A New Progressive Platform

This is a cycle we seem to be caught in. The Republicans get elected, and govern like a cross between a barbarian horde and a drunken fraternity. Then, the Democrats come in, and have to do the expensive and unpopular work of fixing the problems…which makes them unpopular, allowing a new Republican horde to ride into town like a panzer division on acid, and start the looting and pillaging anew.
As long as we are caught in this pattern, progressives /cannot/ win any lasting victories. There will only be occasional pauses in the downward spiral. How do we break out of this cycle? The answer, it seems to me, is big ideas. We have been so focused on repairing the damage that we haven’t done anything honestly worthwhile in a very long time. ObamaCare came close, but not really: like HillaryCare 20 years earlier, it was hobbled by its attempt to work within the existing paradigm instead of embracing the kind of genuine restructuring that might have genuinely changed things. So, we’re talking about New Deal, Great Society big. BIG.

So, here’s my Big Idea Platform. I’d like to know what the people think of it.

1) The Election Reform Act
This act will include public financing of elections, based on the understanding that any transfer of a thing of value to a public official or political campaign should be considered an attempt to bribe that official, and an end to partisan redistricting. There are robust, mature systems of public financing around the world available for study and adaptation. It is long past time to end the system of legalized bribery that has captured the US government and rendered it unresponsive to the needs of the general population. Likewise, all redistricting shall be done by non-partisan commissions.

2) An “Apollo Program” for clean energy.
It will be based on solar, wind, and wave power. Such a platform shall include a new energy grid that harnesses distributed micropower generation and AI management, and a new generation of nuclear reactors capable of using existing stocks of nuclear waste as fuel. This will simultaneously reduce carbon and heavy metals pollution in the environment, mitigate climate change, and eventually rid the country of nuclear waste.

3) Universal healthcare.
This can include a true single-payer system allowing access to everyone while allowing private providers for those who wish to avail themselves of additional services. Again, robust, mature systems are available for study and adaptation. Possible models include France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, and Canada.

4) A program of free post-secondary education or business investment.                                        Under this program, citizens will be able to either A), attend four years of a public university at public expense, B) access the amount of money four years of schooling would cost and use it as seed money to start a business, or C), any combination thereof: for instance, a student would be able to attend two years of technical school and then access two years worth of seed money funding for a start-up. Such a program will also include the forgiveness of all existing student loan debt, which is currently consigning two generations of Americans to debt peonage and acting as a huge brake on the US economy.

5) Raising the minimum wage.
This will include indexing the minimum wage to the inflation rate, putting an end to the degrading spectacle of continually having to beg for a continually-shrinking slice of the pie. Likewise, and for the same reason, Social Security benefits shall be indexed to the inflation rate.

6) Ending the war on drugs.
This will include the outright legalization of cannabis, the pardon of all federal prisoners held on simple possession charges, and the institution of a robust national drug treatment program for addicts. Under this program, regulatory authority will be transferred to the Food and Drug Administration, the DEA will be abolished outright, and asset forfeiture will not occur in the absence of a criminal conviction. This program will include a ban on the transfer of military equipment from the Department of Defense to civilian police departments, and a requirement that any civil judgement against a police officer must be paid by the officer personally. This program will hold that possession/intoxication itself is not a crime, but that criminal behavior, such as DUI, is.

7) Immigration reform.
Under this program, all immigrants, documented or otherwise, will be granted amnesty and allowed to stay if they register. This will allow immigrants to be protected under labor and civil law, ending the problem of legitimate business being undercut by underpaid, illegal labor. Any illegal employment of an undocumented worker shall be considered a felony. Likewise, immigrants convicted of crimes of violence, theft, fraud, espionage, or a pattern of criminal behavior, are subject to permanent deportation.

8) The Federal government as the employer of last resort.
This can be thought of as a new WPA: anyone unable to find productive work can go to work for the government, building/repairing infrastructure, parks, public buildings, etc. This should make the institution of a Universal Basic Income unnecessary, although a cost-benefit analysis and comparison between this program and a UBI should be conducted.

9) The Fourth Amendment Restoration Act.
This will outlaw any and all warrantless electronic or physical surveillance of a citizen, and will include a Citizen’s information Bill of Rights, which will state that any business that compiles information on a citizen for sale or other distribution is required to notify that citizen and give the citizen the opportunity to dispute information included therein. Further, any business that profits from the sale of individuals’ information will be required to share those proceeds with the individual.

