Publications & Talks

NICHOLS: You are the Commander in Chief

April 2, 2009

Location:
Pyle Center, Madison, Wisconsin

John Nichols speaks at the April 2, 2009, teach-in, "You are the Commander in Chief." This event was one of a series of five events launching Wisconsin"s National Guard campaign. See: http://WI.BringtheGuardHome.org

http://vimeo.com/5445662

John Nichols says "You are the Commander in Chief" from Liberty Tree on Vimeo.

SCOTCH & BLACK: Restoring the Rule of Law Where it Matters Most

April 2, 2009
Benson Scotch

University of Wisconsin Law School, Lubar Commons

Available for listening online here.

The new debate over war powers, defense policy, and the National Guard

Benson Scotch appeared at the University of Wisconsin Law School on April 2, 2009, together with special guest State Representative Spencer Black, lead sponsor of WI National Guard federalization review legislation

Additional Information: 

For the original recording, see http://law.wisc.edu/media/item/lubar_4_2w.mp3

Manski: From Liberty to Empire -- The Demise of American Defense

April 1, 2009
Ben Manski

All you have to do is remember that anti-imperialism is only another name for old-fashioned Americanism, and all will be clear to you. An American who has a settled body of convictions . . . who with his inherited ideas has an inherited courage, an inherited love of equality and justice . . . why, he is a natural born anti-imperialist, and it is simply his Americanism that makes him think and act as he does . . . .
~ New York Evening Post, May 3, 1902

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the editor of the Liberty Tree Journal.

NICHOLS, MCCHESNEY: The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers

March 18, 2009
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney

reprinted with permission from The Nation

Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

Additional Information: 

Read the Original article.

John Nichols is president of the Board of Directors of the Liberty Tree Foundation. Robert McChesney is a member of Liberty Tree's Board of Advisors. Together with Josh Silver, they cofounded the media reform organization, Free Press.

NICHOLS, MCCHESNEY: The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers

March 18, 2009
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney

reprinted with permission from The Nation

Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

Additional Information: 

Read the Original article

John Nichols is president of the Board of Directors of the Liberty Tree Foundation. Robert McChesney is a member of Liberty Tree's Board of Advisors. Together with Josh Silver, they cofounded the media reform organization, Free Press.

COLERIDGE: Keeping Public Assets Public

March 13, 2009
Greg Coleridge
Reprinted from By What Authority?

The dominant culture does not look kindly on most "public" systems. From housing to hospitals, schools to sewers, parks to prisons, or water to welfare, publicly owned or run systems are frequently portrayed as inefficient, ineffective, expensive, and/or dangerous. "Public" is dark, drab, cold, and old.

The word "private," by contrast, brings forth images of modern, clean, efficient, cheap, and safe. The corporate media, think tanks, and many elected officials perpetually tout the supposed benefits of "private" societal institutions.

But what is "public" and "private" when applied to government and economy? Are existing municipally operated systems best kept under public control or should they be "privatized"?

Additional Information: 

This article was written by Greg Coleridge of the Program on Corporations Law and Democracy for their newsletter, By What Authority?
See it in its original here: http://www.poclad.org/?pg=By_What_Authority&show=b090301.txt

MARYLAND ASSEMBLY: Testimony on National Guard

March 4, 2009

Location:
Maryland General Assembly, Annapolis, Maryland

The Maryland Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on SB 503 on March 4, and the House Health and Government Operations Committee held a hearing on HB 907 March 11. Click below to read testimony that was presented at these hearings.

Introductory Overview Testimony:
Steve Lane

Legal Testimony:
Ben Scotch
Jim Klimaski

Additional Information: 

PowerShift 2009 - Democratizing Our Universities to Confront Climate Change

March 1, 2009

PowerShift 2009 - Democratizing Our Universities to Confront Climate Change from Patrick St John on Vimeo.

"Democratizing Our Universities to Confront Climate Change" was a workshop held at PowerShift 2009, in Washington, DC. The speakers are Ben Manski of Liberty Tree and Meaghan Linick-Loughley and Atlee McFellin of New School University.

Additional Information: 

Conference website: http://www.powershift09.org/

Prospects for Participatory Democracy in the U.S.A

December 1, 2008
Ben Manski

Location: Barcelona, Spain Presented at the International Seminar on Participatory Democracy "Participatory Democracy. Political Actors and Social Movements" Abstract Diagnosing Democratic Collapse The U.S. political system suffers from a potentially fatal condition, a malady that can be diagnosed as "Democratic Collapse." The causes of this collapse are known: First, the consolidation of corporate control of the establishment political parties. Second, the sacrilegious enshrinement of corporations as persons under law, entitled to constitutional protections against citizens and governments.

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution in its Local Democracy and Democratizing Education program areas. He served as Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States from 2001 through 2004, and was active in the U.S. student, labor, peace, and environmental movements throughout the 1990s. Ben has a degree in law from the University of Wisconsin, and has written on the corporatization of higher education in the United States.

