Tuesday, July 28, 2009

With a disingenuous right-wing media, could the "teabagger town hall" possibly be a good idea?

Yesterday, I attended the town hall put on by Senator Claire McCaskill's district director in response to protests outside of McCaskill's Delmar office by right-wing teabaggers. Apparently, last week a bunch of childish protesters were angry that McCaskill's staff didn't immediately hold a meeting with them and starting banging on the office's windows and ringing the buzzer. In fact, they also were ringing the buzzer of and annoying a nearby business that had nothing to do with McCaskill, which led to them being "flipped off" by one of the people who worked in the other business. The teabaggers of course had a fit. But McCaskill's staff decided to hold a town hall meeting with the protestors anyway, saying that, "it is our policy to meet with any protesting group." My question is, "Could this possibly be a good idea?" And my answer: "yes, it could possibly be a good idea in some alternate universe, but not in the world we actually live in."

First I should note that it is obvious why one might initially think that this is a good idea. Senator McCaskill is showing that she is open to listening to other points of view, a good indication that she is a deliberate and thoughtful politician. It would be hard to imagine Bush or Talent holding a town hall specifically for their opponents to share their perspectives with the public. I grant that McCaskill's heart was in the right place for being open to opposing opinions.

On the other hand, consider the consequences of the town hall. Basically, all of the right-wing crazies were allowed to broadcast their message completely unfiltered to tens of thousands of people through the local media. The event was set up so that the teabaggers got to speak their minds for the first hour, and then the debate was opened up to people who support health care reform. Media outlets that covered the event focused exclusively on the messages of the teabaggers, and mostly left before the final hour of "mixed" testimony. The teabaggers were granted validity for their thuggish tactics like banging on windows and doors, and were able to trumpet across the country (including on fox news national) how they had "taken over" a townhall. In other words, McCaskill and her staff allowed the teabaggers, who acted like bullies throughout the entire process, to broadcast their opposition to McCaskill's position to tens of thousands of people with virtually no response!

Yeah, yeah, you might say. Such is the price of doing the right thing. McCaskill and health care took a public relations hit, but at least she did the right thing. But I'm not so sure about this. We can differentiate two different things McCaskill might have hoped to accomplish with her town hall: (1) actually listening to what the teabaggers had to say, and (2) showing people that she was listening to what teabaggers had to say.

(1) was certainly accomplished with the town hall, but (1) could be accomplished in a lot of different ways. Teabaggers could have called McCaskill's office, tweeted her, made their little video messages, or whatever. All of these could have equally informed McCaskill of their reasons for opposing health care reform. Since McCaskill could have learned about their opinion through other means, it seems like the reason for holding a town hall must clearly have at least something to do with (2) showing people that she is listening.

However, all you have to do is look at the actual coverage in the right-wing media to see what an utter failure the event was for McCaskill if she was trying to accomplish (2). Check out the right-wing coverage:

From Sharp Elbows:
The Townhall Meeting Was So Well Attended They Had To Move From A Conference Room To The Cafeteria. Hundreds Turned Out, Mostly To Voice Their Opposition To Senator McCaskill's Position On Cap And Trade And HealthCare Reform. I Almost Felt Sorry For McCaskill's Rep. There Was A 30 Person Deep Line To Speak. Almost Everyone Who Spoke Was opposed To The Senator's Positions And They Were Fired Up. It Was Like A Firing Squad. But There Were Those In Attendance That Support The Senator's Position. A Group Called Repower America Was There To Push The Cap And Tax Bill. But They Were Heavily Out Numbered.
Gateway Pundit:
Missouri Senator Claire "ACORN" McCaskill arranged for her district director, Michelle Sherod to meet with constituents (after calling the cops on them two weeks ago) at a town hall meeting on Monday night at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis. Americans for Prosperity's Carl Bearden moderated the meeting and Ms Sherod took questions for the Senator.