10) The Private Security Services Reform Act.
Private prisons, police forces, military contractors, and intelligence agencies, or any other businesses serving largely identical functions, are henceforth banned.

11) The Assault Weapons Control Act.
Any firearm design that includes a detachable magazine and a semi-automatic or autoloading action shall be considered a Class III weapon under the National Firearms Act. Further, the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any device designed to increase the rate of fire of an otherwise legal weapon, such as, but not limited to, trigger cranks, multiple-fire triggers, or so-called “bump-stocks”, shall be banned.

12) The Honesty in Commerce Act.
Any business that engages in systemic theft or fraud, as has been widely documented in, among others, the banking and auto-repair industries, shall be subject to seizure and liquidation without recompense to shareholders, and shareholders shall be held liable for crimes committed to their benefit. Likewise, the importation, manufacture, sale, or distribution of any device designed to access or steal from individuals, such as credit-card skimmers and car lock defeat mechanisms, shall be banned.

13) Adoption in total of S.1006, the “Equality Act”, to, finally, “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”

14) The Criminal Justice Reform Act.
In order to avoid the further criminalization of poverty and to promote equal justice before the law, this bill will reform the cash bail system as follows: No bail for a violent felony. Sliding scale for a first-time violent misdemeanor; no bail for a second offense. Not showing up is a no-bail felony. Analysis of an arrestee’s likelihood of showing up based on previous history and investment in the community; sliding scale bail depending on results-unlikely to appear, high bail, likely to appear, low (or no required) bail.

Feedback, suggestions, and comments are encouraged.

You’re Hired

Although our next election is a year away, candidates are currently doing and saying whatever they believe the American people want to hear. The conservative candidates are so plentiful, one can scarcely keep them all straight. But one of the candidates is not like the others.

 

He is loud. He is obnoxious. He is belligerent. He wears a million dollar kitten on his head.  He is…

trump

 

…The Donald.

A lot can be said about Trump’s candidacy thus far. His disrespectful tone with women, his thoughts on immigration, and his views on political contributions have been ferreted out for our perusal. Well, ferreted is not quite the best word to use, is it? The truth is that The Donald can’t shut up.

While I personally believe that if Trump ever articulated one good political idea, it would die of loneliness…

…He’s hired.

Wait, wait, wait. Don’t curse me like a drunken sailor just yet. I haven’t fallen and bumped my head. I just believe that there are a few things we -conservative, liberal, or other- can learn from this spectacle. Love or hate him. Let’s learn from him.

The Donald is honest. Brutally abrasive, almost cruelly honest. We can debate why he is so blunt, but I don’t believe that matters. What does matter is that Americans are fed up with pandering. A good chunk of America is sick to their back teeth of what they call political correctness.  Although rational people recognize that political correctness is a derogatory term for civility, many loathe it nonetheless. Presently, there is a certain level of admiration for a person willing to tell the unvarnished truth as he or she sees it.  We are seeing this admiration play out in liberal circles as well. A great deal of Bernie Sanders’ appeal is his speaking truth to power approach.

Then, there is the fact that Trump doesn’t need anyone. He is a very profitable business man who has come back from the brink more times than we can count. He is full of the can-do American spirit; He never gives up. As a known contributor to both parties, he has the freedom to entertain all points of view. As a billionaire, he runs a lesser chance of being bought. Americans want someone willing to hear other perceptions and someone comfortable in his/her own decision-making abilities. While very few openly admit to agreeing with most of Trump’s most outrageous statements, they do admire his confidence to stick to his guns. Again, look left…The liberal juggernaut, Sanders, is drawing huge crowds who adore him for sticking to his guns.

Finally, he is making politics interesting again. For many years, Americans have been, well, angry. Ranging from mild irritation to frothing at the mouth, anger and frustration has been an ever-present undercurrent in political discussions. The Donald has energized us all. I appreciate that. He and his kitten make me laugh, but his unique brand of outrageous foolery has people paying attention again. We need people paying attention. I’ve been saying for years that WE were the tyranny, that we have become far too uninvolved. Apathy does no favors for democracies. The Donald and his kitten are just entertaining enough to draw in viewers. Viewers are voters. For that alone, Trump, you’re hired.

 

 

 

Proposed voting reforms from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration

“The Commission has concluded that, as a general rule, no voter should have to wait more than half an hour in order to have an opportunity to vote.”

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its report in January. It is the culmination of research and interviews about issues surrounding the efficiency and fairness of elections across the country and offers solutions and best practices that would correct these problems. If you don’t have the time or patience to read the report in its entirety, I encourage you to at least read the Summary of Recommendations after the Table of Contents.