NICHOLS: Special Report on the 2008 Elections

November 5, 2008
John Nichols

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.
And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. ~ Barack Obama
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~ NOVEMBER 5, 2008 ~

Additional Information: 

John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.
He is also a member of the Liberty Tree Board of Directors.

MANSKI: The New U.S. Democracy Movement

October 9, 2008
Ben Manski

Around the world, Americans are often maligned as self-serving, ignorant, and conservative. Yet Americans are generally a progressive people.

Public opinion research tells the story:

  • Most Americans favor creating a federal universal single payer health care system.
  • Most support trade policies based not on property rights, but human rights, environmental protection, and popular sovereignty.
  • Majorities believe that the U.S. should not act as the “world’s police force,” and large majorities support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Americans, by and large, believe that access to quality education is a basic right, and are willing to raise taxes to pay for it.

Additional Information: 

This article was written for Movement Vision Lab. Click here for the original edition.
~ Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of Liberty Tree

Advancement Project: Several Battleground States Not Prepared for Voter Turnout

October 9, 2008

Our recent Action Alert on fighting shortages of volunteers and voting machines focuses on the election officials and administrators of particular states that have been identified as likely problems. Advancement Project has released a poignant study detailing the failures of 7 specific swing states that will not have adequate capacity in terms of voting machines and volunteers to meet the expected record voter turnout for the upcoming Presidential election. Their release of this information follows....

SEVERAL BATTLEGROUND STATES NOT PREPARED FOR VOTER TURNOUT

Additional Information: 

For more information, feel free to contact Sabrina Williams (202/728-9557 or 305/904-3960) or Tia Gordon (202/728-9557 or 202/906-0149)

Brennan Center for Justice: Voter Purges

September 30, 2008
Myrna Pérez

Voter suppression most often comes in the form of keeping voters from showing up at the polls or perhaps providing faulty information on how to process an absentee ballot, etc. A greater disenfranchisement might be the voters who dutifully present themselves at their polling place, only to be told that they have been removed from the voter rolls.

Additional Information: 

Myrna Pérez is counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, focusing on a variety of voting rights and election administration issues including the Brennan Center’s efforts to restore the vote to people with felony convictions. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Columbia Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Making Voting Work: An Analysis of Military and Overseas Citzen Voting

September 15, 2008

The most recent effort by Making Voting Work looks into perhaps the most tragic of uncounted voting demographics--troops overseas. Many states have offered excuses again and again about not being able to make the absentee ballot process work for due to failures in the military postal system. The most recent report of Military Overseas Voting Project.

GLOBAL GREENS: Sustainable Cities Declaration

May 4, 2008

We, the representatives of green parties from more than 80 countries at the Global Greens Congress 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, agree the following declaration for the development of sustainable cities.

Additional Information: 

For the original, see http://www.globalgreens.org/

Your Time Is Up, Mr. President -- the National Guard Is Coming Home

February 5, 2008
Karen Dolan and Ben Manski

Guess what, Mr. President? Your authority to keep state National Guard troops in Iraq has expired. So says a new bill introduced this week to the Vermont Legislature by Rep. Michael Fisher and Sen. Peter Shumlin. It is supported by 30 of their colleagues.

"It is clear that the mission that Congress authorized no longer exists," said Fisher. "Unless Congress grants a new authorization, the Vermont Guard should revert back to state control." The Vermont bill states:

Additional Information: 

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus. Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution.

Liberty Tree Panel at Claim Democracy Conference

November 1, 2007
Brandon Lacy Campos, David Cobb, and Patrick Barrett

Click here to view the video:

2007 Claim Democracy Conference

Measure T Bans Corporate Campaign Financing

September 3, 2007
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as “corporate personhood.”

Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.

By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of “municipal civil disobedience,” intentionally challenging “settled law.” But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.

Additional Information: 

See more articles from the Fall 2007 issue of Yes Magazine and learn about what other communities are doing to stand up to corporate power.
Learn more about Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County and Measure T.

We are on the offensive: Make the most of it!

December 31, 2006
Ben Manski

Manski responds to Independent Politics News' question, "How can progressives get off of the defensive in 2006?"

What a change from four years ago. We're finally off the defensive. Impeachment talk has moved from beer halls to the halls of Congress. Opposition to the war is widespread. Confidence in the federal government is at historic lows. And the diverse strands of the broad progressive movement have begun to come together toward common, not cross, purposes.

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. He was coordinator of the No Stolen Elections! campaign, and is a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

This article originally appeared in the Independent Politics News.

VIDEO: Building a Democracy Movement in the USA

December 28, 2006
Ben Manski, David Cobb, Juscha Robinson, and Pabitra Benjamin

Check out this short video from "BUILDING A DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES", a workshop by Liberty Tree Fellows Benjamin, Cobb, Manski, and Robinson, one of about 100 sessions at the 2006 Midwest Social Forum. The video is a production of On the Earth Productions, a media production company dedicated to informing the public about important ethical, environmental and political issues that affect our every-day lives.