They were expecting around 100-150 people... Hundreds showed up.
(There was one estimate that 1,000 were in attendance.)
And of course Fox Nation's headline:

Tea Party Protest Erupts During Senator's Town Hall!

Notice anything missing from these reports? Like, maybe, any mention whatsoever that McCaskill had specifically arranged to meet with protesters? All of the right-wing news sources are presenting this story as if the entire state of Missouri is hoppin' mad at McCaskill and this was just your regular town hall meeting that was crashed by an angry hoard of teabaggers. In other words, they give McCaskill no credit whatsoever for agreeing to meet with them; rather, they pretend like it was their sheer power in numbers that overtook the meeting.

In other words, (2) was a complete FAIL as well. All protesters, and even most people who haven't made up their mind, are going to hear about this event is that a big angry mob crashed a McCaskill town hall. They're not going to hear that McCaskill actually set the meeting up to better listen to concerns. McCaskill does not really appear like she was listening; rather, it appears that she held a town hall that was stormed by a massive uprising of "patriotic citizens."

Given that (1) could have been accomplished in many ways, and (2) was not accomplished, I'd have to say that the costs are too high to justify this event. There is no reason to give free media coverage to a bunch of people who will not give you any credit for meeting with them anyway and who will call you a "coward" the very next day. I appreciate the effort to understand both sides of the issue, but let's do so in a responsible way that doesn't allow the opposition to saturate the media with outright lies and misinformation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

St. Louis Activist events for July 27 - Aug 2

This Week's Events:

Monday, July 27, All hands on deck! Senator Claire McCaskill's district director has arranged a town hall meeting at the request of a group called Americans for Prosperity, composed primarily of the "tea baggers." It is extremely important that we have progressive people in attendance or else the conversation will be dominated by right-wingers pressuring McCaskill to kill health care reform, reject climate change legislation, and (knowing them) creating a panel to investigate Obama's birth certificate. We need to be there to remind McCaskill who voted her in, and to tell her that we need real health care reform and a strong climate change bill! The meeting is from 7 to 8 PM at Forest Park Community College at 5600 Oakland, in the Highlander Lounge of the student center.

Tuesday, July 28, is a national call-in day for health care reform, sponsored by the as well as AFL-CIO and Health Care for America Now. We need health care reform to save lives! Click here for more details.

Also Tuesday, there will be a blood drive at the Maryville Centre, 645 Maryville Centre, from 7 AM to 1 PM. Donors get a free T-shirt and are entered into a raffle for a $25 gas card.

Also Tuesday, there will be a meet and greet for Matt Simmons at the St. Peters firefighter's hall, 115, McMenamy Rd. from 5 to 8 PM. Simmons is a great candidate running against the crazy Cynthis Davis, the woman who has embarrased Missouri by saying, "hunger is a positive motivator," and by supporting the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory, so any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated!

Also Tuesday, there will be a rally in Carbondale, IL in support of Leondard Peltier, an activist who has been imprisoned for over 30 years under suspicious circumstances (to say the least). The rally will be at the Town Square Pavillion on S. Illinois Avenue, from 6 to 7 PM.

Also, Tuesday is "Pedal for a Pint" night at Schlafly Bottleworks, 1 Schlafly Place, where bikers will recieve a free brew voucher good at a number of area locations.

Also Tuesday is the monthly installment of Drinks and Mortar, a get together for architecture enthusiasts, at Riley's (3458 Arsenal). In addition to the lively conversation, there's a $5 large pizza special that night.

Wednesday, July 29, social workers and the citizens they serve will join hands for a rally to protest proposals to cut over 25 million dollars from the budgets of the Department of Social Services and Health and Senior Services. The proposed cuts could mean further job losses as well as cuts to vital programs that help Missouri’s most vulnerable during hard times such as these. The rally will be at 12 noon at the South Broadway Social Services office, 6821 S. Broadway, St. Louis, Mo 63111.