The Commission Co-Chairs are a Democrat and a Republican: Robert F. Bauer (White House Counsel to President Obama 2009 – 2011, is General Counsel for the DNC and was General Counsel for Obama for America 2008, 2012) and Benjamin L. Ginsberg (General Counsel for Mitt Romney for President, involved in the Florida 2000 Gore-Bush election recount, and National Counsel for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign).

Here are some of the recommendations:

  • States should adopt online voter registration
  • Interstate exchanges of voter registration information should be expanded
  • States should seamlessly integrate voter data acquired by the Department of Motor Vehicles with their statewide voter registration lists
  • Improved management of polling places
  • Jurisdictions should develop models and tools to assist them in effectively allocating resources across polling places
  • States should institute poll worker training standards
  • Election authorities should establish advisory groups for voters with disabilities and for those with limited English proficiency
  • Assure accessible polling places
  • Expand opportunities to vote before Election Day
  • States should provide ballots and registration materials to military and overseas voters via their websites
  • Audits of voting equipment must be conducted after each election

There are many additional worthwhile recommendations in the report. These are common sense reforms that all Americans, irrespective of political ideology, should be able to support.

Shared Suffering

Anyone who took the time to read my last post, may be a little surprised at what I say next.

Beneath all of the sadness and hiding behind all of the outrage…was pride.  Yes, you heard me, Pride!

Why?  What on Earth was there to be proud of??

martin 1

US!!

Not just the above us, but…

martin 5

THIS US!!

The us that stood together –  shoulder to shoulder, our voices mingling – to protest our displeasure.  Displeasure with a culture that hasn’t yet gotten over its biases.  Displeasure at how cases, involving our children, are handled.  Displeasure at how our laws are written.  Displeasure at how our justice system works.

A large number of Americans – all across the nation – came together for a common cause.   No matter our respective “colors”.  How’s that for tasting the rainbow?  You’re proud, too, right?

(Feel the but coming?)

But with that being said, many of us know that we are not headed for the pot of gold.  We know that our (individual) voices are often marginalized, if not silenced.

And as much pride as I have in what we did above, I fear that we won’t use that momentum going forward. 

That is because each of us is guilty.  We are guilty of paying especially rapt attention to the hot-button issues that touch us on a personal level.  And..we are ALL guilty of not paying (as much) attention to the suffering of others.  Sure, we are quick to jump to the defense of someone who has been blatantly wronged and gets enough media coverage (which seems to be up to fate).  But, then what?  We have a tendency to return to our respective corner, lick our wounds, and rest up for the next assault against our rights.

I, as a non-wealthy, cisgendered, black woman, have my own problems.  (You do, too.  Am I right?)  Sometimes it is difficult to step out of my shoes and into someone else’s.  Further, it is extremely easy to focus on what matters to me, to the exclusion of all else. 

I was as guilty as anyone else.  I spoke out against an injustice, here or there.  I volunteered for a campaign or two.  And I was proud of it.  But, I have come to realize that is not enough.  Not by a country mile.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.  – MLK

We must combine our grievances to fight for the common good.  We can not afford to become so encapsulated in our little bubbles, that we forget about the gay couple who asks only the freedom to marry.  We can not focus all of our energy on the plight of the woman when our oceans are becoming more acidic by the day.  It would be a mistake to disregard the plight of the immigrant, in favor of the black struggle.

Let’s be perfectly honest.  Any politician who does not believe that a woman is a fully cognitive being, capable of making her own decisions..probably won’t believe that poor people are not making a concerted effort to remain in poverty.  If any politician is able to look in your face and deny climate change, that politician is equally likely to think ‘drill, baby, drill” has no impact on the environment and that “education mills” have got it all wrong.  Any politician that doesn’t recognize the ingrained cultural biases in society..probably won’t understand why “the gays” are making such a fuss.  A future leader who will snatch your right to vote..will snatch your right to marry.  If he or she wants to pay for prisons and not schools..chances are he or she will not be too worried about the uninsured.  If a politician can’t value the unions..how much does he value the worker?

Consider this…

Those who have no problem stepping all over our rights have a plan.  They have a view of the world that we do not share.  Say what you will about them, they are tenacious.  They are determined and they are fighting with all they have.  They are investing millions and millions of dollars into their efforts.  They are buying the kind of country they want.  And have absolutely no guilt over it.  In fact, when we are hesitant to get with their program, we are labeled as lazy.  Or takers.  Or, sometimes, traitors.