Additional Information: 

To download the video, click here.

For information on the Midwest Social Forum, click here.

To check out On the Earth Productions, click here.

Campus Organizer's Guide to Democratizing Education

December 21, 2006
Eric Prindle

An organizing guide for students, faculty, staff, and community members interested in promoting democracy in higher education, and a higher education system in service to a democratic, inclusive, society.

Additional Information: 

Please download this 20-page pdf-format guide by clicking here.

The 2006 Mid-term Elections: Change or Continuity?

December 4, 2006
Patrick Barrett

Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution

ACS Paper: Preserving and Expanding the Right to Vote: Ranked-choice Voting

December 3, 2006
David Cobb, Patrick Barrett and Caleb Kleppner

In this American Constitution Society white paper, Liberty Tree Fellows Patrick Barrett and David Cobb join Caleb Kleppner of Election Solutions in making the case for ranked-choice voting.

Summary:

The most widely used voting system in the Unites States, plurality voting, allows for a candidate that the majority opposes to be elected. While perhaps the most notable example of this occurred in the Florida presidential election in 2000, this situation happens not only on the federal level but in state and local elections as well.

Additional Information: 

The Barrett, Cobb, Kleppner ACS white paper is located on the American Constitution Society website here.

Z Magazine interviews Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap about Measure T

December 2, 2006

Last June voters in Northern California’s Humboldt County approved a ballot initiative that banned non-local corporate money in elections. The referendum, dubbed Measure T, also rejected corporate personhood, the legal doctrine that grants corporations the same rights and protections as persons. Measure T’s passage represents the most explicit challenge to corporate “rights” and political power in the country at this time.

Video from the Local Democracy Convention

December 1, 2006

Want to know more about participatory budgeting? Taking on City Hall? Home rule? Rebuilding New Orleans? Municipal foreign policy? Ballot initiatives?

Interested in local democracy?

This footage from the 2006 Local Democracy Convention is for you! Short video clips are available for viewing on YouTube, and full length, edited DVDs documenting the major panels, keynote talk, and some workshops are available for order from Liberty Tree.

To order a DVD, please send a check for $10 (postage included) to Liberty Tree, P.O. Box 260217, Madison, Wisconsin 53726-0217.

Check out the following 3-8 minute video clips online:

Keynoter: Gar Alperovitz 05:57

Additional Information: 

Thank you to On the Earth Productions (Karen Chin, Todd Price, Ginger Price, Sarah Grace Turner), Brazen Video (Luciano), and WYOU Community Cable (Eric Allin) for their filming and editing help.

The Local Democracy Convention took place September 27-October 1, 2006, in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information on the convention, see http://www.LocalDemocracy.org

For more information on Liberty Tree's Local Democracy Program, click here.

Understanding Student Unionism: A Canadian Perspective

November 1, 2006
Evan Thornton at the Democratizing Education Convention, Madison, Wisconsin

To place the Canadian student movement in context, I want to start with a brief overview of the national affiliations on a typical Canadian campus, which I hope will help give an idea of the significant difference in the nature of the challenge faced by Canadian student organizers compared to their U.S. counterparts.

Faculty and Academic Staff:

Starting with teaching staff, the campus will typically have unionized Faculty Association that are affiliated nationally with the Canadian Association of University Teachers CAUT which represents 48,000 teachers, librarians, researchers and other academic professionals. In its own words CAUT is:

Additional Information: 

Evan Thornton is an associate of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, and director of University Watch. Thornton has three decades of experience in campus organizing, first as a student union organizer, then with labour, and most recently as director and editor of University Watch.

Uwatch.ca is an independently incorporated, non-profit donor-financed organisation largely run by volunteers committed to the vision that universities ought to be transparent institutions serving in the public interest. It is also intended as an umbrella organisation linking various stakeholders, including interested private citizens, community groups, students, student governments, agencies, think tanks, and so on.

Participatory Budgeting: From Porto Alegre, Brazil to the U.S.

September 1, 2006
Mike Menser and Juscha Robinson

Throughout the U.S. left, but in particular among those groups participating at the first U.S. Social Forum and the global justice movement more generally, “participatory democracy” is a phrase one encounters in all kinds of different movements and organizations, from anti-war meetings and environmental justice organizations, to direct action affinity groups, to community-sponsored agriculture outfits, international solidarity organizations and prison abolitionists. It is certainly a central feature of the solidarity economy.

Additional Information: 

Frequently Asked Questions about the AUMF, National Guard, and Guard recall

August 1, 2006
Benson Scotch, legal counsel to the Vermont authors

Q-1. Aren’t questions of war and peace exclusively within the province of the federal government?

A. In general, the Congress and the President share war powers under the Constitution. The states do have some powers with respect to their national guards, but Congress has whittled away at the scope of these powers, particularly after 1903, when The Dick Act was passed creating the rudiments of the present dual system of joint state and federal National Guards.