpose and strategies as well as more trivial rivalries.

The reality is that there is room for all types of tea party groups. It is a movement, not one definitive group with a definitive leader. A spokesman for FreedomWorks has said,


One thing that’s clear is that anyone who says they own the tea party movement is going to get run over because no one owns the movement.


How right he is. Back on Presidents’ Day, February 16, 2009, when scores of citizens joined our daughter at Westlake Park to tell President Obama “Do not sign off on Porkulus”, we assembled as individuals seeking redress from our government. We are still individuals, but because we have a common purpose, it is natural for the movement to begin to organize itself.

To help you with figuring out who is who and which group is which, I am summarizing basic information on the most important national groups (in no particular order) at the present time:

Tea Party Patriots

This is a non-partisan, non-profit, umbrella coalition of hundreds of local tea parties and individuals. TPP states it’s mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with their core values. TPP. operates with a board of directors. Politico reports that in December, TPP held a conference call with organizers across the country to discuss plans to form its own Political Action Committee (PAC).

American Liberty Alliance

This is a for-profit company co-owned by Eric Odom who was one of the early tea party organizers. They state their objective is to provide a place of collaboration for Free Market movements, On their web site they state they are not a non-profit group and that donations are considered gifts and are not tax deductible. Odom has just founded Liberty First PAC to raise money to fund congressional challengers embodying the movement’s principles.

Tea Party Express.org (Our Country Deserves Better PAC)

This is a PAC, The Tea Party Express part of OCDB has conducted publicized bus tours with tea party rallies across the country, one tour ending at the 9/12 March on Washington DC, for which they paid funds to the PAC officials, the consulting firm that runs the PAC and to the activists who traveled on the Express. The PAC’s coordinator said its goal “is to support conservative candidates for Congress in 2010 and a conservative presidential candidate in 2012.” They are currently endorsing Scott Brown in Mass. And asking for donations for his Senate race. Question: why not just advise donors to go directly to his campaign website and donate there?

Tea Party Nation

This is a for-profit company that runs a networking website for activists and has planned what is billed as the “First National Tea Party Convention.” The TPN states the three-day convention in February is aimed at bringing the Tea Party Movement leaders together from around the nation for panel discussions, training, networking, etc. Sarah Palin and Congresswoman Michele Bachman are scheduled to speak. The TPN president explains that his group is also hoping to have a profit from the event that can be funneled back into conservative causes through a 527 group it plans to set up to get involved in campaigns. (Our daughter has been invited appear as a panelist to discuss the future of the tea party movement, which would appear to be a timely and important topic.)

There are several other established and well-funded Washington-based conservative groups that have gotten most of their funds from big donors. In recent months they’ve helped facilitate and organize aspects of the tea party movement. These groups are:

FreedomWorks

A non-profit conservative organization. It incorporates a 501 (c ) (3); a 501 (c) (4); a 527; and state PACS. FreedomWorks has recently launched Take Back America PAC.

Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation

Americans for Prosperity, a section 501(c)(4) organization under the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions or gifts to AFP are not tax deductible.These groups are two separate entities with their own governing boards. Each is a national organization based in Washington, D.C., with staff on the ground in state chapters across the nation. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.

Americans for Limited Government

A section 501(c)(4) organization and contributions are not tax deductible. Per their web site: The time is ripe for an independent, nonpartisan political movement that fights for hardworking taxpayers against the special interests that continually push for big government nationwide. GetLiberty.org, a project of Americans for Limited Government, gives you the resources to stand up against the tyrannical government.

American Majority

A recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As such, all contributions including bequests, devises, transfers and gifts are tax deductible. The group describes itself as follows: At American Majority, we believe that change must begin at the local level, through engaged citizens effectively implementing freedom. We believe that individual liberty is achieved through limited government and free markets. We believe in lowering the barrier to entry for citizen participation in our republic. By training candidates and activists to be effective today, we are enhancing America's tomorrow. American Majority has been endorsed by the editor of Redstate blog. American Majority may be establishing a PAC called GrassRootPAC.

There may be other groups but these are some of the primary ones at present.

The important point to remember is the following one that is articulated on the web site of the Chicago Tea Party:


We have no Generals. We are all rapid response artillery specialists who can move at a moment’s notice to destroy big spending targets.



