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Saul Alinsky has been called the "Father of Modern Radicalism" and "the original community organizer." He has written a number of books outlining his philosophy of activism. I am not familiar with all of his views, and I don't embrace all of those with which I am familiar. However, he captured me forever with his description of the difference between a leader and an organizer:

The leader goes on to build power to fulfill his desires, to hold and wield the power for purposes both social and personal. He wants power himself.

The organizer finds his goal in creation of power for others to use.

Whether they are grassroots, corporatists, or elitists, political candidates are inherently leaders. One way or the other, they seek to consolidate the power of others to fufill their desire to get elected and re-elected.


How do you feel about having a President that is (per Alinksy's definitions) more of an organizer than a leader?

30%23 votes
35%27 votes
34%26 votes

| 76 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 07:50 PM PDT

North Carolina's New Public Option

by Free Spirit

North Carolina recently became the 35th state to offer a high-risk insurance plan. According to its website, Inclusive Health "provides affordable, individual health insurance coverage for North Carolinians who do not have access to an employer health plan and face higher premiums due to a pre-existing medical condition. It will also offer coverage to individuals who are federally defined HIPAA eligibles or qualify due to loss of employment due to the effects of international trade under the Health Coverage Tax Credit."

Although the program established by the state government, the pool is a public/private mix. Inclusive Health is a non-profit agency overseen by a board appointed by the Governor's Office and the NC State Legislature. The board includes insurance company, medical, hospital, and consumer representatives. The agency has a $30 million annual budget funded by premiums, fees paid to the State by insurance companies, and money from the tobacco settlement fund.

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Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 04:37 PM PDT

Live Blogging Dean vs. Rove

by Free Spirit

OK, I will try to add more content later, but this is a diary for liveblogging the debate between Howard Dean and Karl Rove at DePauw University tonight, if someone can access the event. I can't get the link to work myself (so far), but here is the diary that has it:


Who won the debate?

62%27 votes
27%12 votes
4%2 votes
4%2 votes

| 43 votes | Vote | Results

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Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:55 AM PDT

Mothers Tell Your Daughters

by Free Spirit

Today is Women's Equality Day.

What? Didn't know that? Never heard of it?

You are not alone. Most people don't. Most people haven't.

Why is that, I wonder.

Last summer I ran into a young woman who had just graduated from law school. She was shocked to learn that American women did not get the right to vote until....

Do you know when? No?

You are not alone. Most people don't.

Why is that, I wonder.

Mothers, tell your daughters...


Did you know that today is Women's Equality Day?

19%16 votes
80%67 votes

| 83 votes | Vote | Results

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Last night the City Council of Durham, North Carolina, got a standing ovation after it adopted a resolution in support of marriage equality:


The City Council of the City of Durham endorses and supports the rights of same-sex couples to share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitments of civil marriage.

All you folks up in Maine, take note...

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Thu May 28, 2009 at 05:59 PM PDT

GIRL TALK! (with poll)

by Free Spirit

I recently learned that some legislation has been introduced that would establish a Presidential Commission on Women. This would be in addition to the White House Council on Women and Girls, which the Obama team established shortly after he took office. There is already a non-governmental organization, the National Association of Commissions for Women, which maybe somewhat redundant with the proposed commission.

I am active in my county's Women's Commission. In addition, my state legislature is revisiting the name, mission, and funding for my state's Council on Women. I am interested in sorting out some of these initiatives.  I have posted what I know on the flip and would appreciate any additional information or thoughts anyone might care to share....


What do you think?

12%6 votes
28%14 votes
36%18 votes
22%11 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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[With a hat tip, but no apologies, to Dr. Dean]

Reading through all the diaries and comments about torture, I am left with a lot of questions. There are some things I want to know...

I want to know if, during the four years Barack Obama served in the US Senate, he ever said that we were torturing people, or that he thought we were torturing people, or that we might be torturing people, or that we were not torturing people, or that he didn't think we were torturing people, or that he didn't know one way or the other.

I want to know if Barack Obama ever said anything that might clarify whether he bought into the parsing of waterboarding as torture and "aggressive interrogation techniques" as not torture.

I want to know...

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I have lost track all the things we can't do with the Gitmo detainees in order to shut the place down, and why exactly it is that we can't do them.  I have lost track of all the places we can't send them, and why we can't send them there. I have lost track of all the reasons that we have to keep Gitmo open for another year, keep hanging on, hanging on, because we can't figure out what to do with the Gitmo detainees.

I don't see anything complicated about what to do with the Gitmo detainees...

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My state legislature is about to consider a bill to implement a pilot program for the public financing of campaigns for local office.

This bill got me to pondering the potential downside of publicly financed elections, which I have not seen anyone else attempt to do. I asked myself the question: if you level the playing field in terms of campaign spending, what factors will determine the outcome of our elections?

Some possible answers on the flip...

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I have this thing about finishing what I've started, so I'm going to take advantage of this brief lull between election and inauguration to check this diary off of my to-do list.  It finishes a story that is now two years old. The first three parts are here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I did not visit the Senate to make a pitch for anything, just to raise awareness about the issue of electronic voting machines, but a number of aides asked for my perspective.

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In the excitement over this historic presidential race, a potentially historic aspect of this election for women in North Carolina was mostly overlooked.  There were a total of 14 women running statewide races in North Carolina this year:

Elizabeth Dole (R) vs. Kay Hagan (D) for the US Senate
Bev Perdue (D) for Governor
Janet Cowell (D) for State Treasurer
Beth Wood (D) for State Auditor
June Atkinson (D) for Superintendent of Public Instruction
Cherie Berry (R) vs. Mary Fant Donnan (D) for Labor Commissioner
Elaine Marshall (D) for Secretary of State
Suzanne Reynolds (D*) for State Supreme Court
Cheri Beasley (D*), Jewel Ann Farlow (R*), Kristin Ruth (D*), and Linda Stephens (D*) for State Court of Appeals

*Indicates party endorsement in a nonpartisan race.

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Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 07:42 AM PST

Early Voting Blowout in Durham NC

by Free Spirit

Durham County, North Carolina

Early Voting Start Date:  Thursday, October 16
Early Voting End Date:  Saturday, November 1
Number of Early Voting Locations:  7
Total Early Voting Days: 17
Total Early Voting Hours: 969.5

Same Day Voter Registration? Yes
Registered Voters as of October 10:  174,828 **CORRECTED**
Registered Voters as of November 1:  191,682
Increase in Voter Registration:  16,854 (+9.6%) **CORRECTED**

Record-breaking turnout figures on the flip...

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