Commonweal Institute’s New Website

Take a look at Commonweal Institute’s new website. And get involved.

The Commonweal Institute is an alliance of independent thinkers leading the public in civic dialogue about our shared values as Americans and a progressive approach to problem-solving. We envision a society in which the advancement of human rights, civil liberties, participatory democracy, justice, strong and caring communities, and a more secure and sustainable future coexist with responsible global capitalism. Our goal is to engage all segments of society in the discovery and creation of a new harmony between private interests and the common good.

Also, the Commonweal Institute blog.

Think Tanks Are Cool – DMI

I love progressive think tanks. I think building strong think tanks is a hugely important component of a “progressive infrastructure” for fighting back against the right. Progressive think tanks are where many of our ideas could be developed and communicated to the public. They are where many of the op-ed writers, book authors, opinion columnists, radio and TV guests could be employed. And they are where major reports and studies can be researched and written.
The blogs, of course, are a virtual think tank, where ideas are generated, discussed, revised and communicated at a very rapid pace.
You know that I have been working for some time to get the Commonweal Institute started. I am also on the Netroots Advisory Council of the Drum Major Institute (DMI).
The Drum Major Institute writes that they are a “progressive public policy for social and economic fairness.”

DMI’s approach is unwavering: We do not issue reports to see our name in print or hold forums for the sake of mere talk. We seek to change policy by conducting research into overlooked, but important social and economic issues, by leveraging our strategic relationships to engage policymakers and opinion leaders in our work, and by offering platforms to amplify the ideas of those who are working for social and economic fairness.

The Drum Major Institute is having a benefit on June 21. DMI’s Elana Levin writes, DMI Annual Benefit: it’s only the coolest fundraiser of the year,

DMI’s Annual Benefit is just weeks away. On June 21st at Cipriani on 23rd street the Drum Major Institute and all of our supporters will be coming together for the big annual event that’s key to keeping a leading edge think tank growing and going strong.

Tom Watson writes,

How cool is the DMI benefit?
Professor Cornell West of Harvard – the Cornell West will be presenting honoree Tavis Smiley with the Drum Major for Justice Award for being an outstanding voice for social change in the news media and beyond. You probably know Mr. Smiley from his nightly talk show on PBS and the best selling progressive book “The Covenant with Black America.” [click through for links]

Click through to these posts for details.

What Does The Public Hear?

I have a post up at the brand-new Commonweal Institute Blog. The post is titled What Does The Public Hear?
A CNN poll this week shows that, as CNN worded it,

“…most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, “government is not the answer to our problems — government is the problem.”

From the CNN story:

“Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country’s problems.”

Let me ask a different question: How many Americans do you think have been exposed to the other side of the story? We hear, over and over, that government is bad, that it is inefficient, that it sucks up our tax dollars and harms the economy, that it messes up everything it gets involved in, and negative point after negative point. And we hear, over and over, that regulation of business is bad and “private sector solutions” are good, efficient, and are exposed to a hundred other positive images and messages along those lines.

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Eulogy for Leonard Salle

Eulogy for Leonard Salle, delivered May 27:

“Progressive Infrastructure” – Leonard would have wanted me to start with that. That’s what he said – all the time.
I’m Dave Johnson, a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute. Kate asked me to talk about what the Commonweal Institute is, and the contribution Leonard made to the country’s political environment.
Before the Commonweal Institute there was a smaller think tank, grinding away, doing the intellectual work developing a vision for a new approach to progressive politics. That was what I call the Kate and Leonard Institute.
Kate and Leonard saw something that for some reason so many on the progressive side of politics didn’t see – that the conservatives were doing something right. Excuse the pun – Leonard would.
They saw that conservatives were marketing what President Bush would call “conservativitiyism,” and doing it very well. In fact, everywhere you go, you hear the basic marketing message repeated that conservatives are good, and liberals are bad.

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Leonard Salle, R.I.P.

Update – I will post Leonard’s official obituary tomorrow, along with this story from the newspaper. It will also appear at the Commonweal Institute tomorrow.
Think tank co-founder loved ideas,

Leonard M. Salle, a retired civil engineer and co-founder and president of Commonweal Institute, died May 5 at Stanford Hospital of complications from coronary bypass surgery. Mr. Salle was 69.

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What People Mean When They Criticize “The Democrats”

At MyDD there is an excellent post on a right-wing corporatist organization called ALEC: Exposing The Machinery Of The Corporate Right,

Up in Wyoming, the local Casper Star-Tribune decided to take a look at the machinery that pushes conservative laws in the state’s legislature. Many here at MyDD may be well aware of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate-funded rightist law-writing factory that works behind the scenes to cram their agenda on the states. But I have a feeling it’s a group that isn’t discussed very often among readers of the Star-Tribune (or, for that matter, any local paper outside of Washington, DC). That’s why their coverage of ALEC is so important.

Please go read the post.
Well I left a comment, based on a line in the post. Readers here might be familiar with this, but repetition works, and this can’t be said often enough:

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