***


Now Ma Liberty Belle and myself do not claim to know everything about everything. This was only meant to be a starting point for other tea partiers to look into the organizations themselves. I think that the more informed we can be, the better choices we can all make.

My opinion right now is this: any group that wants to use "Tea Party" in their name or description MUST BE TOTALLY transparent, upfront, and honest about where the money is going.

As of right now I don't instinctively have a problem with some groups acting as PAC's or 527's - I understand the need for these types of organizations - but I do have a problem with groups that are not upfront with the regular, everyday people that are donating their hard-earned dollars to the cause.

You see, some people might want to do donate to a PAC, while others will want to donate to a non-profit, while others may want to donate directly to candidates. The point is that it is up to each individual to decide where his or her money should go. Unfortunately, there has not been enough transparency with some of the groups. That doesn't necessarily mean they're doing nefarious things with the donations, but they haven't been honest and open and if the Tea Party name means anything to anyone, it must consistently operate with full openness, transparency, and honesty.

Being upfront about the structure of your organization and the destination of donations means a heck of a lot more than just mentioning in a news article every once in a while that your organization is "x" and the money goes to "y." It means that you explain the structure and use of money in every single email, newsletter, page on the website, solicitation for donations, etc.

My parents gave money to Tea Party Express during one of their tours because, based on the style of the emails TPE sent out, my mom thought that it was a bunch of ragtag citizens journeying across the country to rally the troops so to speak. She literally thought that her few dollars were going to gas money to get the bus to the next city. Little did she know it was going into a PAC's coffers. Again, we have no problem with the idea of PAC's. The problem arises when their emails completely, and I think deliberately, mislead many people like my mom into donating. They played on the assumptions and good will of many patriots. Now, had they been upfront about the money going to a PAC to support conservative candidates, she may have donated, she may not have, but at least the choice would have been up to her and my dad.

It may seem like I am picking on Tea Party Express, but it just happens to be the one we dealt with personally. My plea to all the groups is BE HONEST, and my warning to them is that if they are not totally and completely forthcoming then they risk the entire movement because the people that make up the tea parties will become cynical and distrustful. If this happens the movement will die and the lack of transparency will be the reason.

My invitation to contribute on a panel at Tea Party Nation's national convention was a difficult choice for me. I don't know enough about them, their structure, or their bookkeeping, and so of course I have questions. As always, I talk over tough decisions with my parents, and we came to the conclusion that if people are going to attend, then there exists an opportunity to discuss these issues. I accepted the invitation in the hope that I can impress upon the various groups, including the hosts, Tea Party Nation, that transparency and honesty are paramount to the advancement of our ideals and will be the primary cause of our success or our failure. Make no mistake, the tea party movement will fail if we fail to rise above the murkiness that currently presides over Washington D.C. and Olympia politics. The back room deals being made for ObamaCare are the most obvious example that come to mind. We must be better than that. I will go and I will try to convince people of this.

In summary, one of my goals is to contribute to a clarified architecture of our fast growing tea party movement. It is critical to the maintenance of our trust in each other, that organizations within the movement be completely transparent about what kind of group they are—for-profit, non-profit, PACs--and how they spend the money we donate.

I believe that if we sort this out then all of the groups could exist, each with a different purpose, and that those fingers could become a fist that effectively fights for the liberty of all Americans.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I just donated to Doctors Without Borders...

...You can too. If you haven't seen the pictures yet, take a look. It's just awful. Please consider donating to Doctors Without Borders. Any little amount will help. Not only are the people of Haiti dealing with the deaths from the earthquake, but they will very soon be dealing with the massive spread of disease in refugee camps.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Monday, January 11, 2010

Super helpful tips I learned at Saturday's training

I attended the Evergreen Freedom Foundation's (EFF) legislative training day on Saturday with about 300 other regular folks that are tired of sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the future of the state and the nation.

It was awesome. It was inspiring. We learned the process that a bill goes through to become a law, we learned about social media and all the great ways activists can use it, and so much more.

One of the most important and valuable lesson for me was the bit on how to communicate effectively with our state legislators. It was some of the best advice I've ever heard on this matter. Simple and logical, but for some reason never occurred to me.