Also Wednesday, at 7 PM at the U-City Library, there will be a community forum discussing the new proposed sales tax increase for University City.

Thursday, July 30, the Chamberlain College of Nursing and Forest Park Hospital are having a blood drive at 6150 Oakland from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Also Thursday, Left Bank Book's new Community Forum group decided to join with the North Side Community Benefits Alliance in an upcomng listening project (related to Paul McKee's proposed development) and are about to begin organizing around issues of poverty. They will be having their next meeting at 6 PM at the Downtown location, 321 N. 10th Street.

Friday, July 31, the Big Ass Upcycle Exchange, where you can drop of supplies that will be reused by local artists, continues as part of the Big Ass Indie Art and Craft Show. They'll be accepting donations from 7 Pm Friday until 3 on Sunday.

Friday through Monday, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America is brining their "Save the Dream" tour to St. Louis, to help at-risk homeowners keep their homes. The event will be at the Ahaifetz Arena at SLU.

Saturday, Aug. 1. LiveFeed, a group that raises money for those in need and promotes hunger awareness, is having a Charity Garage Sale at their office at 1156 Kram, from 9 AM to 7 PM. Your donations are welcome.

Also Satruday, you can party with Planned Parenthood at Novak's (4121 Manchester Ave.), from 8 PM to midnight.

Sunday, Aug. 2, there will be a fundraiser for the proposed plan to bring a trolly to the Delmar Loop. The fundraiser will be at Cicero's, 6691 Delmar, starting at 7 PM.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Interesting St. Louis stories from the past week

(please add your own in the comments section)

A story on the community group that is asking for a Community Benefits Agreement from developer Paul McKee, who has been buying up land in North St. Louis and letting it deteriorate in hopes of a transformative project .

Another great RFT story from Aimee Levitt on Camp Kumquat, the WashU community garden.

Protestors blocked I-70 for a bit prior the the all star game protesting the lack of minority businesses hired for local public projects.

Don Calloway continues his series on being a freshman legislator in Jefferson City.

MO Congressional Representative is gaining national attention for possibly being an even more crazy global warming denier than Oklahoma Senator Inhofe, and that's saying something! 

Cynthia Davis, the MO representative who infamously said that "hunger is a positive motivator" in defense of cutting after school food programs, also is one of the crazies who think that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.  Who would have thought!

Missourians Against the Death Penalty have their new summer newsletter out!

St. Louis Activist Events for July 20-25

This week's events:

Monday, July 20 is the last day to send a proposal for the 5th annual Educating for Change Curriculum Fair on Sept. 26.  This fair has great content (last year they had trainings on power analysis and the Ella Baker model of community organizing) and has been growing a lot.  They're accepting proposals for poster displays, resource tables, and workshops, and you can find the application form here (in the tan box with the heading 'Educating for Change Curriculum Fair"). 

Tuesday, July 21, the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust) is hosting "Music for the Mouth", a night of music to benefit the hungry.  Buying a ticket gets you free Dewey's pizza and a free pint of beer, and all proceeds benefit Operation Food Search!  The event goes from 6 to 11 PM.

Also Tuesday, a Palestine Working Group is meeting at the World Community Center (428 N. Skinker) to discuss how to organize around the current conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. The meeting will be at 6 PM.

Also Tuesday, is the July installment of St. Louis Green Drinks, a social gathering for people who care about the environment.  They'll be gathering at the Schlafly Bottleworks (7760 Southwest in Maplewood), at 6:30 to discuss education for sustainable development.

Also Tuesday, the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP) is starting a Backyard Movie series at their place at 3022A Cherokee Street.  The first movie will be "When You Get to Heaven," and director D.G.W. will be in attendance.  The movie will be showing from 8 to 11 PM; discount admission for bikers/skaters/walkers.