And what are we doing?  We’re waiting..

Well, we can not afford to rest up for the next assault on our rights any longer.  We simply can not.  When we fight for the rights of the poor, the worker, the children –  we are fighting for our rights.  When we battle for the rights of our fellow citizens, we win the battle for ourselves.

As long as justice and injustice exist, human beings must be willing to do battle for the one against the other.

 – John Stuart Mill

Liberty and Justice for All

To the Parents of Trayvon Martin:

I am so sorry.  So very sorry.

As a mother, I am tempted to say something insensitive like I feel your pain.  Perhaps even I can imagine how you must feel.  But, both are lies.  I can not feel your pain, nor can I even begin to fathom how badly this must hurt.  My brain can not wrap around the excruciating, soul-wrenching pain you must be in.  So, I am left with…I’m sorry.

I, like millions of others, am sorry that you will never again hug or kiss your boy.  We are saddened that his life ended in such a senseless, tragic, and  preventable way.  It breaks our hearts that it took nothing more than traversing the street – in a hooded shirt – for Trayvon to become a “suspicious” person.  To be thought of as “up to no good”.  To be stalked, and murdered.

Those millions and I are further sorry that our justice system failed you. We were shocked that your son had barely been retrieved from the ground before his killer was home.  Home.  We were upset that it took national flash mobs to ensure an investigation.   We were angry that his character was attacked and his named maligned.  We were livid at the notion that somehow Trayvon has less of a right to be on that street than his attacker.  We were determined to stand with you, and all who loved your son, while the wheels of justice turned.

We were stunned and outraged that, after all was said and done, George Zimmerman was convicted of nothing.

While we may not know how you feel, we did feel.  We do feel.

We feel that it is shameful, in America, that the way your son was dressed garnered suspicion and began this entire train wreck of events.   We know that the pervasive racism in this country continues to give credence to ridiculous stereotypes like the one your son came face to face with.  And that is wrong.

We feel that it is completely and totally unacceptable that our children are being stalked and killed due to someone else’s irrational fears.  We know that, in this country, the acts of rogue vigilantes should be discouraged.

We feel that if Stand Your Ground is a right of some, it is a right for all – Trayvon included.  He had just as much right to be where he was that night as his shooter did.

We try to imagine the confusion and fear your son must have felt that night.  We teach our children wonderful lessons about America.  We continually remind them that they can be anything they so desire, if they try hard enough.  We recount the horror stories of the past in order for them to appreciate the freedom and equality they enjoy now.  We tell them that their clothes, their hair styles, their shoes don’t matter.  Because what matters is on the inside.

I am certain Trayvon learned differently that night.  I am sure he didn’t have the foggiest idea why he was being pursued.  How could he?  His pursuer only knew he “looked off”.  He learned what hundreds of thousands of young, black males already know.  He learned that, for some, fitting a profile is deadly.  He learned that stereotypes can get you killed.  He learned that, sometimes, adults are wrong.  Sometimes, you don’t have to look for trouble, because trouble looks for you.

And that is the hardest thing to admit.  We were wrong.  We failed him.

Regardless of how hard we wish it, we will never be able to change the horrible events of that sad night.  But there are things that we can do.  We can’t give you back the child of your heart.  But we can work so that his dying was not in vain.  We can’t give you justice for his death.  But we can fight to change laws, removing them if necessary.  We can’t get rid of every irrational person.  But we can fight for a society that does not condone irrational actions.  We can’t heal you.  But we can stand with you.

We can stand with you in our communities and states.  We can stand with you in our jails and courthouses.  We can stand with you in the voting booths.

Our sympathy is a start, but we can do more.  We will do more.

Because liberty and justice for all is more than a slogan.

Our hearts, heavy and broken, are with you.

Sincerely,

America

We’re #1 ..er..

America.

Wealthiest nation in the world.

It’s no wonder our middle class is number one in the world!

middle class

As the chart above clearly shows, America’s median income is the best in the…

Wait…WHAT??

We are not number one?  Or two, ten, or twenty?

According to this, America is #27.  Our middle class is being beaten by the likes of Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.  Topping the list is Australia.

But how can this be?  Our economy produces hedge fund managers that earn more per hour than the average family earns in two decades!

Surely, that kind of wealth is trickling down!!

So, why aren’t we drenched?  Hell, at least misted?