Another important lesson: we must start getting involved by testifying at committee hearings. Committees are where bills go to die, so if you want a bill to see the light of day, you must find a way to get to Olympia and testify. If you need any more motivation, just know that SEIU and ACORN regularly send people to testify at all the important hearings, and our side never sends anyone. Scary, eh? If you want to testify, contact your legislator, or if he or she is a rabid lefty, try contacting one of the more conservative committee members or legislators and they should be able to help you.

And another really important part of the day was learning more about the Washington Policy Center and their Washington Votes service. A long time ago I linked to Washington Votes, but back then I didn't understand just how powerful their service is, and I can't believe that it is not used more. That's about to change.

Let's begin with communicating with your legislator. In a nutshell, you must build a rapport with your own state Reps and Senators. The guy who spoke about this reminded us that politicians are people too, which I know is easy to forget. How would you like it if the first time you ever met someone they were getting in your face and demanding things from you angrily? Granted, it's their job, but that doesn't matter. They are human first and most humans do not respond well to that kind of stimulation.

The speaker's advice was to make sure your first meeting with your legislator - and this should really be in person - should be friendly, low key, and just a simple introductory conversation. No demands, no anger. He said to compliment them, which will be hard to do with many of the straight up hard leftists in our state legislature, but he had a great suggestion for this as well. One fantastic method of complimenting, especially a politician, is to ask them questions. This serves two purposes. First, you make them feel good because you are deferring to them and asking for their wisdom (yuck), and second, you are now in a position to hear how they think in general, and what they think about specific issues. It really is brilliant. So even if you know everything, just go in with your sweetest smile, introduce yourself and your family (if you bring them), tell them something you are concerned about, and ask them to explain the issue or the proposed solutions to you.

Oh, and if you have kids, bring them! Ask for a tour and introduce your kids. This is great because it will not only be a great civics lesson for your children, but they provide a nice cover for you to pretend like you're only there for that reason. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but it's a pretty good idea.

Basically, you want to make sure that you are building a relationship with the legislator and his or her staff. The staff are the gatekeepers and if they don't like you, you may have little to no impact on that legislator. That seems unfair, but that's life and we must learn to roll with it. So maybe the first few times you don't demand anything. You just get to know the whole office. Find out when their birthdays are and send birthday cards. Seriously. And you don't have to pretend to agree with them, that's the best part. As your conversations wear on, feel free to let them know you are conservative or whatever, but as you are so sweet and nice and have yet to angrily demand something from them, they will begin to see you as the "rational" or "normal" conservative (because constituents telling their legislators how they feel about important issues is now considered irrational by the left.) This is important as when it comes time for you to finally ask them to do something (i.e. vote a certain way, put forth an amendment, etc.) they will be much more inclined to listen to you because you were their friend first, and you're obviously not a wingnut like all those other anonymous angry conservatives that call and yell at the staff...

Make sense? Good. If you have any questions or suggestions on this, leave them in the comments and we can have a good discussion about it. Yes, this is basically manipulation, but if that is the only way that the politicians will listen to us, then I'm willing to do it. It also makes a lot of sense. The pols and their staff are just people too, and after getting yelled at all day by anonymous constituents, I would probably stop listening to them as well. So, are you in?

***

Next up is the Washington Policy Center and Washington Votes. The policy center's mission is to improve lives with market solutions. They are a think tank and research outfit and they do amazing work. With all of the focus shifting (as I rightly think it should) to state's rights and the 10th Amendment, we need to start paying attention to what's happening in Olympia, not just D.C. Put the policy center's website on your favorites and check out their reports. You can also get on the mailing list and you will receive press releases on important issues. For instance, this morning I received information about the results of a study that just came out about jobs in WA. It was specifically about the potential loss of jobs from the taxes that the Democrats' are thinking of implementing (now that they've run the budget into the ground year after year.) Depending on the extent of the new taxes proposed by Gregiore and company, we could be looking at anywhere from 15,000 to almost 40,000 job losses in Washington State.

Check them out and get on their mailing list. We need to take Olympia back as well as D.C.

Lastly, let's look at Washington Votes. From their website:
WashingtonVotes.org provides plain-English analysis for all bills, substitutes and amendments proposed in the Washington Legislature.

