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Featured News National News PDA Raises The Roof--and Some Serious Money--in California
Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:17

PDA Raises The Roof--and Some Serious Money--in California

Written by  Mimi Kennedy, PDA National Advisory Board Chair
Shown in photo (left to right) Conor Boylan, Michael Lighty, Jim Hightower, Thom Hartmann, Tim Carpenter, Mimi Kennedy, John Nichols Shown in photo (left to right) Conor Boylan, Michael Lighty, Jim Hightower, Thom Hartmann, Tim Carpenter, Mimi Kennedy, John Nichols

As a PDA activist doing Inside/Outside strategy, I developed a relationship with my congressman, Brad Sherman. (I’ve since been redistricted to freshman Tony Cardenas. But I digress.) 

I also burrowed inside the Democratic party; I ran, and won, an Assembly district delegate spot at the 2012-13 California Democratic state conventions. So in 2012, I was at a hospitality suite reception given by Congressman Sherman, and there I met Syd and Linda Liebovitch.

The more we talked, the more the Liebovitches and I liked each other. She’s from a union family; he’s from people who worked hard for their money. I told Linda about PDA, and that, as Chair, I had annual fundraising duties. She said, “ I’ll help with that.”

This spring, Tim Carpenter said he and Conor Boylan were coming to California in early June. Could I have a fundraiser then? I called Linda. She’d said yes. She’d host With a venue--the Leibovitches own the old Marion Davies mansion in Beverly Hills (so, William Randolph Hearst, the arc of history bends towards justice!)--I began phoning around, and first called Suzi Dietz, producer of the one-night, sold-out Tony Kushner play that starred me, John Glover, Charlayne Woodard and Sally Field in 2004. It was PDA’s first LA fundraiser. The script, first published in The Nation in 2003, is still online. It’s a profound anti-war play--check it out: http://www.thenation.com/article/only-we-who-guard-mystery-shall-be-unhappy.

Suzi said she’d be a co-host. As did Lila Garrett, PDA Board member and host of Pacifica Radio/KPFK’s “Connect The Dots.” As did Jim Clarke, longtime ally with SoCAL Americans for Democratic Action and staffer for Mayor Villaraigosa. As did environmentalist Sara Nichols of The Bioneers. Actor James Cromwell, came on board. (He gave PDA our first $1000 check at our founding in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 2004.)

I asked Lily Tomlin, who’d recently e-mailed an offer to do more for PDA, to speak. She said yes. I remembered James Gandolfini telling me, when we parted after filming “In The Loop” that he’d “do some of this Democratic stuff”--he didn’t say “stuff” he used another word--if I asked him. I asked him. He checked out our website first. “Your organization looks terrific” he said--and agreed to co-host. Tim asked John Nichols, Jim Hightower, AND Thom Hartmann to fly in and speak. Yes, yes, and YES.

We had a jam-packed afternoon. Where Hearst and Davies had hanky-panked there rose a new PDA banner (thank you, Michael Lighty!) which is big enough to be a speakers’ backdrop but light enough to carry on long marches as needed!

Linda Leibovitch convened us and Jim Hightower introduced his longtime friend Lily Tomlin. The brilliant Lily made us laugh--then delivered an indelible image of her Detroit apartment building from her childhood, whose ethnic, economic, and physical diversity reminded her, she said, of the radically inclusive organizing of PDA. She ended with a stunning quote from nonviolent activist/feminist Barbara Demming:

With one hand we say to one who is angry, or to an oppressor, or to an unjust system, ‘Stop what you are doing. I refuse to honor the role you are choosing to play.  I refuse to obey you.  I refuse to cooperate with your demands.  I refuse to build the walls and the bombs.  I refuse to pay for the guns.  With this hand I will even interfere with the wrong you are doing.  I want to disrupt the easy pattern of your life.’ But then the advocate of nonviolence raises the other hand.  It is raised out-stretched – maybe with love and sympathy, maybe not – but always outstretched. With this hand we say, ‘I won’t let go of you or cast you out of the human race.  I have faith that you can make a better choice than you are making now, and I’ll be here when you are ready.  Like it or not, we are part of one another."