Wednesday, July 22, The Missouri History Museum (Lindell and DeBaliviere) is hosting "Conversations in Black and White," an evening of thought provoking theater exploring assumptions and identity.  The program goes from 5:30 to 8:30.

Also Wednesday, 17th Ward St. Louis will be hosting a workshop to discuss ideas for the new Chouteau Park at 7 PM at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club (4317 Vista Ave.).  

Also Wednesday, there will be a public viewing of CNN's broadcast of "Black in America 2" at the YWCA Metro St. Louis (3820 W. Pine Blvd).  The screening is from 7 to 10 PM.  Seating is limited, so please RSVP by sending an email to egray@ywcastlouis.org  or call 314-351-1115.  

Thursday, July 23, there will be an "Organized Labor Fundraiser for Mike Colona" at Friendly's Bar and Grill (3503 Roger Place) from 5 to 7 PM.

Also Thursday, MO/KS Friends of the People's Weekly World are hosting a discussion of "Cuba Today," by John Bachtell, the Illinois District Organizer for the Communist Party.  He will be presenting on his recent trip to Cuba at the World Community Center (438 N. Skinker) from 7 to 8:30 PM.  

Also Thursday, the Gay Men's Reading Group meets at Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid) at 7:30 to discuss the book "The Last of the Wine."

Friday, July 24, the first of a series of "Architecture Weekend Lectures" kicks off with a focus on the Modern Religious Architecture of St. Louis.  The tour starts at 911 Washington #170 at noon.  

Also Friday, UAW Local 136 is holding a rally outside of the Chrysler Assembly Plant in Fenton (the Bowles exit) to speak out for American Jobs.  Despite taking U.S. taypayer money and pledging to use the money in a "socially responsible manner", Chrysler has closed several U.S. plants, devestating local communities, while continuing to expand operations in Mexico.  The rally will start at 1 PM.

Saturday, July 25, the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition is hosting "Red Ball Rumble" a kickball tournament that raises money for foster and adopted children.  The tournament is from 9 AM to 4 PM in Fenton Park (1215 Larkin Williams Road).  The $400 per team fee gets you food, refreshments, raffle tickets, t-shirts and good karma.  

Also Saturday, Architecture Weekend continues with a tour of two modern churches in Kirkwood.  Meetup is at 100 East Adams at 10 AM.  

Also Saturday, the fair trade store Plowsharing Crafts will be hosting a story time for children from 11 AM to noon at the Delmar store (6271 Delmar).  

Also Saturday, the Workers International League, Autonomy Alliance, and Gateway Greens are gathering to remember the General Strike of 1877, an important moment in workers' history.  The gathering will be from noon to 5 PM at the Community Arts and Media Project building (3022A Cherokee).

Ongoing, check out Greenspace, an outdoor art exhibit raising awareness of current environmental concerns, at the intersection of W. Kirkham Ave. and N. Gore Ave. 

Have a fun and meaningful week,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for July 13-19

This week's events:

Monday, July 13, The Gateway Green Alliance, the Instead of War Coalition, and other groups are hosting the "Caravan for Cuba" as they come through town.  Unfortunately, online details are a little sparse, but I know that there will be presentations about both the medical and  agricultural setups in Cuba.  The event starts goes from 5:30 to 10 PM at the Community Arts and Media Project (3026 Cherokee).  UPDATE: For additional details and full schedule, see comment below.

Tuesday, July 14, The Communication Workers of America (CWA) will be protesting outside of AT&T in downtown, asking AT&T to start bargaining fairly over their contracts.  The rally will be at 909 Chestnut from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.  If you can't make the lunchtime event, CWA will also be passing out handbills before the All Star Game from 5:30 to 7 PM.  The meetup location is either outside Busch Stadium across from the Musial statue or at One AT&T Center: check this page for final details.

Also Tuesday, Women in Black, a group that holds silent vigils against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, will be holding a vigil outside the St. Louis Bread Company in the Loop, from 11:3o to 1 PM.