  • Healthcare:  We continue to pay more while becoming no more healthy.  And becoming seriously ill lands many in bankruptcy court.
  • Minimum Wage:  Our wage is indecent in comparison to the likes of Canada ($9.75), New Zealand ($11.18), and Australia ($16.45).  So much for claiming the top spot, again, right?  Not to mention that many other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacation time on top of paid sick days.
  • Wall Street:  Has gone wild.  Enough said.
  • Tax Structure:  Our code favors the wealthy with loopholes, tax havens, ridiculously low capital gains taxes, etc.
  • Higher Education:  The more you know, the more you owe.  In America.  Our counterparts are offering higher education practically tuition-free.

So, yeah.  No drenching, no mists, no trickles.

I think we were… PUNK’D!

deregulation

Financialization.  (Note when the two began to split.)

Financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.   – Economist, Gerald Epstein

Financialization was labeled the most important factor in our stagnant middle class.  Deregulation of the 80’s has given rise to a whole host of problems.

  • It “made shareholder value the ultimate goal.”
  • Hedge fund growth began destroying the “productive wealth” in the economy.
  • “Too big to fail” institutions were created, and basically granted license to gamble with the economy.
  • Barely regulated world markets became responsible for financing globalization.

Why don’t we know how throughly we were played? Good question.

Wealth dominates the mediaThe idea of conservative media or main stream media is foolish.  There is but one media.  Corporate media.  And do we honestly believe that the guys ripping us off will tell us that they are doing so?  Pfft.  Just go back to fake scandals and Hollywood hook-ups, if you please.

Here’s another good question.  Why aren’t we working, with due diligence, to reverse this?

Wealth dominates our politics, it is true.  Corporate lobbyists are boldly buying representatives and co-authoring legislation.  They are using their extreme wealth to their advantage.  Who needs or wants a level playing field when pulling in the kind of dough they do?

They are buying the team, the field, the equipment, the concession stand, and referees.  But that is not all they are buying.  It seems they have also purchased quite a few fans.

There are actually those among us who don’t realize or acknowledge that they have been, are being, and will continue to be fleeced in this economy.  They believe more corporate freedom is an appropriate action.  They believe, and loudly regurgitate, policy that will only serve to keep them from ever seeing the trickle they so patiently await.  To do anything else would make you a “taker”.    They have difficulty separating who built that from who purchased that.

Looks like there is nothing left to do, but sit in the stands and clap.

Uhm, .. no.

The first thing we can do is recognize this for what it is.  Class warfare.

Next, we need to forget about changing the minds of the purchased fans.  If the past few years haven’t demonstrated the damage deregulation causes, nothing will.  The information about corporate greed destroying the economy is out there, and it is plentiful.

Protest what is being done.  You don’t necessarily have to stand in a picket line.  Petition.  Support local businesses over big box chains.  Start a garden.  Use the services of a local credit union in lieu of a banking institution.

Most importantly, instruct and supervise your elected officials, while keeping an eye out for their replacement.

  • Republicans:  we will not tolerate your policies of carrying the rich on the backs of the poor.
  • Tea Party/Libertarians:  Atlas Shrugged is fiction.
  • Democrats:  the pretty words are nice, but the time has come to try on a backbone, thank you very much!
  • Progressives:  Come out, come out..wherever you are.

They need to know this is our game, too.  Comply or face ejection.  Period.

Because… We’re #27… is  pathetic!  As a standing and a chant!

Evergreen Up Late: I see red

Rising and falling
red repels,
yet keeps calling.

RED rising – North Korean belligerence has been increasing, raising temperatures as surely as global warming.

RED falling – Will China finally bring the hammer down on their neighbor?  Stranger things have happened.

On The Fringe calling – Meanwhile North Korea maintains that it has proof of the existence of Unicorns … or maybe it was Man Bear Pig?

RED fading – The reign of Pope Benedict XVI has ended a little bit differently than most. My, how those red shoes have had to dance. Worthy of a BONUS link!

RED in decline – GOP reduced to changing election rules to have a chance to win the next Federal election.

RED on repeat – Rand Paul Ryan Rand Paul Ryan. Well, ONE of those guys is on a new budget trick trip.

RED in retreat – A fake bankruptcy story fooled several conserv-a-blogs and mainstream media outlets – AGAIN.

‘REDiculous’ – Earlier, a bogus blog had fooled the mainstream outlets, enabling the Alaskan Half-Gov. to Tweet-Rinse-Repeat.

From the serious to the silly to the sublime.
Through it all stay optimistic, maintain your Grace under Pressure, and don’t let your rose-colored glasses become red lenses.

May you always be in tune with The Music of the Spheres.