Jim Hightower rocked the crowd with wit and trenchant criticism of democracy’s decline under corporate personhood; Linda read a message from James Gandolfini, which he sent with a check because a wedding prevented him from joining us. Lila Garrett introduced John Nichols, her frequent guest on her radio show, and John summarized the rousing argument from his latest book “Dollarocracy.”

We’ve become a nation ruled less by laws or people than by MONEY, he said. And tinkering with little changes around the edges of a broken system will do little to prevent collapse. We need big, fundamental change that takes courage: constitutional amendments and big legislation. Every progressive step forward in the last hundred years has come from radical change: ending slavery, extending civil rights, extending the right to vote

I read a statement sent by Board member Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “PDA fills a niche that no-one else can fill.” Linda introduced her hero Thom Hartmann, who brilliantly surveyed the decline of the middle class from Reagan to the present. It’s deliberate destruction, he asserted, because unfettered capitalism can’t easily exploit an educated, economically stable, politically empowered populace. A torn rotator cuff didn’t slow him down one bit.

Tim Carpenter brought it home with his trademark brilliant flash-of-lightning review of PDA, its place in history, its Inside/Outside way of facilitating savvy political access for the burgeoning progressive movement coalescing in America’s 21st Century. He reminded us that nine years’ growth had culminated last month in 210 PDA letter drops, to members of congress. Our legislative agenda- the Robin Hood Tax, HR 676, Medicare For All, and the letter-pledge from Congress members Alan and Mark Takano to protect Social Security and Medicare--is increasingly recognized as the sane approach to restoring the nation’s physical and economic health.

Thanks to Russell Greene, who raised money and awareness at a separate event earlier in the day, and generously fed organizers at an after-party later; to Conor Boylan who, with CA Coordinators Dr. Bill Honigman and Judy Hess, lived under my roof for three days to give 24/7 help with last-minute tasks; to Andrea Miller and Kim Buchan, who provided back-up at all hours from afar; to Dan O’Neal, Allan Affeldt, and Tim’s siblings and in-laws, who flew in for the weekend; to Mrs. Carpenter, Barbara Considine, who did myriad tasks I didn’t even think to delegate; to Whitman Nichols Bottari, John’s daughter, who alleviated adult stress by gleefully performing increasingly daring flips off my swimming pool diving board.

Between the two fundraisers, PDA made $25,000. Radical inclusion was the strategy and massive affirmation was the result. My fellow PDA activists, know that we are supported, our work is admired, and our reputation is spreading.

-------

Letters to PDA from Rep. Raul Grijalva and James Gandolfini:

From Rep. Grijalva:

I can't be with you all in person, but I'm with PDA all the way and I'm giving

We're all involved because we know they do some of the most important organizing and advocacy work in the country.

Well, they need our help to keep doing it. I know I'm in. I hope you are too.

PDA fills a niche no other group can fill. They're working with progressive Democrats to move the whole party left, and that's exactly what this country needs. They combine smarts and passion in a way we need a lot more of in this country.

You and I both know how valuable PDA is, so I'm asking you to contribute and show just how valuable it really is to you. Please join me and many others tonight to help PDA keep doing its great work.

Peace,

Raul

Rep. Raul Grijalva

From James Gandolfini

I believe we have failed as generation. We have allowed things to go on the last 30 to 40 years on our watch that we should have seen earlier and worked harder to stop.

I am of that Italian peasant sensibility, instilled from my father: "Take care of the ones you love and are closest to. Do the right thing to others, and don't get involved with government or the boss. They are not your friend. They are not to be dealt with unless absolutely necessary."

But now it is necessary. So, I will help in any way I can and feel comfortable with. Please ask me to future events. I will get a $5000.00 dollar check to you guys if I can't get there.

James Gandolfini

--------

See video highlights here:

Lily Tomlin, http://youtu.be/C2JUkzTPupw

Jim Hightower, http://youtu.be/5VpewFm6XM4

John Nichols, http://youtu.be/MFfXyXinoks

Thom Hartmann, http://youtu.be/OTU3oqsIRxM

Tim Carpenter http://youtu.be/V8sxLqWRuHM


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    President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of