Also Tuesday,  Greenpeace will also be sending a message at the All Star Game, asking President Obama to support strong action to prevent global warming.  They'll be meeting at 5:30 at the player's entrance to Busch Stadium, at the intersection of Broadway and Poplar.

Also Tuesday, Amnesty International of St. Louis has their monthly meeting at Bethel Lutheran Church, 7001 Forsyth, from 7 to 8:30 PM.

Wednesday, July 15, a new coalition is forming in St. Louis called the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance, which is working to increase investment in low-income and minority communities through citizen participation in the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) processes.  They will be having a meeting from 10 AM to noon at the Equal Housing Opportunity Council, 1027 South Vandeventer.  For more information, contact Leon Parker at 314-534-5800 ext 26 or lparker@ehoc-stl.org .

Also Wednesday, Jobs with Justice is gathering in support of the Employee Free Choice Act outside of Karl Rove's $1,000 a plate dinner at the schmancy pants St. Louis Club in Clayton, 7701 Forsyth (on the corner with Hanley).  The rally is from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Also Wednesday, the Diabetes Association is holding a Step Out STL kickoff event from 6 to 9 PM at the Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th Blvd.  

Thursday, July 16, Show Me Your Solutions is hosting a forum with former Senator Jack Warner (R-VI) to discuss National Security, Energy, and Climate Change.  The forum will be from 10:30 AM to noon at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 North Warson Road.

Also Thursday, FUEL is hosting a Whitaker Urban Evening Series event to showcase recent area revitalization success in North City.  The event is from 6:30 to 9: 30 at St. Louis Place Park.

Also Thursday, the documentary "On Borrowed Time," which focuses on the life and case of death row inmate Reginald Clemons, will be showing at the Missouri History Museum from 7 to 9 PM.

Also Thursday, Katie Krueger will be reading from her latest book Give with Gratitude: Lessons Learned Listening to West Africa at Velocity Cafe (286 DeBaliviere) from 7 to 9 PM.

Also Thursday, Left Bank Books' Lesbian Reading Group will be meeting at the 399 N. Euclid Location to discuss Written on the Body starting at 7:30.

Also Thursday, the Webster Film series screens A Constant Forge, a documentary about iconoclast director John Cassavetes, at 8 PM at the Moore Auditorium, 470 East Lockwood.

Friday, July 17, the Peace Economy Project is holding their monthly BBQ (with vegetarian options) at Grace United Methodist, 6199 Waterman, from 5:30 to 7 PM.  Lori Read of the American Friends Service Committee will be speaking about how US foreign military aid is contributing to global poverty and violence.

Saturday, July 18, Vespa St. Louis is holding a fundraiser for a local activist and friend MJ who has been having medical difficulties.  Check out the details here.

Also Saturday, the Catholic Action Network is holding a Celebration of Mary of Magdala at the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (1077 S. Newstead) at 9 AM.

Also Saturday, Madeline Coburn will be in town to discuss her book A Pastor's Life Behind Bars, a story of a women who lived on Death Row for 27 years before being pardoned.  She'll be speaking  and signing books at the Vaughn Cultural Center, 3701 Grandel, from 2 to 4 PM.

Also Saturday, NARAL is holding a Clinic Escort Training at 1210 S. Vandeventer from 2 to 4 PM.

Also Saturday, the Diversity Arts Program is holding an Open Mic and Reception at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar) from 7 to 9 PM.

Also Saturday, Burners without Borders and Operation Brightside are teaming up for a benefit at the Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester, from 8 PM to 2:30 AM

Sunday, July 19, and every Sunday, there will be a vigil recognizing the costs of the U.S. wars at St. Francis Xavier Church on the corner of Grand and Lindell, from 7 to 7:30 PM.

Monday, July 6, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for July 6 - 12

This week's events:

Monday, July 6, the Instead of War Coalition has their monthly meeting at the World Community Center on 438 N. Skinker at 7 PM.