The speaker from Washington Policy Center/Washington Votes demoed the Washington Votes website and it's incredible. I seriously can't believe that, though I have linked to it before, I never understood how powerful it is. He showed us how difficult the state government's website is to use to search for bills because half the time we don't know what the bill number is yet, and if you don't know, it's pretty impossible to find it. And most annoying is that the state's website only searches by title, not the text of the bill. The speaker highlighted this shortcoming by searching for the keyword, "taxes," and only 28 out of over 3,000 bills came back in the search. Do you really believe that a bunch of liberals only submitted 28 bills that have to do with taxes? No.

Washington Votes is for real people, not lawyers. The staff there comb through every single bill that gets submitted every year, and provide analysis that everyone can understand. They figure out the keywords that would most likely get people to that bill and so when he searched "taxes" again at the Washington Votes site, he got over 300 bills. That still seems low, but at least you can see now that it is much more honest and comprehensive than the government website. The best thing about the WA Votes is that you can set up email alerts on specific bills and you will only get an email if the bill is moving through the process. For instance, if you want to follow the progress of the state sovereignty resolution, you would set up the email alert, and you would know if a committee hearing had been scheduled and you would be able to actually go testify in support of it!

I hope all of this helps you. I know it has helped me greatly. The three main points, in summary, are:
1. Build rapport with your state legislators and their staff (and federal for that matter)
2. Find out how to testify at committee hearings
3. Check out Washington Votes to learn about all the bills these people want to impose on you

DO IT!!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Criminals for Gun Control

Twice in one day. I just couldn't help linking to this video posted at iOwnTheWorld, even though I already linked to them today. This video is just. too. good.


FBI investigates one of Norm Dicks' most generous donors

I'm telling you, this is the year to kick that bum out!! Get him out and let's get someone who actually believes in the words "public servant" in to serve the 6th district!

Via the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group:
Congressman Norm Dicks has never been shy about accepting campaign donations from favor seekers.

Now the FBI is investigating one of Dicks' most generous donors " the powerhouse lobbying firm PMA Group.

Reality check for anti-gun crowd

Pssst... gun control proponents... this is what happens when you stop allowing people to defend themselves. (H/T: iOwnTheWorld)
Miss Klass, a model for Marks & Spencer and a former singer with the pop group Hear’Say, was in her kitchen in the early hours of Friday when she saw two teenagers behaving suspiciously in her garden.

The youths approached the kitchen window, before attempting to break into her garden shed, prompting Miss Klass to wave a kitchen knife to scare them away.

Miss Klass, 31, who was alone in her house in Potters Bar, Herts, with her two-year-old daughter, Ava, called the police. When they arrived at her house they informed her that she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon” – even in her own home – was illegal.

Now I'm sure the anti-gun folks will say that they only want to rid the world of those scary, dangerous weapons like guns. But let's just think like rational, intelligent adults for a moment please. That's where it all starts. England first just implemented gun control laws, for "safety." Then they banned them all together. Now they've started to say that you can't even defend yourself with a knife or any other tool that might possibly harm the person who is trying to rape and murder you.

Remember Germany back around, oh say pre-World War II? Well, the government in power before Hitler enacted some gun control laws including required registration and permitting. (Sound familiar?) When the Nazi's came into power they enacted tougher, stricter gun control laws, one of which was only allowing Nazi's and their friends to carry guns. It also became illegal for Jews in particular to have anything to do with firearms. Eventually the Nazi's also made it illegal for Jews to own or carry knives.

Now, if anti-gunners were to read that history today, they would probably say that could never happen in a democracy. But it's happening in England right now, so how about that?

Always remember, no one, I repeat, NO ONE has the right to tell you that you cannot defend your body or your property from attack. My recommendation to that woman in England, and every other person that believes in the inherent right to self defense needs to make a stand NOW. Otherwise England will soon cross into a lawless and hellish nightmare of a country. Can you imagine how emboldened the criminals in England must feel? And it's not only the run of the mill criminals, but they have a rapidly growing homegrown terrorism problem to deal with as well.

Let this be a lesson to us here in the USA. Keep fighting for your right to keep and bear arms, and don't even think about compromising little bits here and there. If we do, we are only disarming ourselves.