Tuesday, July 7, There will be a vegetarian cooking class at Whole Foods Market at 1601 Brentwood at 6 PM. Cost is $25. To find out more, check out the listing on the Sauce Magazine Calendar.

Also Tuesday, Drinking Liberally St. Louis County will be meeting at Mike Duffy's, 124 W. Jefferson in Kirkwood, from 7 to 9 PM.

Wednesday, July 8, the Missouri Botanical Garden is leading a discussion of how human life depends on plants and animals in the environment at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at 11 AM. The discussion is free for MOBOT members. For directions to the house go here and for more information, check out the listing on the Sauce Magazine

Also Wednesday, the Karen House Youth Group is looking for help cooking meals for homeless women and children. They meet at the St. Ann Pavillion and cook until around 6:45. Find our more here.

Also Wednesday,
Citizens for Modern Transit are hosting an Open House to discuss he proposed idea of having a trolley that travels between Forest Park and the Delmar Loop. The discussion will be at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar) from 4 to 7 PM. There will be two formal presentations at 4:30 and 6 PM.

Thursday, July 9
, MoveOn is holding rallies outside of Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond's office to make sure that the Public Option is included in any Health Care Reform deal. The rally is at noon at her office at 5850A Delmar. You can RSVP for the McCaskill event here and for the Bond event here.

Also Thursday, Shaw Nature Reserve is holding a Native Plant School from 1 to 4 PM. Cost is $12 and you can get directions to the Reserve here.

Also Thursday
, Left Bank Books is holding a planning event called a "democratic deliberation" on the topic of Poverty in St. Louis at 6 PM. The event will be a planning meeting for a community forum on poverty that the store will be hosting in the fall, which aims to create a comprehensive social plan to address poverty. The meeting will be at the downtown location at 321 N. 10th Street.

Also Thursday,
the July City Affair will feature a tour of the historic neighborhood of St. Louis Place by Michael Allen, Assistant Director of the Landmarks Association. They'll be meeting at 2100 St. Louis Avenue at 7 PM.

Also Thursday
is the "Independence Edition" of Drinking Liberally St. Louis City from 7 to 10 PM at the Premium Lounge (4199 Manchester).

Friday, July 10
features the opening of a couple interesting art exhibits. "Descent" at the St. Louis Art Museum is an examination of an urban environment "seemingly forever under construction." And the exhibit "Madagascar" from National Geographic nature photographer Frans Lanting at the Missouri Botanical Garden highlights some of the research and conservation efforts on the island.

Saturday, July 11,
The worker owned and operated Black Bear Bakery (2639 Cherokee) is hosting their monthly KDHX Brunch Benefit fundraiser from 9 AM to 2 PM. On the men is pancakes, french toast, breakfast potatoes, fruits, garden greens and much, much more!

is also the date of the Bastille Day celebration in Soulard Park (Lafayette Ave. and S. 9th St). Livefeed will be there on Saturday so some of the proceeds will help benefit children in need.

Also Saturday, Organizing for America is holding a phonebank to collect declarations of support for Obama's health care plan. The phone bank will be from 10 AM to 1 PM at the St. Louis Bread Co at 10312 Manchester in Kirkwood.

Also Saturday, there will be a fundraiser for the St. Louis Freedom School at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar) starting at 6 PM. Looks pretty fancy, so you might want to check the page for more details.

Also Saturday, Growing American Youth, a group dedicated to "Supporting and empowering gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth throughout the Metro St. Louis Area," is having a prom for LGBTQ youth, age 21 and under, from 8 PM to midnight at the City Museum.

Sunday, July 12
, at "All Star Sunday," at the Lee Auditorium of the Missouri History Museum you can hear about Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broek the color barrier in Major Leage Baseball. This part of the program begins at 2:30 in the Lee Auditorium.

Have a fun and meaningful week,